NASCAR Race Weekend Central

The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2010 Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500 at Pocono

Who won this race again?

With so much taking place on the final lap and after the conclusion of the race, it was easy to forget that Denny Hamlin just scored his fourth win of the year and fourth at Pocono Raceway. Leading five times for a total of 88 laps, Hamlin appeared as if he was going to drive to victory under regulation, that is until Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano got together to bring out the caution and set up a green-white-checkered finish.

With a hungry pack of drivers behind him, Hamlin was able to get a good restart and eventually drove away from the field on the GWC restart as all hell broke loose behind him, bring out the caution and ending the race.

“I was, I mean, a hundred yards maybe from the start/finish line when the caution did come out,” Hamlin said. “Just such a tough spot to be in because I didn’t know what line to restart in. Kyle [Busch] is good on restarts. Tony [Stewart] was fighting us pretty hard there at the end. I mean, you got one in the bag and it looks like you’re about to carry the trophy away and something happens.”

“That’s why I like winning them better this way, though. It’s not just walking away; you really got to earn it.”

Scoring the victory, Hamlin jumped two spots in the series standings to third. His four wins now give him 40 bonus points headed into the Chase, with 12 weeks to go before the Chase field is reset.

What happened between Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick?

Throughout Sunday’s race, Harvick had a much stronger car than Logano, but thanks to late cautions and pit road strategy, Logano was running in the top five late in the race. With a car that was coming on in the final laps, Harvick caught Logano and made a move under him going down the North Straight. As the two entered the third turn, they made contact and Logano was sent sliding up the track and spinning around as Harvick drove on.

Following their contact coming to the white flag, Joey Logano went from running 5th to 30th on the green-white-checkered restart. Thanks to the huge wreck on the last lap, Logano was able to make his way back to 13th, but he was not happy about it.

After the race, Logano pulled his car up against the No. 29 as crew members were standing by the car. The two drivers got out of their cars as crew members and Logano’s father, Tom, got involved.

“I don’t know what his deal is with me,” Logano said after the incident. “It’s probably not his fault. His wife wears the firesuit in his family and tells him what to do, so it’s probably not his fault.

“He needs to know how I feel, and no one lets me go over and talk to the guy,” he added. “You get out of the car, you want to talk to the guy and there’s 6,000 crew members around that you can’t go up and talk to him. I don’t know how you’re supposed to settle something if you can’t talk to the guy, but there’s no talking to him anyway.”

“It’s a tough deal because everybody’s trying so hard right here and everybody’s emotions start overflowing,” said Harvick’s crew chief Gil Martin. “I’m sure Joey feels Kevin took him out on purpose, but you can look at the replay, we watched it several times and Kevin never moved his line and [Joey] cut down on him. If you’re going to race that close at the end of the race your spotter’s going to have to give you room and obviously his spotter didn’t give him any room there. The bottom line is we caught him from a straightaway away and we were faster than him and common sense would have told him to just let us go so we could keep racing, but it just happens.

For Martin, the biggest problem was not that Logano was upset with what happened, but how he handled the situation on pit road.

“He gassed his car up at it and tried to pin our guys up against the car,” Martin said. “That’s the thing that got us most mad. I’m good with [Joey] being upset because they had an altercation on the track, but the moment he gasses his car up and tries to pin our guys up against the car, I’m not OK with that at all. NASCAR needs to do something about that, because if he wants to fight and wrestle around with Kevin, the gate’s right over there. They can go fight and wrestle all they want outside, but when you start trying to pin our guys against the car, that’s not right.”

Where did Clint Bowyer go?

For much of Sunday’s race in Pocono it appeared Clint Bowyer was on cruise control towards his first victory of the year. Starting from the second spot, Bowyer was able to keep his car up front and in contention for most of the early stages of the race, leading twice for a total of 59 laps. However, as the race moved into the closing stages, Bowyer faded and eventually finished in the ninth spot.

Fighting a loose racecar, Bowyer tagged the wall off turn 3 on lap 112 and the car was never the same.

