Pocono Raceway

Penalty report from Pocono Raceway

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NASCAR has issued fines to five crew chiefs for unsecured lug nuts during the race weekend at Pocono Raceway.

Cup

NASCAR fined four crew chiefs $10,000 each for having one unsecured lug nut on their cars following the two Cup races.

Scott Graves (Ryan Newman‘s No. 6 Ford) and John Klausmeier (Clint Bowyer‘s No. 14 Ford) were fined for unsecured lug nuts after Saturday’s race.

James Small (Martin Truex Jr.‘s No. 19 Toyota) and Rodney Childers (Kevin Harvick‘s No. 4 Ford) were fined for unsecured lug nuts after Sunday’s race.

Truck Series

Danny Stockman, crew chief on Brandon Jones‘ No. 51 Chevrolet, was fined $2,500 for an unsecured lug nut after Saturday’s race. Jones was the race winner.

Pocono Raceway co-founder Dr. Rose Mattioli dies at 92

Pocono Raceway/Mattioli Family
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Dr. Rose Mattioli, who along with late husband Dr. Joseph Mattioli co-founded Pocono Raceway in 1968, died Monday at 92, according to a track media release.

Known as “Dr. Rose,” Mrs. Mattioli was the matriarch of the family that still owns and operates the racetrack today. The track held five races, including two NASCAR Cup races, this past weekend.

A statement from both the Mattioli and Igdalsky families read:

“Dr. Rose was the heart and soul of Pocono Raceway for over 50 years. She would often tell us, ‘I love Pocono and auto racing more than Doc,’ and we believed her. While Doc moved the mountains, Rose moved your spirit. Dr. Rose’s contributions to motorsports and her philanthropic efforts will always live in a class of their own.

“She played a vital role in allowing women into auto racing garage areas during an era where they were otherwise unwelcome. Additionally, Dr. Rose and Doc gave back to the community, often anonymously and without hesitation. Her passing has motivated us to remain steadfast, now more than ever, to never waiver from Rose and Doc’s commitment of always doing right by our Pocono Raceway family, our fans, our local community and the auto racing industry.

“While we will miss her, we take comfort in knowing Rose and Doc are reunited and that their legacy will live on forever.”

Dr. Rose was preceded in death by her husband Dr. Joseph “Doc” Mattioli, who died on Jan. 26, 2012 at 86.

Mrs. Mattioli is survived by daughters Looie and Michele, son Joseph III, seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. “The Mattioli and Igdalsky families also wish to thank Jessica Rene, Rose’s loving caregiver, for the support and companionship which Dr. Rose dearly cherished,” the track statement noted.

Services for Dr. Rose Mattioli will be held privately. In lieu of flowers, her family asks for donations be sent to any charity of the donors’ choosing. The family also said in a statement, “The entire Pocono Raceway family thanks you for your kind words and outreach.”

Here is more about Mrs. Mattioli from the track release:

“Born and raised in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia, Rose met Joseph Mattioli while attending Temple University in 1947. The couple secretly eloped one year later and ‘officially married,’ in the presence of family and friends, on August 5, 1950.  While celebrating the first birthday of their first child, Looie, and pregnant with their second child, Joseph III, Rose graduated first in her class from Temple University’s School of Podiatric Medicine in June of 1952. They welcomed their third child, Michele, in 1955. That same year, Drs. Joseph and Rose opened their dental and podiatric practices in Northeast Philadelphia.

“In the mid-1960s, Rose and Doc took on a new business venture in Long Pond, Pa. They developed a large acreage of land and helped build Pocono Raceway. The track would host its first major motorsports event in 1971 on the famed 2.5-mile superspeedway, now known as ‘The Tricky Triangle.’ Rose and Doc would eventually move from Philadelphia and make the beautiful Pocono Mountains their home. While neither knew anything about auto racing, in addition to facing multiple financial burdens, their perseverance and drive helped Pocono Raceway succeed through it all. Pocono Raceway has become one of the most picturesque and most beloved motorsports and entertainment venues in the world. Guests who annually visit have always been considered more than spectators or fans – they are considered ‘family.’

