This weekend’s race at Pocono had a lot of firsts. Some happened before the race, some during the race, and some happened once the checkered flag waved. Some did occur, another never did.
The first, which was before the race, actually involved me. I had an opportunity to actually go to this race. A buddy of mine landed a “Hot Pass” to the race, which I have gotten before as a media member. I had thought he got two, and wanted to go. But since he only had one, it sadly wouldn’t work. Did I want to go if it was two passes, there was no doubt about it. I would be screaming tire to make it there.
But that’s neither here nor there, don’t want to dwell on what didn’t happen.
Now, during the race there were a couple firsts once more. The first being some changes to the track, or at least slightly off the racing surface. The track took away the curbing that was on the inside of what is termed the “Tunnel Turn,” turn two. The curbing often gave drivers a reference for entry into the turn, but once they got on it, they’d shoot up and possibly hit the wall, ending the race for them. In a way it was a good move, but in a way it’s a bit bad. It was made more for safety, but losing that point of reference certainly is hard on the teams.
At the same time, during the race the other first was the first caution, because it had nothing to do with on-track action. The fireworks used for the pre-race ceremonies decided to come back to earth, and with the dry surface, a little smoke began showing itself off the turn.
It’s not the first time something off-track caused a caution, but it’s the first time it’s happened at Pocono.
Finally, the last pair of firsts include the race winner. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been having a great 2014 season, and starting it with a win in the Daytona 500 is not a bad way to kick it off. He’s finally begun using Twitter, a first at least for him, but this weekend he accomplished two things. His win in the Pocono 400 was a first for him, and it was his first win on a non-restrictor plate track since Michigan 2012.
In addition, it’s the first time one entire team has won four consecutive races at one track with different drivers. In July 2012, Jeff Gordon had his luck change that season with his win in a rain-shortened summer race. Last year, Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne won at Pocono. Now Junior takes his place on that list.
To top it off, this is his first multi-win season since his highly successful 2004 campaign, which ironically enough was started the exact same way it did this year, with a Daytona 500 victory.
So many firsts at Pocono this weekend. Although the one that started it all was it being the first track with only three corners. Guess this “Tricky Triangle” still has a couple tricks up its sleeve after all.
RESULTS: 1-Earnhardt Jr. 2-Keselowski 3-Kurt Busch 4-Hamlin 5-Larson 6-Johnson 7-Newman 8-Gordon 9-Truex Jr. 10-McMurray
NOTABLE FINISHES: 12-Kyle Busch 13-Stewart 14-Harvick 25-Kenseth 37-Patrick 40-Logano 41-Edwards
CAUTIONS: 7 for 26 laps. Lap 33-35 (Infield Fire-T3), 61-64 (Debris-T3), 73-75 (Debris-T1), 81-83 (#77 Spin-T1), 119-122 (Oil on Track), 138-141 (#10 Accident-T3), 144-148 (#5, 18, 99 Accident-T2).
LEAD CHANGES: 21 among 10 drivers. Hamlin POLE, Keselowski 1-56, Gordon 57, Stewart 59-61, Keselowski 62-75, Stewart 76-83, Kurt Busch 84-88, Stewart 89-95, Hamlin 96, Earnhardt Jr. 97-100, Vickers 101, Larson 102-108, Johnson 109-111, Stewart 112-119, Keselowski 120-128, Earnhardt Jr. 129-130, Johnson 131-132, Gordon 133, Allgaier 134-139, Keselowski 140-155, Earnhardt Jr. 156-160.
TIME OF RACE: 2 Hrs, 52 Mins, 7 Secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 139.440 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 0.439 Seconds
POINT STANDINGS: 1. Gordon, 498 points*; 2. Kenseth, -16; 3. Earnhardt Jr, -22*; 4. Johnson, -23*; 5. Keselowski, -50*; 6. Kyle Busch, -55*; 7. Edwards, -57*; 8. Hamlin, -78*; 9. Logano, -80*; 10. Larson, -81
*Race Winner, Chase Eligible