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NASCAR adds more pit road timing zones at Pocono

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NASCAR has increased the number of timing zones on pit road this weekend at Pocono Raceway.

Last week, NASCAR had 12 timing zones at Indianapolis Motor Speedway — an average of one timing zone about every three pit stalls. Four drivers were penalized for speeding at Indy: Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart and Jamie McMurray.

This weekend, NASCAR will have 18 timing zones at Pocono — an average of one timing zone about every two pit stalls.

NASCAR increased the number of timing zones after questions were raised when Martin Truex Jr. was penalized earlier this month at Kentucky for passing leader Kevin Harvick on the left. Truex accelerated after crossing the last timing line before his pit stall and passed Harvick. To prevent similar occurrences, NASCAR added timing zones at New Hampshire Motor Speedway as an experiment and put all the additional timing zones in play for the first time last weekend at Indianapolis.

Here is the pit road chart at Pocono with all the timing zones:

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Here is what Aric Almirola said about the additional timing zones:

“It forces us to be a lot more mindful of our tach.  You have to realize and something I think a lot of people don’t understand and don’t realize is that our dash is mounted low in the race cars, so when we’re going down pit road we have to look down at our dash to make sure that we’re keeping our pit road speed at an optimal speed.

“We want to go fast enough to make time on pit road. You don’t want to go too slow because then you give up time to your competitors, and if you go just 100 RPM too fast, you’re speeding and then you get a penalty. So we’re really focused and concentrating on looking down at our dash and not really looking up at all until our spotters and crew chiefs tell us we’re five (pit stalls) away or 10 away, and then you kind of look up but at the same time make sure you’re maintaining a pit road speed.

“Before, with the timing lines being so far apart, you kind of had some leeway to where if you are supposed to be running one red light and you happen to flash two or three red lights, which would be speeding, you had an opportunity to kind of slow back down and slow back down to a few green lights and get the time between those segments back to where you wouldn’t be speeding. Now, with the timing lines closer together, if you just get a little bit greedy or you look up to see where your pit stall is at and you creep up your RPMs a little bit, you’re going to get a speeding penalty.

“I’ve long been a proponent for some sort of mechanism that we can have in the car that just causes us to go pit road speed. If they’re that worried about us getting an advantage between timing lines and things like that, why don’t they just make us all go pit road speed like every other form of racing has. I think it would be safer. I think it would give us the opportunity to actually look out of our windshields because, like I said, every driver coming down pit road – that’s why you see it a lot, if somebody checks up to get in their pit box you, you see cars stack up on pit road. We all are looking down at our dash. It’s like texting and driving.

“While we’re looking down, out of our peripheral vision we kind of have an idea of what’s going on, but you’re not as focused as what’s going on outside the windshield as you are at your dash.”

Coca-Cola 600 resumes after rain delay

Coca-Cola 600
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The Coca-Cola 600 is back under way following a rain delay.

The caution was issued on Lap 49 for rain and the field was brought to pit road. The red flag was issued at 7:07 p.m. ET and lifted at 8:16 p.m. ET.

The top five at the time of the stoppage was Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott, Tyler Reddick and Joey Logano.

Check back for updates.

 

Denny Hamlin team faces potential penalty after ballast falls off car

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Denny Hamlin was involved in an incident even before Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 got underway that could result in a hefty penalty.

A chunk of tungsten ballast — which teams use to bring Cup cars up to minimum weight standards — fell off Hamlin’s car on a parade lap.

The incident puts Hamlin’s crew chief Chris Gabehart and several others on the team in violation of the NASCAR rule book, which means a hefty penalty could be in the offing.

According to the NASCAR rule book, the penalty is 12.5.2.7.4.d: Minimum safety penalty options — “Loss or separation of added ballast from the vehicle will result in a four Race suspension of the crew chief, car chief, and head engineer. If NASCAR cannot identify which series or vehicle the lost ballast originated from, all vehicles entered for that Event from and associated with the team organization identified on the lost ballast may receive the suspensions.”

If NASCAR implements the potential penalty, Gabehart and others could miss the following four races: May 27 at Charlotte, May 31 at Bristol, June 7 at Atlanta and June 10 at Martinsville.

Several of those tracks are good for Hamlin, including winning the Bristol summer night race last year, as well as was fourth at the Martinsville playoff race last fall and 11th at Atlanta.

NASCAR ordered Hamlin back to pit road where the No. 11 crew added a new chunk of ballast to Hamlin’s car. He returned to the race eight laps down.

Here’s what a fabricator from rival team Stewart-Haas Racing tweeted about the incident:

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Coca-Cola 600 starting lineup

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Chevrolet drivers swept the top three rows for tonight’s Coca-Cola 600, led by Kurt Busch‘s pole-winning lap of 181.269 mph.

Jimmie Johnson was next with a lap of 181.214 mph. He was followed by Chase Elliott (181.002 mph), Matt Kenseth (180.923), rookie Tyler Reddick (180.905) and Austin Dillon (180.741).

Ford driver Joey Logano, who starts seventh after a lap of 180.451 mph, was the top qualifier not driving a Chevrolet.

TO THE REAR: Matt DiBenedetto (backup car), Brad Keselowski (unapproved adjustment), Aric Almirola (unapproved adjustment), JJ Yeley (unapproved adjustment) and Timmy Hill (unapproved adjustment)

Click here for Coca-Cola 600 starting lineup

Kurt Busch on pole for Coca-Cola 600

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Kurt Busch will lead the field to the green flag for tonight’s Coca-Cola 600 after claiming the pole Sunday afternoon at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

It is Busch’s 28th career pole and first at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Busch is joined on the front row by Jimmie Johnson. Chase Elliott qualified third and is followed by Matt Kenseth and rookie Tyler Reddick. Austin Dillon was sixth, as Chevrolet drivers took the top six spots.

Click here for qualifying results

Aric Almirola spun coming to take the green flag to begin his qualifying lap. He grazed the wall with his rear bumper.

Matt DiBenedetto slapped the wall off Turn 4 during his qualifying lap and will go to a backup car and start at the rear of the field.