Tag:Pocono Raceway
Posted on: January 26, 2012 2:08 pm

Pocono patriarch Joe Mattioli passes away

Posted by Pete Pistone

From News Release

Long Pond, PA (January 26, 2012) ― Dr. Joseph Mattioli, Pocono Raceway Founder and Chairman of the Board, passed away today at the Lehigh Valley Hospital Center, surrounded by his loving family, following a lengthy illness. He was 86. “Doc” as he was known to friends and associates, was one of the most respected and admired men in automobile racing. He founded Pocono Raceway in the early 1960’s and has been at the helm of Pocono ever since. Under his leadership, the track grew in stature and has hosted 68 very successful NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Events. His passion and drive helped Pocono Raceway succeed when other tracks fell by the wayside. Pocono Raceway is the only remaining family owned and run track on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule. He was always concerned that race fans and race car drivers and their families were treated with the upmost respect and constantly upgraded procedures and Raceway facilities to meet that goal.

He kept his fingers on the pulse of stock car racing and read everything printed concerning the sport. He was in the office daily, until last fall, and oversaw all aspects of the Pocono Raceway operations. At age 83, Dr. Mattioli spearheaded an ambitious solar energy project. He built a three megawatt photovoltaic solar energy system on 25 acres at Pocono Raceway. It is the world’s largest solar-powered sports facility, making Pocono Raceway a leader in the renewable energy and environmental fields.

Dr. Mattioli was also well respected in the community. In 2009, he received the Philanthropic Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Association of Fundraising Professionals for his generous and continuous contributions to local civic organizations, hospitals, schools and charities. He served on the board of directors of numerous organizations and was dedicated to improving the quality of life in Northeastern Pennsylvania. 

He served in the Pacific during World War Two as a Navy medic. Using the G.I. bill, he enrolled in the dentistry program at Temple University (where he met his soon to be wife, Rose.) Upon graduation, he developed his dental practice into a very lucrative business by working 12 to 14 hour days, six and sometimes seven days a week. He then began investing in and developing properties in Philadelphia and Northeastern Pennsylvania where he became involved in the start up of Pocono Raceway. 

Dr. Mattioli is survived by his wife of 63 years, Dr. Rose, daughters Louie and Michele and son Joseph Mattioli III, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. His passing leaves a void in the NASCAR community and especially to his family and extended “Pocono Raceway” family.      

Service Arrangements for Dr. Joseph Mattioli are incomplete at this time.

More NASCAR coverage

Posted on: January 5, 2012 2:46 pm

Pocono offers half price tickets for kids

Posted by Pete Pistone

From News Release

Long Pond, PA (January 5, 2012) – Pocono Raceway, home of two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events annually, has always strived to be fan friendly with an emphasis on families. Pocono Raceway is proud to announce its latest initiative, Kids 12 and under will be admitted at half price to ALL Concourse Grandstand sections for the June 10, Pocono 400 and the August 5, Pennsylvania 400, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events in 2012. These sections include: Concourse Gold (adult price $55.00, kids price $27.50), Concourse Vista (adult price $50.00, kids price $25.00) and Concourse (adult price $45.00, kids price $22.50.)

The Concourse Grandstand runs the along the front straight at Pocono Raceway (nearly 3,000 feet), so fans purchasing the kids tickets have the option of choosing seats  at or near the start/finish line, near Turn # 1 or near Turn # 3. All Concourse Gold sections contain body contoured bucket seats. (All Kids tickets must be purchased with at least one full-priced ticket. All seating is subject to availability. Everyone must have a Sunday grandstand ticket for Raceday admission. Gate validation at time of entry required.)

As in the past, Kids 12 and under are admitted free (with a paying adult) to all grandstand sections on Friday and Saturday for practice, qualifying and companion races including the Camping World Truck Series race in August. Grandstand parking is always free at Pocono Raceway. Make Pocono Raceway a memorable racing experience for your family and kids in 2012 with great racing action and huge savings.

More NASCAR coverage
Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: October 4, 2011 11:29 am

Pocono repaving plan begins

Posted by Pete Pistone

From News Release

Long Pond, PA. (October 4, 2011) - On June 4, 2010 Pocono Raceway announced the Raceway was embarking on an expansive construction project directed to improve driver safety and enhance competition.  In the fall of 2010, more 5,500 feet of the new generation SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) barrier was installed to the inside of the track from the exit of turn one to the entrance of turn three, and more than 6,100 feet of  catch fence added from the front straight to turn two. Today, Raceway President and CEO, Brandon Igdalsky announced the kick-off of phase two of the project that includes:  a new outer pit wall, concrete pit stalls and repaving of the 2.5 mile superspeedway, known as “The Tricky Triangle.”

“We received input from a number of drivers, as well as, NASCAR Officials before making our final improvement plans,” stated Igdalsky. “A new outer pit wall will replace the current pit wall and new concrete pit stalls will provide an excellent surface for pit stops and subsequent burn-outs. Our pit stalls are already among the largest on the circuit and our pit road is one of the widest and safest in NASCAR,” Igdalsky added. “Pocono was last repaved in 1995 and all construction work will be completed prior to Pocono Raceway’s June 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event.”

