June 13, 2012
By Chuck Abrams
Joey Logano turned a blistering qualifying lap into a win Sunday in the Pocono 400. But is it enough to save his ride at Joe Gibbs racing?
Right now, Logano is tied for the last Wild Card position and if he can back up this run with either another win or the ability to stay up front, he might have just saved his job.
But missing the Chase could be the final straw. It is even questionable if making the Chase will keep him at Gibbs. That may depend on who else is available in either a veteran driver or someone in the pipeline in Gibbs’ developmental program.
But maybe, just maybe, things are starting to click for Young Joey. This Cup win comes right on the heels of a couple of Nationwide Victories. Now we just have to sit back and enjoy the ride.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. led the second most number of laps at Pocono, yet he finished eighth, extending his series leading number of top ten finishes. Junior was obviously disappointed in the outcome of the race. The long caution flags towards the end of the race proved to be the difference of who went to Victory Lane.
Instead of Logano and Mark Martin fighting for the win, it could have easily been Matt Kenseth and Earnhardt had the cautions fallen just a bit differently. Junior was visibly upset in his first interview with Ralph Sheheen. In fact, Junior was speechless at first and had to ask for a do over.
Usually those moments are not on live TV. Not sure what Dale, Jr., was thinking about saying, but he obviously has better control than Kurt Busch (yup, I had to get that in there). While Junior was not going to threaten Sheheen, it was obvious he was having a tough time finding the right words, whether to throw his team and crew chief under the bus, complain about the fuel mileage, or to start crying. Instead, he took a moment to collect himself and delivered a short interview for all the TV fans. That moment says far more about Dale Jr. than what he did say. Kurt Busch ought to take notice of how a pro handles himself.
The race itself was pretty typical of Pocono. While the new surface was fast, the racing got pretty well strung out after a restart. The restarts were pretty crazy and where most of the action occurred. There was quite the mix of drivers up front.
In addition to Logano and Mark Martin, Marcos Ambrose, Paul Menard, Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya, among others, were running in the top five at times. Fuel mileage caused many of those drivers to pit late and gave them finishes that were not indicative of how they were running during the race, but it was still nice to see those guys up front for a time.
And if you hate fuel mileage races, then you’ll really hate this Sunday at Michigan. Michigan is known for producing fuel mileage situations where the fastest car is not always the one that wins. Cautions, pit strategy and clean air will make the difference at Michigan.
For the time, Kenseth has taken over the points lead with Dale Jr. still in second place. Michigan has been kind to Roush drivers so look for Biffle to rebound this week and try to unseat Kenseth. Junior needs to keep pace with the Roush drivers in order to stay in site of the lead and stay within striking distance of the points lead.
Let me know your thoughts. Will Junior win this weekend or does Roush continue its dominance?
Drive fast, turn left and keep the shiny side up.
The thoughts and ideas expressed by this writer or any other writer on Insider Racing News, are not necessarily the views of the staff and/or management of IRN.