“In addition to bringing world-class auto racing and entertainment to their ‘family,’ Dr. Rose and Doc gave back to the Pocono Mountains community and the surrounding Northeast Pennsylvania region. When a local need arose, the Mattioli’s would be among the first to respond and, often anonymously and without media attention. Today, the Mattioli name decorates many buildings and the established Mattioli Foundation funds a bevy of scholarships and charitable organization. This includes organizations such as the American Red Cross, American Cancer Society, Salvation Army, United Way of Monroe County, Lehigh Valley Healthy Network, the Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital, Jimmie Johnson Legacy Scholarship at Monroe Career & Technical Institute and The NASCAR Foundation.

“In honor of the trailblazing efforts, tireless dedication, commitment and passion of Dr. Rose, Pocono Raceway launched their first all-women’s initiative with the creation of the Rose Pedals in 2017. Continuing the Mattioli spirit of community, philanthropy, and service, the Rose Pedals have provided volunteer assistance in areas of need to include Meals on Wheels, Women’s Resource Center, Family Promise of Monroe County and Operation Touch of Home among other agencies and organizations. The Rose Pedals’ future vision includes a mentoring program built on the foundation of service to work toward expanding opportunities for girls and women in the community by providing tools to recognize their power, potential and accomplishments.”

NASCAR Chairman & CEO Jim France and NASCAR Executive Vice Chair Lesa Kennedy issued the following statement: “Our family and all of NASCAR is saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Rose Mattioli. For three generations, the relationship between our families has been more personal than professional. Rose and Doc created a unique racing experience at Pocono Raceway, bringing a passion for race fans and love of racing to everything they touched. On behalf of the France family and the entire motorsports industry, NASCAR extends our deepest condolences to the Mattioli family during this difficult time.”

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Drivers like idea of more NASCAR Cup doubleheaders

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Last weekend’s NASCAR Cup doubleheader at Pocono Raceway drew strong reviews, with several drivers hoping the sanctioning body continues the practice going forward.

Among those was Brad Keselowski, who took to social media and said emphatically, “I loooooovvvee the idea of running twice on a weekend. … Big thumbs up, NASCAR, and everybody else who pulled it off from the teams, track officials and everybody else.

“I think it was a big success. I hope everybody liked it.”

Added Kevin Harvick, who won Saturday’s Cup race and finished second to Denny Hamlin on Sunday: “I think the format was great. … I think overall everybody would be super happy with a much shorter season and multiple doubleheaders. Yeah, I think it went well.”

If there was a downside to the weekend to fully determine just how much of a success it was, it was the lack of fans in the grandstands.

Much like most other tracks that have held NASCAR events since the return from the COVID-19 hiatus, Pocono Raceway did not have fans for the entire weekend, which featured five races over three days: the two Cup races as well as single races for the Xfinity Series, Truck Series and ARCA Menards Series.

While drivers liked the hop-in-and-drive format, with no practice or qualifying, the doubleheader weekend did make things harder on teams in terms of preparation for both races, as well as scrambling to repair damage from Saturday’s race to run the same car Sunday.

NASCAR gave teams additional time in the garage for preparation and setup both before and after Saturday’s race, as well as before Sunday’s race.

“It’s very hard on the race teams,” said Hamlin’s crew chief, Chris Gabehart. “We didn’t leave the racetrack till after 11 (Saturday night). You drive over a half hour to the hotel, got to be back here at 7 (a.m. ET).

“There’s a lot of work that goes on in-between preparing a car that just raced 325 miles to race again for 350 miles, put a professional product on the racetrack.”

But, Gabehart said: “This is very hard, but these teams are the best in the business. Whatever NASCAR wants to do, we’ll support and adapt.”

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Winners and losers after Sunday’s Cup race at Pocono

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WINNERS

Denny Hamlin Solid strategy by Chris Gabehart and a determined drive by Hamlin led to the team’s fourth victory of the season Sunday at Pocono.

Kevin HarvickA day after winning at Pocono, he finished second to expand his points lead.

Erik JonesHe rebounded from finishing 38th Saturday by placing third Sunday.

Stewart-Haas Racing — For the second consecutive race, SHR placed three drivers in the top 10. Kevin Harvick won. Aric Almirola was fifth. Clint Bowyer placed eighth.

Hendrick Motorsports — A day after Chevrolet had no drivers place in the top 10, HMS had three cars finish in the top 10 Sunday. Chase Elliott was fourth. William Byron placed seventh. Alex Bowman finished ninth.

