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Thursday, June 8, 2006
DID YOU KNOW?
Michael Waltrip won the
pole for last year's
Pocono 500 with a speed
of 169.053 mph.
Race: Pocono 500
Where: Pocono Raceway
When: Sunday, 1:30 p.m. ET
Defending race winner: Carl Edwards
Luck poured down with
the rain for Carl Edwards
in last year’s Pocono run
Cox News Service
ometimes the things that go wrong
kon the way to a race wind up mak-
*ing a good story even better in the
Such was the case with Carl
Edwards’ victory at Pocono Raceway
The story began at Nashville
Superspeedway where Edwards, who
like this year was running the Nextel
Cup and Busch Series circuits, was set
to run a Busch Series race.
Rain began to fall just as the race was
set to start, and even though track offi
cials attempted to get the race in that
Saturday night, the weather wouldn’t
cooperate and the Busch race was post
poned until Simday That meant
Edwards would miss the race, and suf
fer a huge Busch points hit because his
first obligation was to run the No. 99
Ford in the Cup race that same day
So he and his entourage climbed into
an airplane, owned and piloted by team
owner Jack Roush, and flew off into tiie
rainy night. Their destination: Pocono.
Edwards, speaking during a recent
called how he dozed
off in the copilot’s seat
only to awaken to find
Roush trying to land
in a dense fog.
“I woke up to Jack
trying to make this
approach into an air
port,” Edwards said.
“It was really foggy
and the [instruments
are] telling us we’re
real close to the
Roush aborted the
landing and headed
to another airport where the conditions
were better, according to weather re
ports. But after landing safely the
group discovered that the only trans-
Cox News Service
Carl Edwards waits for the showers to end at Atlanta Motor
Speedway earlier this season. A weather postponement last year at
Nashville Superspeedway preceded Edwards’ second Cup victory.
Track length: 2.5 miles
Race length: 200 laps/500 miles
Banking in Turn 1:14 degrees
Banking in Turn 2: 8 degrees
Banking in Turn 3: 6 degrees
Frontstretch: 3,740 feet
Backstretch: 3,055 feet
Shortstretch: 1,780 feet
First race: Aug. 4,1974; Purolator
Qualifying record: Kasey Kahne,
Dodge; 172.533 mph; June 11, 2004
Race record: Rusty Wallace, Ford;
144.892 mph; July 21,1996
portation available for the trip to the
track was a single pickup truck.
“Me and my buddy who had come to
visit for the
rode in the back
of the pickup
truck and made
it to the track
to be a bad week
end became a re
who had never
before raced at
away from the field for the second victo
ry of his Nextel Cup career.
He said he’d easily go through all the
tribulations again if it would ensure an
“1 might just do it again for luck this
year,” he said.
Edwards, who is 14th in the Nextel
Cup points standings after a 15th-place
run at Dover, said he likes Pocono’s
unique layout, with its three unique
straightaways, but finds it can be fiiis-
trating for drivers who make mistakes
in one of the three turns.
“TTie straightaways are so long that
when you come off the comer and you
wiggle' and you have to get out of the
gas, it’s just pure agony going down that
long straightaway knowing you gave up
all of that time,” he said. “You’ve just got
to sit there and suffer for 10 or 12 sec
onds, where at a smaller track, the time
you have to deal witii something like
that is a lot shorter.
“It can be very rewarding, but the bad
comers really make for long, long
Most lead changes
during a Cup race
Cola 500; July 30,
best among Matt Kenseth celebrates
Nextel Cup after winning Sunday’s
drivers. race at Dover.
Cup victories by Bill
Elliott at Pocono, tops
among all drivers.
What ever happened to...
Andy Petree’s biggest claim to NASCAR fame is as a
crew chief for Dale Earnhardt in the title-winning years
of 1993 and 1994. After a long career as a crew chief, he
became a car owner. He fielded 322 Nextel Cup entries
fmm 1996-2003, winning twice, taking six poles and
scoring 16 top-five and 54 top-10 finishes.
He also had some success as a driver, running five
times in the Busch Series and seven times in the
Craftsman TVuck Series. Tbday he’s no longer directly
involved in racing, but he operates a shop in his home
town of Hendersonville, N.C., building equipment used
by race teams to set up race cars. He talked with Cox
News Service writer Rick Minter about life away from
On his new lifestyle away from the tracks: “I’m
enjoying life, enjoying watching my little girl playing
softbaU. I built a new shop. I stiU have some racing
stuff, but I’m getting rid of it.”
Here are some of the top storylines this week heading to Pocono:
Thming the Monster’
Dover International Speedway tiie “Monster Mile,” has been any
thing but for Matt Kenseth.
It was at Dover in 1998 that a relatively unknown Kenseth made his
Nextel Cup debut, filling in for Bill Elliott, whose father died that week.
Kenseth turned in a stunning performance, driving the No. 94 Ford
to a sixth-place finish, and just a year later he was driving for his cur
rent Roush Racing team.
He has won twice at Dover in the Busch Series, and on Sunday he
pulled off his best Dover feat. Going against crew chief Robbie Reiser’s
wishes, he stayed on the track when many of the leaders stopped for
fresh tires near the end of the race. But Kenseth’s instincts were correct
as he sped into second place, then took the lead from his Roush team
mate Jamie McMurray with less than five laps remaining to claim his
first Cup victory at Dover.
