Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Hoorahs and Wazzups: A Fresh Loaf of Sliced Bread
by Dave Grayson
It wasn't that many years ago when the arrival of driver Joey Logano to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and Joe Gibbs Racing, was being heralded as "the best thing since sliced bread." However, in recent years,there were reports that said the racing marriage between Joe Gibbs Racing and Logano may be coming to an end. There were persistent reports that the driver's contract, which ends this year, might not get renewed. In other words: the sliced bread was developing mold. Logano effectively dispelled those reports with a badly needed outstanding performance that led to winning last Sunday's Pocono 400 at a point in his career when he really needed to make something happen.
The race was the first on the newly repaved, and reconfigured, Pocono International Raceway's 2.5 triangle shaped track. There were speed records set in qualifying, during the race and, unfortunately, on pit road. With those thoughts in mind, let's begin with:
HOORAH to Joey Logano for winning the Pocono 400 during an outstanding weekend in Pennsylvania. He started by winning the Coors Light Pole with a record speed of 179.598 MPH. He led a race high 49 laps and, in the final laps, this 22 year old driver pulled off a veteran move against Mark Martin to claim his second Sprint Cup win.
HOORAH to crew chief Jason Ratcliff for scoring his first ever Cup win. After a lengthy measure of success in the Nationwide Series for Joe Gibbs Racing, Ratcliff is now on his way to joining the elite ranks of superstar Sprint Cup crew chiefs.
HOORAH to this race winner screaming "finally, I won one the right way" on his radio. This is in reference to his first Cup win, at New Hampshire in 2009, that was shortened due to rain.
WAZZUP with this race being Logano's first top five finish since the Watkins Glen race from August of last year? Frankly, these are the type of stats that fueled all of the contract rumors.
WAZZUP with Logano being asked if he felt the win would allow him to keep his job in the middle of the victory lane celebration? Granted, it was a valid question and a storyline that will be followed during the days to come, but the timing was terrible. This is an issue that would have been better suited for the traditional post race interview in the media center. Logano and his team should have been allowed to enjoy the victory moment without drama being injected into it. You could tell Logano was not too thrilled with the question and responded with: "I hope it shuts them all up."
HOORAH to Mark Martin for showing a great deal of class during his post race interview. It was a slight bobble in turn three, from Martin's Toyota, that allowed Logano to catch him and take the lead. Martin acknowledged that the late race bump and run from Logano is accepted in the sport and admitted that if he could have caught up with him he might have been tempted to return the favor. Ironically, it was Martin, many years ago, who got on the Logano bandwagon and told NASCAR team owners they needed to take a look him. Mark Martin has always been, and always will be, a class act.
WAZZUP with Logano's team not being able to return to North Carolina after the race to launch a victory celebration? It seems their plane has some mechanical issues so they held a celebration dinner in Long Pond, PA instead.
HOORAH to the excellent repaving job at Pocono that produced some very high speeds. During qualifying for the Pocono 400, 36 drivers broke the old track record.
Unfortunately, there was another speed record that was shattered at Pocono. WAZZUP with 22 cars getting busted for speeding on pit road? It completely shattered the previous record of 14 that dates back to 2006 at the Kansas Speedway. Driver Travis Kvapil led the speed fest with four penalties, followed by David Reutimann with three while Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski and A J Allmendinger has two each.
It seems that, according to NASCAR, the recent repaving and reconfiguration of this race track also included pit road which meant the timing zones on pit road has changed from the previous race. Robin Pemberton, NASCAR Vice President of Competition, said "it's a brand new pit road, all brand new (timing) loops, positions have been changed from last year. The sections were smaller than they were last year throughout pit road and, actually, the last section is a little bigger," (changed from 56 to 83 feet). It was this last section that seemed to cause most of the problems. 20 of the 22 penalties occurred while drivers were exiting pit road.
Maps detailing the pit road timing zones were available to the teams at the NASCAR hauler. WAZZUP with a report that said that only an approximate 50 percent of the teams took the time to study the map? WAZZUP with that crew chiefs?
Needless to say, there was a lot of driver frustration regarding these speeding penalties. HOORAH to Kevin Harvick for coming up with one of the better comments when he said: "thank you NASCAR, you can't even figure your f*****g miles per hour out."
That leads to the HOORAH for making chicken salad out of chicken do do which absolutely belongs to Jimmie Johnson. First he suffered the embarrassment of coming down pit road, after serving his first stop and go penalty, only to find out that he had just collected his second penalty for speeding. He worked his way back to ninth. During a yellow flag restart, with only 17 laps remaining in the race, Johnson's car got really loose in turn one. By the time he got the car gathered up, he was now in 22nd place. He drove his way through the field again and wound up with a fourth place finish. Refusing to bow to adversity is what championship teams do best.
In some final thoughts, a combined WAZZUP and HOORAH goes to the Pocono International Raceway for putting on one of best races of the 2012 Sprint Cup season so far. The story lines of this race were loaded with action, drama and humor. Taking past Pocono races into consideration, no one could have seen this coming.
HOORAH for the decision to reduce the length of this race from 500 to 400 miles. The race was completed in three hours and three minutes. In the past you practically needed a mini bottle of that Five Hour Energy Drink to get through a Pocono race.
During the Pocono weekend there was a sad report of a woodchuck getting hit by race car. WAZZUP with me raising the following questions regarding that situation?
How many cars can a woodchuck chuck if, indeed, a woodchuck can chuck a car?
Is the animal rights group, PETA, aware of this incident?
Is PETA aware that I truly believe their names stands for People Eating Tasty Animals?
I'm Dave, and I approve this message.