The 2012 Pocono Raceway schedule includes the June 10, Pocono 400 and the August 5, Pennsylvania 400, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events. An ARCA 200-mile race will be run on Saturday, June 9. An ARCA 125-mile race and a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 125-mile race will be run on Saturday, August 4.  NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pole Qualifying will also be conducted on the Saturday prior to each Sprint Cup Series event.

Renewal forms for 2012 tickets have been sent out to existing ticket holders. June 2011 ticket holders will receive a 10 percent discount on tickets ordered by October 31. August 2011 ticket holders will receive a 20 percent discount on tickets ordered by November 1 or a 10 percent discount on tickets ordered by December 31. Additionally, if race fans renew their tickets for the 2012 season by October 31, they will be automatically entered into a random drawing for two tickets to 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Banquet in Las Vegas on Friday, December 2 and $500 spending cash.

More NASCAR coverage
Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: August 10, 2011 1:09 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2011 10:47 am

Pocono shortens both its races to 400 miles

Posted by Pete Pistone

From News Release

Pocono Raceway’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was in 1974, a second Sprint Cup Series race was added to the Pocono schedule in 1982. Sunday’s Good Sam RV Insurance 500 was the 68th Sprint Cup Series at Pocono Raceway. Each race was scheduled for 500 miles and each produced its share of drama and excitement.

Starting with the June 10, 2012 Pocono Sprint Cup Series race, the scheduled distance for both NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races will be shortened to 400 miles. “The 400 mile distance will make NASCAR racing at Pocono even more exciting,” stated Raceway President and CEO , Brandon Igdalsky.  “Race strategies will change, fuel mileage calculations will be altered and I firmly believe that our fans will be treated to outstanding racing at the 400 mile distance.”

“NASCAR supports Pocono Raceway’s move to two 400-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in 2012,” stated Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR Senior Vice President, Racing  Operations . “We believe this will be a good transition for the fans and competitors. It will provide the teams with a new type of strategy and should make for even more exciting competition at a unique facility that has a long-standing history in our sport.”

Eight weeks after the Pocono 400. It will be the August 5, Pennsylvania 400. Both 400 mile races will have the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards as companion races. The August Pennsylvania 400 weekend will also feature a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on August 4.

More NASCAR coverage

Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: August 8, 2011 11:51 am

Around the Circuit: weekend web wrap

Posted by Pete Pistone

News, notes and nuggets from around the World Wide Web in the aftermath of the weekend's racing in both Pocono and Iowa:







More NASCAR coverage
Posted on: August 7, 2011 10:06 pm
Edited on: August 8, 2011 11:48 am

Brad Keselowski, team post Pocono comments

Posted by Pete Pistone

Okay. Let's roll into our post race-winning team for today's 38th Annual Good Sam RV Insurance 500 here at Pocono Raceway. Our winner is Brad Keselowski. He drives the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge for Penske Racing, joined by his crew chief Paul Wolfe.           

Brad, a couple of thoughts. First of all, just the series of events this week, racing as you had to, with your physical condition, that's one. Second, with the second win now of the season for you, puts you in good stead for the wildcard berth certainly as you moved up to 18th in points, I believe.           

And, third, with this victory here today, you qualify now for the Sprint Summer Showdown, if you can win in Atlanta. Based upon this win today, you know, it's not only a big payday for you but also for your charity and a lucky fan with that Sprint Summer Showdown. I know I'm only supposed to ask you one question but I asked you three. But obviously what a terrific deal here for you today. Just talk about your emotions and about winning today, overcoming what you had to overcome.          

BRAD KESELOWSKI: Well, there's not really any time for emotions. It's been a hell of a week. From last Sunday, what a great car at the Brickyard, and we're almost in position to win it. Didn't quite catch the right breaks and felt really good about that. Certainly brought a lot of confidence into this weekend.           

And I felt like we could run strong here. And I guess I was a little surprised that we weren't exactly a little faster than we were at the beginning of the weekend.           

But I knew some of the struggles I had gone through with wreck and so forth that that was probably holding everybody back a little bit. So I guess we tried to work around that the best we could, and did a good job of that.           

About the end of the first run of the race today, I felt like we were really, really strong and had a good shot of getting a solid day out of it. I wasn't sure we were going to be able to win. But I felt we could win somewhere around fifth.           

But this guy here, Paul Wolfe, adjusted on it, made it a little bit better. We got that rain delay, which was a great recharge session for me, and it's what we needed.           

Everything kind of came together here, and we were able to overcome adversity, and I think when we look back at this years from now I think that's what I'll think about, overcoming adversity.           

And I say this to Paul and everyone on my team, that nobody gives us anything. And they sure as hell didn't give us anything this weekend. This was an earn-it weekend. And I've always wanted to win a Cup race and earn it, not fuel mileage, not Talladega, a real win. And today feels like that.          