When was the last time Tony Stewart finished in the top five?

Thanks to some late-race pit strategy, Stewart went from running mid-pack all afternoon to racing for the win late in the race. At the halfway point of the race, Stewart was running 15th, with 50 laps to go he had improved to 14th, yet at the end of the day the defending race winner scored a third-place finish.

“Not a very stellar day by any means,” Stewart said after the race. “Ended up with a top three. You know, obviously happy about that. But would have liked to have been running in the top three all day and end up that way.”

So, when was the last time Stewart finished in the top five? You have to go back to Martinsville, nine races ago to find a top-five finish for the owner/driver of the No. 14 Chevrolet. Suffering a bit of a sophomore slump as an owner/driver, this top-five finish (only his second of the year) is a boost of confidence headed into the summer months of the season, but he knows the work will not come easy.

“I feel like there’s light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s still a long ways away,” Stewart said. “We still got a lot of work to do.”

Why was Tom Logano called to the NASCAR hauler?

Following the incident on pit road between Logano, Harvick and the No. 29 crew, Logano, crew chief Greg Zipadelli, JD Gibbs and Joey’s father Tom Logano were all called to the NASCAR hauler for a chat. The meeting between NASCAR and Joey Logano did not last long, but the same could not be said for his father.

Finally emerging from the meeting, series director John Darby explained the biggest issue being discussed inside the hauler had to do not with Joey’s handling of the situation, but his father’s. As Joey made his way to the garage, TNT’s Ralph Sheheen attempted to get a word from the driver. Instead, Tom Logano knocked Sheheen out of the way and nearly off his feet. Clearly upset with what transpired on the track, the elder Logano was out of line in how he dealt with the situation and NASCAR wanted him to know about it.

This is not the first time Tom Logano has been called to the NASCAR hauler, however. Last year during a Nationwide Series event in Fontana, Greg Biffle and Joey Logano got into it on the race track, but when the race was over, Tom ran down pit road, made an obscene gesture towards Biffle and had some words with him as he drove past. NASCAR called Tom to the hauler and eventually pulled his NASCAR credential.

TNT had no official comment on the incident that took place on Sunday in Pocono and Darby explained Logano’s hard card would not be pulled.

How did that final big wreck happen on the last lap?

Coming off a chaotic restart for the GWC a massive wreck took place headed into the tunnel turn. The incident ended the race and tore up nine cars, including Kasey Kahne, Biffle, Mark Martin, Martin Truex Jr., Jeff Gordon, Marcos Ambrose, Ryan Newman and Elliott Sadler. So, how did it all happen?

As Kahne got a huge run off the first corner and down the straightaway, teammate AJ Allmendinger threw a block that sent the No. 9 Ford down into the grass. When Kahne’s left-side tires got into the wet grass he simply lost control of his car and shot up the track, right into the path of Martin and Biffle. The hard contact sent Kahne’s car backwards into the air as everyone behind the wreck did their best to avoid piling in.

With Kahne leaving the organization at the end of the year it appears there is no love lost between he and Allmendinger.

“I don’t know what AJ was doing there,” Kahne said. “I don’t ever really talk to him much, but you can bet I will be talking to him this week.”

Allmendinger had a strong car all day, but with the field jumbled at the end of the race, he was doing everything he could to maintain his position.

“I am not really sure what happened,” Allmendinger said. “Kasey had such a run on me and I went to defend. By the time I defended he was in the grass. That is my bad. I feel bad about that, I really do. It is what it is though.”

Taking one of the hardest hits of the incident, Biffle knew exactly what caused the wreck and was not happy about it.

“I don’t know what his deal is,” Biffle said. “He totally caused that whole thing. If he is driving that blue car with the 43 on the side that put Kasey into the grass then yeah, it is on him. He ran him down on the grass. You can’t run a guy down on the grass. You can’t run your teammate down onto the grass. That is horrible. He could have backed out of that before he put him down like that.”

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