LONG POND, Pa – Thoughts, observations and questions following the Pocono 500:
Tires were a big story again. We lost count of how many left-front tires failed. The Goodyear tire rep was mobbed when he came into the media center to offer an explanation. The bottom line? Air pressures were too low and wheel cambers were very aggressive. With those factors in play and the rough rumble strips in the corners, it spelled disaster for a lot of drivers.
What do you mean no shifting? Despite NASCAR's new gear rule that supposedly eliminated the ability to shift, word was that Robby Gordon – ever the rebel – did shift, which is what caused the transmission failure that put him out of the race.
Speaking of Gordon, he reiterated that even though he took a lot of heat for his Danica Patrick weight comments prior to the Indy 500, he still stands by them (and we agree with him). Gordon said he won't race there again until the rules change. But he added that he understands IRL officials will be pressured into changing the rules to allow for the weight of the driver very soon, and that those same officials will be changing the starting time back to noon ET for next year's 500.
Why is no one talking about how the Cup cars bounce off the SAFER walls after impact and into the path of oncoming traffic? We watched it happen again Sunday when Ryan Newman's car bounced back into the racing line and Newman was almost t-boned by Mike Wallace. Can we call that a near miss? And will NASCAR please have the SAFER wall people look into it?
Teams complain about having to come to Pocono, but most don't understand how close the track is to the No. 1 media market in the country (New York City) and to the No. 2 television market for Nextel Cup (Philadelphia). According to Nielsen Ratings, only Atlanta has a larger television audience for Cup races.
You can tell race winner Carl Edwards is well liked in the Cup garage, judging by all the congratulatory drive-bys he received after the race from his fellow drivers.
And we LOVE the backflips! And his "Oh-garsh" Jimmy Stewart mannerisms.
Frustration, thy name is Earnhardt. At least Dale Earnhardt Jr. still has a good sense of humor. When asked if there would be any more changes to the team, he said, "Hopefully not the driver."
When asked about his season so far, Junior said, "Elvis made some bad movies. This too shall pass."
Did anyone else notice that five of the top 10 finishers at this race were powered by Hendrick engines?
We're hoping Carl Edwards gets to make more visits to the media center in the future – and that he brings his new girlfriend, Olympic medal-winning swimmer Amanda Beard.
This race marked Brian Vickers' fourth top-10 in the last five races (including the exhibition races at Charlotte).
Prediction: Vickers will score his first Nextel Cup win before the Brickyard 400 in August.
Greg Biffle's rear brake failure came just when this team didn't need it. Team owner Jack Roush said that an initial investigation showed the setup on the car had relied heavily on using the rear brakes to get into the corners.
Although it was enjoyable to see Michael Waltrip hold such a tremendous lead early in the race, we somehow knew that it wouldn't last. We were right. Mikey does now lead his teammate Earnhardt Jr. in the points.
After running in the top 10 for most of the day, it was disappointing to see Jeremy Mayfield finish 14th. His car got very loose toward the end of the race. He deserved a better finish.
Jeff Green's 15th-place run was only his third top-15 all season. That's got to be good for a free box of Cheerios or something, doesn't it?