And for that I'm real proud. And I can't wait to see what the next few months bring us.           

I think winning two races is probably really good for our Chase hopes, gives us pretty high odds if we were playing poker, but nothing is 100 percent until it's 100 percent. So lots of races left. Keep plugging away. Maybe if we keep running like this, maybe we can get a third win and we'll be damn near immune, unless we fall out of the top 20. Going in the right direction with this 2 team, and proud of everyone on the Miller Lite Dodge Charger, this is a big win for us. This is somewhat of a validation, I think.           

THE MODERATOR: Crew chief Paul Wolfe is up here. And, Paul, talk about you had the long rain delay. Almost two hours. And then it seemed like after that rain delay the car just came alive. So talk about how things transpired out there for you today.           

PAUL WOLFE:  Well, I think the biggest thing was getting the track position. Like Brad said, we knew we had a pretty good car there. We were able to hang 8th to 10th there the first half of the race. I remember Brad coming on the radio at one point and just asking for some track position. And he thought we'd be okay.           

So we felt like we had a good enough car that if we had some clean air, we could run up front.           

So we got close looking at the weather. My engineers did a great job at monitoring the radar all race long, and we got down there at that point in the race, it was like they were pretty confident that it was going to rain, but we were going to -- it was going to clear out enough where we could finish the race.           

So it's all about those two wins to get into The Chase. We knew that's what it was going to take. I felt like it was somewhat of a gamble to come down at that point. But at the same time we felt like it was an educated gamble at that. It wasn't just a shot in the dark.           

And it ended up all working out how they had said it would. And once we got the car up front, obviously we showed we had the speed as much as anybody. And there on that last restart, that was the deal. It was whoever was going to get out front. The 18 and ourselves were pretty equal there, and it was all about making it happen on the restart, and that was all Brad there on that last restart, being able to get out front. And at that point I know the 18 was driving the wheels off his car to try to get by us. But just wasn't able to do it.           

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Brad or Paul?            

Q. Can you tell us, 1 to 10, what the level of pain was that you were enduring? And did that break just give you time to relax the foot, just to kind of get it back and go on? And also you mentioned the soldiers in Afghanistan. I think you have a cousin or something that you said you kind of used that as something to drive you this weekend?           

BRAD KESELOWSKI: Well, certainly I guess I'll start with the last part. I do have a cousin in the Navy Seals. One of the guys who died over there was someone he knew, was friends with. Told me a little bit about this week and it kind of put things in perspective.          

I might not be feeling great, but those are the guys that are really making sacrifices. We're just driving race cars for a living. We're not curing cancer or saving the world like those guys are.           

So that's kind of -- it was inspirational for me. Whenever I got in the car and felt like this hurts, I don't want to do this, I want to get out, that was good inspiration on what it means to man up and make it happen, because it's really not that bad.           

So, I mean, as far as the pain scale, hell, I don't know, I'm not real good at those pain scales, I guess, because I don't know what everybody calls what. But I know it just hurt. And felt a whole lot better when they waved that checker flag, until I had to get back out of the car. That didn't feel better. But it all worked out today. And thankful to have good people to help me through it.           

Like Paul said, we had great strategy today. Strategy didn't win us race but it gave us the opportunity to win it and we were able to win it on our own merits from there.            

Q. Every driver who comes in here says, oh, yeah, we try to win every race; we try to do the best we can. Realistically, honestly, when you woke up this morning, what were you thinking and hoping was the best you were going to possibly do?           

BRAD KESELOWSKI: That's you, Paul.           

PAUL WOLFE:  You're asking me?           

BRAD KESELOWSKI: I want to hear your answer.            

Q. Both of you.           

PAUL WOLFE:  Well, like Brad said, we felt like we had a really good car last week at Indy, and had ourselves in position for a shot to win. And it was a rough week for us. Obviously I was down at Road Atlanta when we had that wreck.           

Just for Brad to be able to be in the car this weekend I thought was an accomplishment after seeing how tore up he was after that wreck and what he had to go through.           

But like Brad said, at the end of the day we're just lucky to be able do what we love to do for a living and I'm sure he can talk about it a little more. But did I feel like we were going to come out here and win with the condition Brad was in? I thought we could put ourselves into position, but really proud of what he was able to do there. And I saw how tired he was and whatnot after the first half of the race.           

But we're racers, and we want to win racing. We work really hard. And I think that's what we showed today.            

Q. When you woke up this morning, realistically, what did you think was the best you could do?           

BRAD KESELOWSKI: Going to win the race. I came here to win. When you let the pain get into your head that far that you don't believe you can win anymore, you'll never win.           

And I woke up this morning feeling like we could win the race. And at the end of the halfway break, went into my motor home, had my doctor with me, and took care of me a little bit. I told him, all right, let's go win the race. And that's how I felt about it.           

If you don't feel that way, you're never going to win at anything you do.            