Nextel Cup points leader Jimmie Johnson and his No. 48 team
showed as much championship form in their sixth-place finish in the
Neighborhood Excellence 400 at Dover
International Speedway as they did in their three
victories earlier this season.
Johnson’s weekend started with a spin in quali
fying that forced him to start 42nd and share a pit
stall with Scott Wimmer, because Dover has only
42 pit spots.
Things got worse when he fell a lap behind the
leaders, and just as he was beginning to recover, he
spun and was rear-ended by David Stremme.
But his team kept tuniug his car, and when the
checkered flag fell on Matt Kenseth, Johnson had
moved to within striking distance of the lead group.
“We just fought and fought and fought all daylong,” Johnson said on
pit road after the race.
He enters this week’s 500-mile race at Pocono Raceway willi a 74-
point lead over Kenseth.
A Busch dilemma
The NASCAR schedule has been kind so far to drivers competing full
time in the Nextel Cup and Busch Series, but the next month is much
tougher. TKe Cup race is in Pocono tiiis Sunday while the Busch race is
at Nashville on Saturday Next week the Cup race is in Michigan on
Simday with the Busch ^ries at Kentucky on Saturday night. The fol
lowing weekend finds the Busch Series at the Milwaukee Mile on June
24 while the Cup circuit runs the road course at Sonoma, Calif, on
Sunday June 25. That means lots of plane trips between tracks for the
Busch points leader Kevin Harvick said it’s not a big deal to him. He
leaves the logistics to others and rests every chance he gets.
“Flying on planes gives me some time to get some sleep,” he said.
Carl Edwards said he thought about treating the travel like an ad
“That’s something I was going to talk to Kyde [Busch] and some of the
other guys about and just maybe getting together with them and shar
ing travel or something,” he said on a recent teleconference. “Thatfs al
ways the flm part about these weekends.”
But Harvick, who ran all but.one race of both circuits in 2001 and
won the Busch title, said he isn’t planning to take on such a big work
load next year.
“Well probabfy'^getbackto 17 or 18 [Busch] races,” he said.
Tough row to hoe
Buschwhacking, the term used to describe Nextel Cup drivers and
teams competing in the Busch Series, has become so commonplace that
it’s now rare for a full-time Busch driver to win a race. After 14 Busch
races this ^ason, the regular competitors in NASCAR’s No. 2 circuit
are still seeking that first victory
With up to half of the field comprised of Cup drivers at most races, it’s
no surprise their experience and technologic^ advantages have proven
to be hard to overcome.
No team is taking it to the Busch regulars like Richard Childress
Racing and his Cup drivers, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and Clint
Burton’s victory at Dover last Saturday was his second of the season
in Busch, and Harvick has three wins — at Richmond, Phoenix and
Nashville — and leads the points standings by 297 over fellow Cup
driver Carl Edwards.
Bowyer is third in Busch points, 403 points behind Harvick.
Keeping Toyota at bay
One of the main things standing between Tbyota and total domi
nance of the Craftsman Truck Series is Mark Martin and his No. 6
Ford. Martin’s victory in last Friday’s AAA Insurance 200 at Dover
International Speedway was his thW truck win in six starts this sea
Tbyota drivers have won three races, while Chevrolet drivers have
won two. Tbyota owns the top five in the standings as Tlmdra drivers
Tbdd Bodine, Tbd Musgrave, David Reutimann, Johnny Benson and
David’Starr occupy the elite positions in points.
Martin’s influence likely wiU be felt for a long time in the truck series
as he plans to end his full-time Nextel Cup career after this season and
become a regular in trucks next year.
Following the Neighborhood Excellence 400
1. Jimmie Johnson Cup next up: Pocono 500;
TV; 1:30 p.m. ET, Sunday: Fox
Busch next up: Federated Auto
2,011; previous: 1
2. Matt Kenseth
1,937; previous: 2
3. Mark Martin
1,795; previous: 3 300; Nashville
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Superspeedway
1,729; previous: 5 TV:7:30p.i
5. Tony Stewart
I. ET, Saturday; FX
Truck next up: Sam's Town 400;
1,718; previous: 4 Texas Motor Speedway
6. Kasey Kahne TV: 9 p.m. ET, Friday: Speed
1,715; previous: 6 Channel
7. Jeff Burton
1,615; previous: 8
8. Kevin Harvick
9. Jeff Gordon
1,583; previous: 7
10. Kyle Busch
1. Kevin Harvick
2,221; previous: 1
2. Carl Edwards
1,924; previous: 2
3. Clint Bowyer
1,818; previous: 3
4. Denny Hamlin
1,793; previous; 4
5. Kyle Busch
1,744; previous: 7
1. Todd Bodine
1,305; previous: 1
2. Ted Musgrave
1,229; previous: 2
3. David Reutimann
1,194; previous: 3
4. Johnny Benson
1,098; previous; 5
5. David Starr
1,078; previous: 4
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Distributed by Universal Press Syndicate for Cox News Service. (800) 255-6734. *For release the week of June 5, 2006.