LOSERS

Kyle BuschSlowed by lapped traffic, he was hit by Ryan Blaney and crashed, finishing 38th. Busch remains winless this season.

Tyler ReddickPower steering went out when the green flag waved to start the race. Repairs put him several laps down. That led to a 35th-place finish a day after he placed 30th at Pocono. Reddick entered the weekend holding the 16th and final playoff spot. He exited the weekend 18th in the standings, 26 points out of the final playoff spot.

Christopher Bell A day after finishing fourth at Pocono, he placed 39th after a crash Sunday at Pocono.

Michael McDowell A day after finishing eighth at Pocono, he crashed and finished last Sunday at Pocono.

 

Erik Jones: It’s time for better finishes and future

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Erik Jones doesn’t need to look at a clock to know now is his time.

The Michigan native earned a season-best third-place finish – and his second top-five in the last three starts – in Sunday’s back half of the NASCAR Cup doubleheader weekend at Pocono Raceway.

It couldn’t have come at a better time, as Jones is closing in on the end of a one-year contract extension with Joe Gibbs Racing he signed last year. His future remains uncertain.

“We started talking to them about next year and what we’re going to do moving forward,” Jones said after the race.

“I feel like right now that’s kind of the plan, working with them. We’ll see what happens, but I feel good about it right now moving forward.”

David Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development, said on June 17 that it’s his hope to keep both Jones and Christopher Bell in the manufacturer’s fold.

“We all know that Erik is at the end of his current contract,” Wilson said. “What’s the plan there? We don’t know. We’re working on that. (Car owner Joe Gibbs) and I are talking about that now every week. Our desire obviously is to keep both of those young men in our company. How we do it is yet to be determined.”

Jones’ finish Sunday was a strong rebound after finishing 38th in Saturday’s race due to a wreck.

“We needed a good run, a good rebound,” he said. “It’s great we finished third, but in a way it’s frustrating because I think our primary car (in Saturday’s) race was quite a bit better than our backup car was today, but obviously third is a good run.”

After struggling through much of the season – including seven showings of 20th or worse in the first 14 events – Jones believes he’s turned a corner and sees more promising results ahead.

“It’s nice to rebound and hope we can keep the momentum going next week and keep going strong,” Hamlin said. “It’s nice to run a normal race. I think on a normal weekend we can run top five and I think we showed that today.”

Sunday’s finish – Jones’ sixth top-10 in eight career Cup starts at Pocono – also put Jones back in the top 16 Cup playoff rankings.

“We feel like we definitely should make the playoffs,” said Jones, who entered Sunday six points out of a playoff spot. “We’ve done that the last few years and I don’t see this year as any different.

“Hopefully we can keep moving forward. We’ve got good racetracks coming up for us, places we’ve run well at in the past, I think we’re going to keep racking up some good finishes here and hopefully get a win here pretty soon.

“I think our cars are way faster than a 16th-place team. Hopefully we can keep up the good runs. We just need three-four more races running strong like we need to, get some stage points and we’ll be in the top 12 pretty quickly.

“… It’s not even a question in my mind, making the playoffs or not. I feel we’ll be strong enough here to get a win at a race here in the next month or two.”

Earlier in the day, Jones drew attention for a tweet he posted criticizing over-aggressive driving by many in the field of the Xfinity Series race, which preceded the Cup race.

The most notable example of that was when Justin Haley hooked Riley Herbst on the Pocono straightaway. NASCAR held Haley for two laps on pit road after the incident and met with Haley and crew chief Alex Yontz after the race.

“The Xfinity Series is in kind of a weird spot right now,” Jones said. “There’s a lot of young guys, very talented guys, don’t get me wrong, but definitely some of the guys can click it down a notch.

“I watch it on TV every week and it’s like, man, some of those guys are so fast and some of the things they do just blows your mind. The way I grew up racing, hooking somebody on the straightaway is pretty out there. I don’t think you want to face the repercussions of what would have happened coming into the pits.

“It’s just kind of a lack of respect. I grew up with a lot of respect in racing and respect for my equipment and competitors. I don’t believe in intentionally wrecking people. I think that’s pretty low, low-class and doesn’t belong in our sport. It’s just Saturday night, Mickey Mouse stuff and I don’t like to see it.”

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