Q. I assume there is going to be a furor around the end of this thing, on that restart, Kyle Busch, best restarter in the business, I think, maybe you probably think, too, he's on the inside, he likes the inside. You got Jimmie Johnson back there. What were you thinking on that restart? Because you're getting out front on that restart was the key to the race.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI: Well, yeah, I think I really had some bad restarts at the first half of the day and kind of took something from that to make sure I had a better one at the end.           

And at the end of the day you come to tracks like this where there's really long straightaways, and it's much like this in the Nationwide car, probably more often, your fate as the leader of the restart is determined by the success of the car directly behind you and what he chooses to do.           

And Kyle's fate was sealed the second the 48 made the move that he did. And there's no way for him to know that. You know, I think probably the best way of explaining it is if you go back to the restart before that, with me and the 22, I think, were on the front row. I think the 31 was behind Kurt and the 20 was behind me.           

If you go back to that restart, we were pretty even all the way through turn 1. We had equal help coming through the gears. And Joey, up off of 2, was able to clear the 31 car and get down in the lower lane and give Kurt a push.           

Now, that sealed the fate of what was going to happen for everybody. And so at the end of the day, the success rate of the car behind you is really the difference-maker at tracks like this. And it's probably hard to explain. Probably hard to see and understand, but that's just the reality of it with the way racing works. And that's the deal.            

Q. Paul, how tough a call was that to bring the two Penske cars in for fuel and tires right before the rain was supposed to get there? Did you have second thoughts about taking a risk like that, given the fact that it could have rained and stopped the race at that point completely?           

PAUL WOLFE:  Absolutely. I think there's always a risk in any call like that. As we've seen here of late, everybody's getting more aggressive on their calls and how we're playing the fuel strategy game.           

But I had pretty good confidence. My engineers, they seemed like they were pretty confident that we were going to go back green. So at that point I know it's going to take calls like that to get us in The Chase. And we've got cars that are fast enough now at this point in the season to race in The Chase.           

We've just had a rocky start to get here. So I feel, like I said, we're good enough to be in The Chase, and I knew it was going to take a call like today to get another win to get us closer to that opportunity.           

So, yeah, it was --           

BRAD KESELOWSKI: Just tell them, Paul, you got balls this big. (Laughter ) just tell them. Because if it wouldn't have worked out, man it would have been rough, whew. (Laughter) 

PAUL WOLFE:  So try to make calls like that that are somewhat educated. They might seem a little more risky to people who don't have all the information in front of them, similar to what we were able to do at Kansas.           

But we're sitting here with a win today. And I feel like we've still got some tracks coming up here before The Chase where we have an opportunity to win another one.            

Q. Brad, what gave you the most discomfort in the car? And how did your injury, how did you have to adjust?           

BRAD KESELOWSKI: What gave me the most discomfort? I think probably the biggest thing for me was, since I've been laying in a bed laying around for two or three days, the energy that you lose from that. Just complete zap of energy loss was probably the biggest thing.           

I just didn't have any energy in the car. And I'm wearing a foot brace, which was helpful. But, again, you lose some things and still hurt to push the pedal, but it didn't hurt as bad it would if I wasn't.

And to add into that, I cut my hand open shifting from a blister, because I didn't get it taped because I forgot about that worrying about my leg. It was about every damn thing you can think of, other than having to pee. But it's just the way it goes.            

Q. Brad, I don't know if this is quite the same as John Menard and Paul Menard, but your dad won here a number of years ago.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yes, he did.            

Q. Could you talk about how that feels to win here, the fact that he did that a number of years ago as well?           

BRAD KESELOWSKI: Absolutely. My dad won here in ARCA, made his one and only Cup start here and random stat time in the media room. But my uncle ran a race here in USAC, back when they ran USAC here. This track has always been very special to my family and treated us very well.           

Didn't treat me very well in the three other starts I made here. So it's nice to kind of make up for it.            

Q. That was my question, get your reactions Brian Keselowski winning a 500 mile --           

BRAD KESELOWSKI: Was it 500 miles?           

Q. It was 500-mile USAC stock car race. 1974, the last year -- 

BRAD KESELOWSKI: Were you there?           

Q. No. I was at Martinsville.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI: He was there, wasn't he?            

Q. Everybody thinks I'm old. I was at the first three USAC stock car races. But the one I didn't cover was the one that Brian won.          

BRAD KESELOWSKI: I'd like to see a newspaper clipping of that, because I've heard the stories and seen pictures of the car, but --            

Q. Buddy Baker was in that race. He had the pole. He had that 71 car.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI: The way my uncle tells the story, he smoked the field. So I've always wanted to know if he really smoked the field or not.           

Q. We'll have to look that up.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI: I'd really like to know that because if he didn't, boy, would I give him hell.            

Q. Paul, we all heard Brad say that he was definitely racing today, he wasn't getting out of the car. I was curious if you have any say?           

BRAD KESELOWSKI: I said I wasn't getting out of my damn car. (Laughter) 

Q. I was curious, Paul, do you have any say in that? And was there any time where you thought you may need to talk to somebody and say, hey, maybe he shouldn't run?           

