The Tricky Triangle provided great racing, crazy restarts
Even though Mother Nature forced us to race on a Monday, I still think the race at Pocono was one of the better ones we have had there in while. Things seem to play out and give fans everything they say they are looking for. We had some great racing for the lead at times. You have to remember on big flat tracks like Pocono and Indianapolis it's hard to get that lap after lap side-by-side racing.
Obviously as a former crew chief I've never been a fan of torn-up race cars, but we did have those mixed in with our ten cautions Monday afternoon. The fans seem to hang their hat on beat up race cars, so we had some of that.
The good thing that does come from cautions are the restarts and the restarts Monday were absolutely crazy. You were seeing drivers go five, six and even seven wide at times, which they can do on those long, wide straightaways at Pocono.
The old school of thought was that Pocono was usually a place where a veteran performs better than the younger drivers. Let's face it; a long flat two-and-a-half-mile track with only three turns isn't something these younger guys are used to. Actually what we have seen this past decade of racing there, experience isn't the major key. Go back to 2006 when Denny Hamlin was a rookie at Pocono. He not only sat on both poles but he won both races.
Monday saw rookie Chase Elliott lead 51 laps the most of anyone in the race and he was competitive all day long Chase did end up finishing fourth which also put him in some rare air. Chase is first rookie to get five Top 5 finishes in first 14 races of a season since Dale Earnhardt Sr. in 1979. So that in and of itself says a lot about how Chase's rookie year is going. So obviously it's not always about the experience you have racing at Pocono.
I think Monday's race also went a long way to show you how much depth these race teams have today. Kurt's normal crew chief Tony Gibson was penalized with a one race suspension due to a lug-nut issue after the Coca Cola 600. So the No. 41 engineer Johnny Klausmeier filled in yesterday and not only got his first win but helped Kurt get his first win of the season. So that was pretty neat but also a tip of the hat to Tony Gibson for assembling a great group over there at the No. 41 car.
2016 continues to develop into an interesting season. For a while there it looked like we weren't going to have a lot of different winners, but now after the last six races we've had six different winners.
I know it's hard to believe, but that was Chevrolet's first win in almost three months. You have to go all the way back to Auto Club Speedway on March 20th when Jimmie Johnson won to find a Chevrolet in Victory Lane.
I'll be honest, after Monday's race at Pocono I left the FOX NASCAR booth with a headache. We always know that strategy plays a huge role at Pocono with Monday being no exception. I think we did a great job of keeping up with it but golly it was all over the board.
I also think the flatter tracks, like Pocono, are where we are seeing this 2016 low downforce package make the biggest difference. I think to some degree that is why we ended up with those 10 cautions Monday at Pocono.