6/11/2012 10:54:32 AM
Race officials issued 22 penalties for driving too fast while entering or
exiting pit road. Eighteen of them occurred within the first 70 laps of the
Travis Kvapil was caught speeding four times, while David Reutimann, who drove
the No. 51 car in place of the suspended Kurt Busch, received a penalty on
three separate occasions. A.J. Allmendinger, Jimmie Johnson and Brad
Keselowski were busted twice each.
Johnson received his first penalty during a round of green-flag pit stops on
lap 42. The five-time Sprint Cup Series champion was nailed again on the
following lap when he served his pass-through penalty. Johnson rebounded from a
one-lap deficit in the early going to finish fourth. He was convinced NASCAR
had a glitch in its timing loop for the 11th and final segment in the pits.
"There is something wrong with the timing loop, and the orange line and the
way the drivers interact with that," Johnson said. "Normally, when we hit the
orange line, we go, and I did that the first time we got nailed. The second
time I waited until the tail was over and got nailed. We'll look into it and
see what happened. But either way, we still came back. We had a very fast race
car, and I had a shot at the win."
But NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton disagreed with
"There's nothing wrong with the loops," he said.
For each sanctioned racetrack, NASCAR monitors speeds from the yellow line at
the entrance of pit road to the yellow line at the exit. The timing loop in
the pits is divided into segments. How many segments depends on the size of
The pit road area at Pocono was lengthened during its new pavement process
within the past 10 months. Therefore, the number of segments increased from 10
to 11, with the last section expanded from 56 feet to 83.
"Our position is like it's always been - yellow line to yellow line,"
Pemberton exclaimed. "This track has gone under a lot of reconfiguration since
last year. It's all brand-new pit road and all brand-new loops. Positions have
been changed since last year. Sections are smaller than they were last year
throughout pit road, and actually, the last section is a little bit bigger.
"The bottom line is, every week when we go into a racetrack, there's maps that
are printed for the crew chiefs to come get. Some choose to get them, some
choose to measure their own lines and some go off of last year's
The pit road speed limit at Pocono is 55 mph, but NASCAR does have a tolerance
of up to 5 mph more than the limit. NASCAR handed out penalties to anyone who
drove faster than 60 mph.
By the time this race had reached its halfway point, most drivers and crew
chiefs figured it was best to drive on pit road slower than normal. Dale
Earnhardt Jr. was one those drivers who played it safe during his pit stops.
"(Crew chief) Steve (Letarte) just told me about them and just said to be
careful," Earnhardt Jr. noted after his eighth-place finish. "So I was extra
careful. I was probably ridiculously slow coming onto pit road. But I just
don't want to get popped.
"I get burned on TV and by the fan base whenever we do anything stupid on pit
road, such as miss our stall or something. It takes me about a year and a half
to get over that in a lot of people's eyes."
When the series returns to Pocono the first weekend in August, it's likely
we'll see a lot less speeding penalties because teams are more in the loop now.