PAUL WOLFE:  I hope I have enough respect and Brad has enough respect for me that if I felt that way that he would. But there were no signs of that this weekend. I had some people talk to me on Friday and ask what I was going to do in the car to make it so Brad could drive the thing with the pain he was in and the trouble with his foot.           

He sat in the car Friday before practice and felt real good about it and didn't want us to do anything different than we would normally do. And basically what I thought the best thing we could do to help his foot was give him a fast race car. And all the guys worked really hard on the Miller Lite Dodge to do that this weekend. And I think giving him a fast race car took care of anything that we could have ever done to help him inside the car.            

Q. Brad, you talked about today you woke up thinking you were going to win the race. When you had the accident on Wednesday, you know, sitting in the hospital, sending pictures of your ankle, what did you think about this weekend? Did you think, A, you were going to get in the car? Could you imagine that you were going to be standing in victory lane?           

BRAD KESELOWSKI: I knew I was getting in the car. I just wasn't sure how I was going to convince Paul and Roger that I was doing it. Thankfully the doctors handled that part for me. And I'm glad of that. But it just all worked out.            

Q. Were you doubting at all?           

BRAD KESELOWSKI: No. Not for me. I don't know about him.           

PAUL WOLFE:  He's lying.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI: There was a moment where I said all right what doctor am I going to have to bribe. Never a moment of doubt. For the record, I didn't, because I know you'll try to write that story. I didn't have my wallet (smiling).            

Q. Brad, have you spoken with Roger yet, and what was the substance of that conversation, if you have?           

BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yes, I did. And they're in mid-Ohio today. I don't know how it went. But not good. Okay. Well, I'm glad we could carry the banner, do the checkered flag flying. Glad we could fly one for them.           

But, yeah, I did speak with him. I can't remember much of what he said to be honest, there were a lot of people yelling and really kind of turned off my memory bank. We talked a little bit about the soldiers in Afghanistan and that was actually what I do remember of the conversation, and I think that he feels the same way about it as I did and what I said in the media center. Not media center, where were we? The Victory Lane. And so that meant a lot to me that he would say that.            

Q. When do you guys think what you've done today will sink in? Basically if you don't test between now and Richmond, you're virtually in?           

BRAD KESELOWSKI: I don't know. Hell. Probably be under a couple of beers, probably sink in real good then. Hell, Paul, when do you think it's going to sink?           

PAUL WOLFE:  I don't know. I just feel this team's come a long way. And I'm just excited to be able to be part of it. And I feel like we're only going to get stronger as we start visiting some of these other tracks for a second time. Obviously Pocono being the first one of those, and to be able to have somewhat of a notebook now. We still have a long ways to grow and be better and that's the encouraging part. To have already won two races this season and know that we're not operating at our max potential yet, I think it says a lot about the team and what we're capable of, and everybody at Penske Racing has done a great job of giving us the tools we need and it's our job to go out here and do what we did today.           

So excited about what we've done, and like I said, just can't wait to get back to the next race.            

Q. Both of you -- Brad, you said this earlier, the magic words: If you're able to stay in the top 20. Any strategy now changes where you kind of try to protect your position a little bit to making calls, that kind of stuff? Do you still kind of go after it these last five races?           

BRAD KESELOWSKI: Hell, I don't know. I haven't really thought that far yet. Shoot, we just need to go out and do what we've been doing, everything will be fine.          

PAUL WOLFE:  I agree. Like I said, we've had cars fast enough to be in the top 20 easily in points. We just gotta limit the mistakes. Obviously the two wins is huge.           

And, like I said, I feel as a team we're capable of more before The Chase, but we just gotta keep doing what we're doing, and try and limit any mistakes.           

We take a little less of a risk on some calls, yeah, possibly. But like I said, today was a little bit of a gamble, but it was -- I feel like we made an educated decision on that call. And if we feel like that's what we need to do to have a shot at another win, I see us doing that.

More NASCAR coverage

Posted on: August 7, 2011 9:49 pm

Kyle and Kurt Busch post Pocono comments

Posted by Pete Pistone

Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch met the media after their second and third place finishes respectively in Sunday's Good Sam RV Insurance 500 at Pocono Raceway. Kurt also addressed his late race battle and altercation with Jimmie Johnson:

KYLE BUSCH: We had an awesome M&M’s Camry. The guys were flawless this weekend. We brought out a great car right off the truck and worked real hard at it. Certainly it was fast and was proving that for a little while. That last caution killed us. I just hated to see that. I was really hoping that we could go green the rest of the way. I felt like our car was fast out front when I can run my own pace and run my own line and then we had that restart, and I had been running lower in 1 and 2 all day so I figured that would be my choice just to stay low and I tried to get a good exit off of Turn 1 but Jimmie got alongside of me down the frontstretch and kind of bogged me down a little bit there on the restart, slowed me up. But we were able to go off into Turn 1 I think threewide and somehow I got outside. Got through it and then tried chasing down the 2. Just didn’t have enough. Kurt gave me a shot down the back there to help me clear Jimmie and that was my saving grace so I didn’t stuck back there battling with those guys. All in all, a great day to come home second but really disappointed that we couldn’t win here at one of my worst tracks, and in front of all of our M&Ms people that were here today and from nearby Hackettstown, and, you know, also getting that Sprint bonus deal for Atlanta. We'd like to get a win before that happens, and get some charity money and, of course, get some money for our race fans, too.            

