Five things we learned at Pocono
They say not to judge a book by its cover. But on Sunday, it was the cover, the first 10 chapters and a bunch of soggy pages in a NASCAR novel that nearly put us to sleep. Between a two-hour rain delay and some mind-numbing dominance by
Who knew one piece of debris could launch the race into total chaos? With the yellow bunching up the field, the last 125 miles turned into an episode of the Twilight Zone, with a little bit of everything: fuel strategy, fierce rivalries and, heck, even wreck-o-rama
So, who's mad at whom, who grew up before our eyes and who still needs to learn a lesson in confidence? We cover all that and more in Five Things to take away from a shocking last 50 laps at Pocono:
"It's been a situation where he's been a young guy, and he's been knocked around some," owner Gibbs said after the race. "You hate to see that."
Until now, Logano had struggled in handling those confrontations, backing off and taking the high road. He's told me a
"Racing the 29, and he let me go in the middle of the straightaway and decided to dump me in the next turn," he explained. "I don't know what his deal is with me. His wife wears the firesuit in the family and tells him what to do, so it's probably not his fault.
"It's just ridiculous. I don't know what I've ever done to piss him off, but he is apparently stupid."
Wow. Them's fightin' words! Harvick didn't pull any punches either, claiming, "You can't talk to him. He's 20." Later, he tweeted, "Well after his TV comment I don't know if he wants to fight me or @delanaharvick... my money's on her!"
But this incident is more about Logano than either the point leader or who's really at fault. After two years of Logano getting pushed around,
Sunday was the first step toward Logano making clear he's going to be respected on the racetrack, that he's not going to sit and take it. He may need to go one step further and spin Harvick out at some point, but yelling and screaming was certainly better than nothing. Now, drivers know they'll get an earful if they mess with him.
"I went from an 'F' at knowing how to get around here to about an 'A'," he said, the second straight week he stared adversity in the face and didn't flinch. Add in Hamlin's four-win season, leaving him the Chase's top seed as of now, and suddenly JGR has itself a 1-2 punch for the season championship.
"I feel like we're one of four or five guys that really are legitimate week-in, week-out, up-front guys," Hamlin said. "That's a good feeling right now. Your performance always comes in waves, but I'm definitely very confident in what we have planned for the Chase. Right now we are being conservative, believe it or not; it's all about peaking at the right time. People would say, 'you're peaking now,' but I feel the best is yet to come."
"I don't know what A.J. was doing there," said Kahne. "I don't ever really talk to him much, but you can bet I will be talking to him this week."
"Kasey had such a run on me and I went to defend," countered the 'Dinger. "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."
Sounds like a guy who's not itching to apologize, the latest blow to a four-car team that hasn't scored a top-5 finish since Texas in April. The supposed future of this organization should know better than that; Kahne won't be there next season, but a callous attitude towards the incident sours the relationship between the two cars in the shop.
Last week, I took a look
"Not a very stellar day," Stewart said. "I'm happy where we ended up because of [fuel strategy]. But we still got a lot of work to do. There's light at the end of the tunnel, but it's still a long ways away."
He then turned his complaints to the rest of the Sprint Cup field. "Restarts were idiotic today," he exclaimed. "I've seen some of the worst driving I've ever seen in my life in a professional series right here today. So for anybody that's looking for drama the next couple races, start looking 'cause I can promise I'm going to start making the highlight reel the next couple of weeks."
Hefty words from a guy who has trouble controlling his temper, ones that might resonate the wrong way with a team he manages, one that's giving 110 percent to turning things around. He claims the highlight reel is his next stop on the circuit; I just wonder if he'll be on it for all the right reasons.