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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Pace Laps: Downpours At Pocono While Chevy Dominates Detroit GP

Sprint Cup: A Monday Afternoon Event in Pocono – Following nonstop rain, fog and misty conditions Sunday at Pocono Raceway, the Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400 was pushed back to Monday at noon for the Sprint Cup Series field – standing as Pocono’s first postponement since 2009. The race will still be televised on FOX Sports 1.

What does this delay mean for the competitors? Surely, many expected a washout after the forecast we had but a green racetrack sets up another question mark for the field of 40. One driver who could take advantage of the shift is Joey Logano, lining up second in his No. 22 Team Penske Ford alongside teammate Brad Keselowski.

Winning the most recent postponement in the Cup Series last fall at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Logano has appeared to bounce back nicely following a run of three straight crashes at Talladega, Kansas and Dover. Logano grabbed the All-Star Race victory in mid-May before returning to the top 10 last week during the Coca-Cola 600. He’s already earned one win here (2012) and was a solid top-5 contender during the rain-shortened XFINITY race Saturday.

With a strong whiff of momentum, Logano will have to hold off drivers like Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, and maybe even Tony Stewart in order to get win No. 1 of 2016. We’ll see if he capitalizes on the rain once the dark skies clear to the sun and green flag racing at Pocono. – Zach Catanzareti

XFINITY: Another Near-Miss for Jones – In 2016, no XFINITY regular has demonstrated more raw speed than Erik Jones.  However, Jones has also become the biggest boom or bust driver in XFINITY Series competition this year.

(Photo: Russell LaBounty/NKP)
Erik Jones will have to find more consistency if he wishes to capture the XFINITY championship come November. (Photo: Russell LaBounty/NKP)

Through the first 12 races of the season, Jones has scored seven top three finishes, including two wins.  Yet those seven races are also his only top-10 results.  Additionally, he’s posted three runs outside the top 30, a high number considering the current state of XFINITY competition.

In the short term, that kind of wild inconsistency does not matter for Jones, who is assured a spot in the Chase thanks to his wins.  What could matter, though, are races like Saturday’s contest at Pocono Raceway.  Jones had plenty of speed throughout the weekend, but he was not at the front of the field when the rains came, ending both the race and his chances at victory. Jones might have had the fastest car but he wasn’t the one holding the trophy when it counted.

It is notable that until late September, all that matters to Jones is that he keeps winning.  Second or 32nd has no consequences toward his championship hopes.  Potential victories that slip away, however, could come back to haunt the No. 20 team. They need to make sure they close the deal when an opportunity presents itself. – Bryan Gable
IndyCar: Chevrolet Reclaims the Top Spot in Dominant Detroit Weekend – After a rough Indianapolis 500, Chevrolet returned to form in a hectic doubleheader for the Verizon IndyCar Series Dual in Detroit, winning both races and scoring four of six available podium positions.
Running around the scenic Belle Isle Park on a race weekend owed largely to Team Penske owner Roger Penske, Chevy claimed most of the top storylines.
Scott Dixon and Simon Pagenaud traded off track records, with Pagenaud taking both poles for Team Penske. Sebastien Bourdais and Will Power took the two victories; Juan Pablo Montoya and Pagenaud joined them on the podium at points throughout the weekend.
There were a few stories to be had for Honda, namely Conor Daly’s surprising Saturday podium and Ryan Hunter-Reay’s first podium since the season opener at St. Petersburg. But overall, the Indy 500-winning manufacturer was largely noted for its struggles; an Alexander Rossi surprise was nowhere to be found. Honda will get a chance to bounce back next weekend when the series returns to Texas Motor Speedway; until then, it’s Chevy’s time to shine. – Aaron Bearden
Sports Cars: It’s Almost Time for Le Mans – The 24 Hours of Le Mans is a little less than two weeks away.  However, Sunday was the Le Mans Test Day (or in this case, days).  The public roads of the town of Le Mans, France are combined with purpose-built sections to form the Circuit de la Sarthe so that the 60 entrants (that’s right, they’re starting 60 this year) and six reserve entries can take to the 8.469-mile circuit to dial in their cars and get their drivers the proper experience at high speeds for eight hours.
In the first two World Endurance Challenge rounds, the P1 class has been marked by high attrition.  Porsche’s No. 2 entry won Silverstone but only after the No. 7 Audi R18 e-tron quattro was excluded after the race.  Spa saw seemingly the entire class have issues as Audi’s No. 8 shared by Lucas di Grassi, Loïc Duval and Oliver Jarvis won by two laps over the No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid,  a car which encountered problems for the majority of the race.
On Sunday, Audi fired the first volley.  Di Grassi turned in the fastest lap of the test with a lap of 3:21.375 (151.401 mph) during the afternoon session to top the charts.  Mark Webber turned in the second-fastest time in the No. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid, nearly nine-tenths of a second slower.  Neel Jani led the morning session with a lap of 3:22.334 (150.684 mph).  This time ended up being good enough for the third-fastest time of the day.
The best Toyota lap was set by Anthony Davidson in the No. 5 Toyota TS050.  Davidson’s lap of 3:23.197 (150.044 mph) was fastest enough for fifth quickest, 1.822 seconds off of di Grassi. Alexandre Imperatori was fastest of the privateer P1 entries with a lap of 3:27.062 (147.243 mph).
P2 saw former Champ Car racer Tristan Gommendy fastest in the Eurasia Motorsport No. 33 ORECA 05-Nissan with a lap of 3:36.690 (140.701 mph), seven-tenths of a second faster than the Signatech Alpine No. 36. GTE-Pro saw Corvette Racing’s Antonio Garcia fastest with a lap of 3:55.122 (129.671 mph).  The top 7 cars in the class were within a second of each other.  Finally, IMSA regular Nicky Catsburg, who technically doesn’t have a ride for the race, was fastest in GTE-Am for Larbre Competition in their No. 50 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R with a lap of 3:57.999 (128.103 mph).
Live coverage of the race is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, June 18 on FOX Sports 1.  The coverage will shift between FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2 and FOX Sports GO throughout the 24 hours, helped by the fact that the Sprint Cup Series has the weekend off. – Phil Allaway
NHRA: Rain Also Washes Out Straight-Liners – The old joke goes that NHRA stands for “Next Heavy Rain Area,” and that seemed to be the case this week for the New England Nationals from New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire. Persistent showers throughout the day prevented NHRA from getting a dry track and getting in any of Sunday’s elimination rounds. The sanctioning body was eventually forced to postpone the event until Monday morning.
Finals will begin at 11 a.m. ET and will follow the same schedule as Sunday. NHRA All Access coverage will also begin at that time while television coverage is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1; it’s directly following NASCAR’s rain-delayed Pocono coverage.
Top qualifiers for the event are Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), and Jason Line (Pro Stock). Tune in later today to see if they can ride those top speeds straight to victory. – Toni Montgomery
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