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Kyle. Joining Kyle is Kurt Busch. Kurt drives the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Dodge for Penske Racing. Solid performance out there, third place today.           

He comes now into the championship standings fourth place in the points right now. Kurt, you led a lot of laps out there. Talk about, you had the rain delay, almost two-hour rain delay. Looked like you came back after that rain delay and that car was stronger than ever. And just talk about how things unfolded for you out there this afternoon.           

KURT BUSCH:  Today was definitely a hard-fought battle. Early on we were able to benefit from our good qualifying position and run up front, exchanged the lead back and forth a little bit with Logano and Hamlin. Running right there at third, fourth, fifth, just clicking away laps.           

But we always start off good when the track's fresh, and then we just start to slide more and more and more as the track rubbers in.           

And we were struggling just kind of hanging on to a top 10 spot. And the rains came, and we pitted right before the rain, at the time I thought my crew chief was crazy. That would have trapped us 26th if we didn't get it back underway.           

But luckily we did. And it looked like the Penske guys were the smartest guys when it came to rain delay, because we came out of there 1-2 after that restart.           

And, again, our car just took off on a fresh racetrack that wasn't rubbered in, and then the racetrack rubbered up really quick those last 60, 70, 80, laps and we were hanging on to it in the end, brought it home third. Good hard-fought battle for us, rooting for those two in front of me my teammate and my younger brother to wreck each other, but not to wreck each other. Of course I wanted both of them to win and I wanted to win. Anybody but the 48. And us three, we came home up front.           

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Kurt or Kyle.            

Q. Kyle, to what degree did you feel like a lion chasing down prey at the end of the race, since you didn't catch or beat Brad, how impressed were you with his performance?            

KYLE BUSCH: Certainly they got track position on me and I could stay right with them but I couldn't get, anytime I got too close I'd lose the air off my car and I couldn't get a run on them. So I felt like if we would have got out front, I think I could have pulled away more than he pulled away from me but just a matter of thattrack position.           

So certainly he gave it everything he had and played tough and did a good job. So it actually helps here, I think, to use less brake than more brake. So that might be beneficial to have a foot problem anytime you come to Pocono, in my opinion.           

Q. Kurt, with what you overcame today to get back in the top 5 first of all, to any degree was the paint exchange with Jimmie Johnson, the way you beat him down, kind of I've had enough and I'm going to get through this day?           

KURT BUSCH:  Yeah, we had a good battle all day, and especially at the end with the 48.           

But our car, it does really good with fresh tires and then as the track rubbers in, it's a battle. I can't explain it.           

And thinking today, you know, we borrowed Brad Keselowski's setup. We put it in race morning. Went for it. And I could do nothing but smile all day to say thanks to a teammate and congratulations to him in victory lane, even with his sore foot.           

Like Kyle said, sometimes you might want to use a little less brake here, and I can't, I couldn't just hold back the smile on my face to see those guys doing well.           

And for us to beat the 48, I mean, we've had our battles. And a lot of times I come out on the short end of the stick. But what I saw today was good, hard racing, where one guy jukes at the other, the other guy jukes back and rubs you a little bit, that's racing. That's what race fans love to see. That's what they bought this ticket for. That's what they're sitting in the grandstands rooting on their favorite driver for is to see him get out there, mix it up clean and bring it home just like we were, third and fourth.            

Q. Kurt, according to my notes, lap 1 you were three and a half seconds ahead, and you lost that all in about 12 laps, is that just -- does the car go away that fast or was there a specific problem?          

KURT BUSCH:  No, our car goes away that fast, crew chief reading off lap times when Kyle was behind us, he said you're four-tenths quicker, you're three-tenths quicker, two-tenths quicker, you're one-tenth, you're even, and it goes just that fast. It's just a tenth of a lap that I'm battling and I cannot figure out why.            

So the rain delay really helped us today to get a top 5.            

Q. Kurt, were you not upset at all with the way Jimmie raced, were you just upset with him coming to you and --           

KURT BUSCH:  Here we go, People Magazine. I'm glad you asked. We were racing hard. I think that's what we saw on TV and exactly that's what should be reported. There are a lot of times when the 22 is on the short end of the stick of the 48. And I raced him hard today. I'm glad I did. I have no regrets in it.            

Q. Kyle, in response to Kurt's comments, would you like to see just as much of that and a little less give and take afterwards by the drivers?           

KURT BUSCH:  You wonder why we don't because we have to come in here and answer battled questions like this. Just accept it: It was great racing.            

