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The Hot Pass: Stewart upbeat despite crash
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LONG POND, Pa.Points leader and polesitter Tony Stewart went through the spin cycle at Pocono Raceway on Saturday. Stewart, who posted the third fastest time (166.701 mph) on the speed chart in the first of two practices Saturday, completed 11 laps before losing control of his No. 14 Office Depot Chevrolet exiting the tunnel turn. He missed the wall but damaged the front-end after going off track. "I went off into the grass but I hit the right front off the splitter with I guess one of the access roads or something and ripped the whole nose off of it." The team went to a back-up car chassis 450. The former Haas-CNC Racing car had five starts before receiving a new front clip and body for 2009. Stewart drove the car at Las Vegas earlier this season, where he started 10th and finished 26th. Although the team missed the first 10 minutes of Happy Hour, Smoke climbed from eighth to sixth by the end of the session with a lap of 164.817 mph. "If I knew the back-up car was going to be this good I would have crashed the other car after the first lap," Stewart smirked after his run. All joking aside, Smoke was off for lunch and a quick nap while he waited for his guys to put the finishing touches on the back-up car. Then the driver/owner was treating the team to a night of dirt-track racing at his Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, OH. Although the Prelude to the Dream charity race scheduled for this week was scrubbed until Sept. 9 due to rain, the show goes on for the 15th annual Dirt Late Model Dream Saturday night. Stewart qualified 24th for the event, but the field will be inverted and he will start on the pole in the sixth heat.
Hamlin tops Happy HourDenny Hamlin topped the speed chart in Happy Hour on Saturday with a lap of 165.317 mph. He reached the speed on the second circuit before posting 46 laps for the day.
Biffle leads the Ford campGreg Biffle jumped from 11th-fastest in morning practice to third in Happy Hour with a lap of 165.210 mph. In 12 starts on the 2.5-mile "tricky triangle," Biffle's best finish is fourth. Biffle said the No. 16 Ford was handling "decent" and he expects the track to be pretty similar to the current practice conditions or maybe a little slicker on Sunday. The veteran Roush Fenway racer is hoping the speed he gained on Saturday will translate to success during the race. "The guys are pretty happy with the lap times," Biffle said. "They think we have a top-five car. That's good for us here."
This week, NASCAR rolls into Pocono, where TNT analyst Wally Dallenbach had a top-5 and two top-10s in 17 tries. Wally's average finish at Pocono was 23.9 and in 1992, he finished 32nd in a race won by ... FOX's own Darrell Waltrip. We remind everyone (including Wally) that it's "Be Kind to Gophers Month," so no more talk about doing mean things to the furry little fella, OK?