Notes: Johnson notes chaos, posts fifth
Sunday, Jun. 06, 2010
LONG POND, Pa. – What might pass for a slump for four-time defending series champion Jimmie Johnson came to an end at the Tricky Triangle.
Johnson finished fifth Sunday, snapping a streak four-race streak of finish out of the top 10. He was 16th previous week at Dover.
After getting as high as second in his No. 48 Chevy, Johnson said he end-of-race flurry of caution flags and accidents made him cautious coming out of restarts.
"It wasn't much fun at all to be honest with you," he said about the closing laps. "There's so much to lose and so much chaos on the track."
BODINE'S DAY: Geoff Bodine wasn't on the track long for his first Sprint Cup race in six years.
The 1986 winner of the Daytona 500 was out of his race suit, showered and headed out of the trailer about 45 minutes after the green flag dropped on the rain-delayed Pocono 500. The bright yellow No. 36 Chevy was being loaded on to the Tommy Baldwin Racing team trailer after 23 laps while most of the rest of the 43-car field was circling the Tricky Triangle.
Bodine, 61, had hoped to make a much bigger splash — a win at Long Pond would have been made him the oldest driver to win a NASCAR cup race. The distinction is held by Harry Gant, who was 52 when he won at Michigan in 1992.
But Bodine's team was short on resources without a sponsor. Bodine said he raced longer than expected "but I wasn't complaining."
This was a one-race deal for Bodine, though he does want to stay with Baldwin's team.
"It's no fun," he said about Sunday's start-and-park strategy. "But I'm doing it for a reason ... If you don't come here, if you're not visible, you'll never get that sponsorship, that will never happen."
So the weekend in part was intended to rub elbows and chat up potential sponsors.
"A lot of people saw that this elder statesman could still drive, qualify the cars and race OK. All of that is a positive ... Hopefully, we'll get a call."
Bodine, who overcame a fiery crash in a Trucks Series race in 2000, hasn't run a full Cup schedule since 1999.
RED BULLISH: The crew chief swap for Red Bull Racing had mixed results for team drivers Scott Speed and Casey Mears.
Speed finished 20th in the No. 82 Toyota. Mears ended Sunday in 23rd place, but spun off the track after Mears' car touched Elliott Sadler's care on a restart on lap 159.
Mears has been filling for Brian Vickers in the No. 83 Toyota with Vickers undergoing treatment for blood clots.
The swap of crew chiefs and key team members came a week after Mears and Speed finished 29th and 30th in Charlotte. The move reunited Mears with crew chief Jimmy Elledge, a pair that worked together at Chip Ganassi Racing.
'SAFER' WALLS: Pocono Raceway will install SAFER barriers along the inside wall between turns 1 and 2 and down the "Long Pond" stretch in time for the 2011 races at the massive 2.5-mile oval.
The barriers, a combination of steel and foam, will replace the current guard rail system. SAFER barriers are currently in place at each of NASCAR's oval tracks and are also being installed on the road course at Watkins Glen.