Q. On that same subject there?           

KYLE BUSCH:  I didn't see it. I didn't see it. I have no idea what happened.            

Q. When there's bumping and banging, it's a natural thing to go on during the race, do you wish sometimes that drivers would just accept it as part of the show, putting on a good show, as Kurt said, and not have a problem with it after the fact?            

KYLE BUSCH:  Depends on how it is and where it is, who it is, all that kinds of stuff. Certainly those two may have a little bit of a history, for me, if it was Brad Keselowski and me, I'd probably be a little tweaked. But again I don't know what happened. But you'd expect it at Martinsville or Bristol or Richmond, those kinds of places. Not so much at two and a half mile or mile and a half stuff. We're going too fast.            

Q. Kurt, can you talk about just the fact that you never gave up? I mean, even at a time when you guys opted to take a different tire plan than somebody else, but you were frustrated but you just didn't let it get to you and just kind of fought back for your position?           

KURT BUSCH:  That's what I try to do each and every week is give my best effort and not give up. No matter what comes at us. Some days it feels like we're just running an uphill battle and can't quite run the lap times that it takes.           

I feel like we're a very good top 10 car. But we really have to work hard and find a unique way to get these top 5s. And so I'm never going to lay down behind the wheel. When I show frustration, people get excited oh wow he's lost focus just brought home another third place finish.            

Q. Kyle, long day today, ran the two races, came up short in both. Is that frustrating to -- put in this long day and just miss out in both of them? Just kind of what your mood finishing second here two races today?           

KYLE BUSCH:  Certainly it's definitely frustrating. With the truck race we expected second. So that's not bad. But here, for as good as our M&M's Camry was today, we expected a little more than that.           

Normally we're coming down and trying to beat the 11 car at the end, and lo and behold we have somebody come out of nowhere. I feel like he ran top 5, top 8 all day, I guess, but I didn't know that he was that good there at the end.           

So certainly we wish we would have run or maybe made a little bit of an adjustment on that last pit stop to help it. But I think it's kind of ironic, the 2 won both races and the 18 finished second both races. Just a little weird, that's all.            

Q. Kurt, we've seen how physically demanding this track is, and we've all seen the pictures of Brad's ankle. Can you give us some perspective as far as him racing his car to victory lane on that kind of a physical condition?           

KURT BUSCH:  That was like when Denny Hamlin had knee surgery won the week right after that. Those are moments in our sport that need to be documented as an ironman type day, as a day where somebody knew they weren't 100 percent physically prepared, but they went out there and overcame it mentally to win.           

And it's amazing what the body can do. And for him to go through that wreck this week and to get back on his horse right away and find success, that's only going to make Brad Keselowski a better racer.            

Q. Kyle, can you just describe, Kyle, after that penalty, how you made your way back up through the field so quickly?           

KYLE BUSCH:  It comes down to a great race car. Dave and the guys, like I said, we unloaded Friday really good. We were really good I felt off the truck and through the practice we made some changes spent most of our time in race trim. Qualifying well helped us getting that track position but then I ruined it. I just like coming from the back here, I guess, I might as well just start from there every time. But certainly we had a great car to be able to work our way through the traffic and come back up through there as quickly as we did and as smoothly as we did.           

So I was kind of surprised by that, but, you know, felt really good about where our car was, when we did do that.            

Q. Kyle, were you upset about that penalty?           

KYLE BUSCH:  For a moment. Certainly I felt like I slid across the commitment line before the caution came out, because I still heard guys racing behind me because my car was shut off. And then I heard cars lifting out of the throttle and slowing down. So I felt like we were across the line, but that's not for me to decide. I didn't see the film.           

So NASCAR's got better judgment of that, and we have to leave it to them to police us and put us in the right spot.            

Q. Were you surprised that he raced?           

KYLE BUSCH:  Who?            

Q. Brad.           

KYLE BUSCH:  I sprained my ankle two years ago and had to go through the most retarded exam ever to make sure I could put weight on my foot. And I don't even know how Brad put weight on his foot today but he was walking around with a boot on and everything.           

So, I don't know, mine was a tenth of the injury that his is, and I had to go through NASCAR physical inspection. I guess I had to make sure I fit templates. His doesn't.           

KURT BUSCH:  I was amazed that he raced the full race. My initial thought was we've got to get Sam Hornish, Jr. up here or Parker Kligerman to be on standby. Your first thought is you can swap out a driver here without losing a lap.           

But this is a day that needs to be documented as Keselowski's win and not the feud between Busch and Jimmie, because what we do is just race hard on the track every week. And that's the way I'd like it to be documented, and if we watch the tape, we'll see that the 48 swerved into us first and I know that before even watching the tape.

More NASCAR coverage
Posted on: August 7, 2011 8:43 pm
Edited on: August 8, 2011 9:40 am

Speed Read: Pocono

By Pete Pistone


Good Sam RV Insurance 500 Recap

Making it through a 500 mile race at Pocono Raceway is a grind for both drivers and fans. 

The pair of annual races at the 2.5-mile triangular track are two of the longest stops on the schedule. 

But making it not just to the end of the race from behind the wheel but to victory lane is going above and beyond. 

Which makes Brad Keselowski’s win Sunday all the more amazing. 

Just a few days earlier, Keselowski was being air lifted from his destroyed racecar after a violent crash while testing at Road Atlanta. He broke his ankle and injured his foot in the crash, causing some to wonder if he’d be forced to sit on the sidelines come Sunday’s Pocono race day. 

While bowing out of his scheduled Nationwide Series duties at Iowa Speedway Saturday night, Keselowski vowed he’d be ready when the bell rang at Pocono and was more than true to his word. 

Keselowski not only made it through the entire 500 miles he did it ahead of the rest of the field for his second Sprint Cup win of the season. 

Despite the heroic efforts, the Penske Racing driver insisted on keeping things in perspective. 

“It’s not me, its good people,” he said, giving credit to his pit crew and the decision to not head for service after a nearly two hour red flag for rain opting instead for track position.   “It’s having a Paul Wolfe (crew chief) and a team that digs. 

“I’m no hero.  The heroes are the guys that died in Afghanistan this weekend and I want to spend time thinking about them.  They were my inspiration for this weekend and the things that those guys do.  I’m glad that we could win today, but those are the heroes.  I just drive race cars for a living.” 

And with the win Keselowski could be driving for a Sprint Cup championship come September. He now leads the Wild card standings on the strength of his two victories and is in good position to make his first appearance in the Chase. 

He’s also eligible for a $1 million payday if he can back up his Pocono win with a victory in Atlanta Labor Day weekend. But right now Keselowski has a bigger goal than even that giant payday. 

“That’s pretty cool.  I’d like to win that money, but I’d much rather get these guys in the Chase,” he said pointing to his team. “I would throw away the money if I could promise them we’d be in the Chase and have a good run at the championship.”



Ryan Newman 

Desperately needed a good day to help solidify his spot in the standings and got it with a fifth place run on Sunday. He’s not completely out of the woods but Newman can sleep much better tonight knowing he improved his spot away from the Chase cut-off line. 

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Another driver who had to come out of Pocono with a solid effort and Junior got it with a ninth place finish. Maybe more important was the line of communication between between Earnhardt and crew chief Steve Letarte and a sense of renewed confidence after several weeks of frustration. 

Paul Menard 

Showed his Brickyard 400 win was not a fluke and backed up the run last week at Indianapolis with a tenth place finish at Pocono. Still very much alive in the quest for a Chase berth and could make it either through a points spot or a Wild Card berth.



David Ragan 

His Wild Card hopes took a big hit with Ragan’s hard hit against the outside wall after an early race spin. The Roush Fenway Racing driver was hoping to keep his momentum alive in the stretch to the Chase but will have to play some major catch-up now with only five to go to set the field. 

Brian Vickers 

His future Sprint Cup career is very much up in the air and Vickers’ stock didn’t get any higher when he was sidelined by an engine problem. If fact the motor problems were probably more of a shot at what’s now known as Team Red Bull’s prospects for staying alive after the season ends. 

Juan Pablo Montoya 

About the only bright spot for Montoya are the reports he’s close to signing a contract extension at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. But after another disappointing day that saw contact with Kasey Kahne send him into the wall and to a 32nd place finish, JPM may not be so sure about wanting to continue his NASCAR future.



(Choice comments and communications from drivers and crew chiefs)  

“Have we ever thought about making our cars faster?” – Kurt Busch

"It didn't sound like Denny wanted to give it to you. So I don't know what that means." – Kyle Busch’s crew chief Dave Rogers on his JGR teammate allowing the 18 car to lead a lap for points 

"I'm just so loose off of (turn) 1 and (turn) 3. I'm super tight getting in & dead-ass sideways everywhere else.'” – Jeff Gordon on his car’s handling issues 

"It's like you guys have never even been at a race before sometimes. I wonder, anyways." – Kasey Kahne



On a scale of one to five "Pistone Pistons" I’ll give Sunday’s Good Sam RV Insurance 500 a two. And those two stars are for the final 17 laps, which produced five wide racing at one point and featured the battle between Keselowski and Busch to the finish line as well as the dust-up with Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch. But otherwise Pocono unfortunately lived up to its reputation as a track that produces some of the most mundane races on the schedule. However all it would take is the snip of 100 miles and the excitement and urgency level would rise almost immediately. Let’s hope the rumors about finally shortening Pocono races are true.



What has become the perfect antidote to a less than thrilling affair looms ahead next Sunday when the Sprint Cup Series returns to a road course. Watkins Glen International Raceway lies ahead next Sunday and in the last two years the road races at The Glen and Infineon have become two of the most entertaining stops on the schedule. Next Sunday’s visit to the historic road circuit in Upstate New York should pick right up where the June visit to Sonoma left off on the high emotion meter.

More NASCAR coverage

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com