Race Weekend Central

The Big 6: Questions Answered After the Pennsylvania 400

Who… gets my shoutout of the race?

Repeat after me: there are no cheap wins in NASCAR.  A top finish is hard to come by, no matter what the circumstances.  The great thing about racing is that it’s about more than just a fast car—it’s about strategy and making things work under the rules.  Chris Buescher’s win is worth no more or no less than any other in NASCAR, and neither was the third-place run of Regan Smith.  Smith has been successful driving for small teams; his win at Darlington with Furniture Row Racing came at a different time. Back in 2011, FRR was at the bottom of the sport’s ladder, looking up at the elite status they enjoy today.  Smith’s finish didn’t get the press that Buescher’s did but it’s a big deal for Tommy Baldwin Racing.  It’s TBR’s second top-5 finish ever (first on a non-restrictor-plate track) and ties the organization’s all-time best finish (Dave Blaney ran third at Talladega in the fall 2012 race).  Smith also had the top-finishing Chevrolet. Sometimes, gambling on strategy pays off big.

Finally, props to Kurt Busch, who set a NASCAR record Monday, completing every lap pf all 21 races so far this season. That kind of consistency will be worth keeping an eye on in the Chase.

What… is the takeaway from this race?

(Photo: Logan Whitton/NKP)
The weekend definitely didn’t go as expected for Martin Truex, Jr. (Photo: Logan Whitton/NKP)

Filling in for another driver, no matter how good the equipment is, can be much more difficult than most people realize. Given the past success of both Jeff Gordon and the No. 88 team, it would be easy to assume that a great finish was just a matter of dotting the Is and crossing the Ts.  But it’s far from that simple. Cars vary widely from driver to driver.  Some (like Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) prefer one that will handle on the loose side all day while others (like Gordon) would rather deal with a tighter setup.  Each car is like a custom-tailored suit for its regular driver, and that suit isn’t going to be a perfect fit for anyone else.  Teams prepare cars weeks in advance, meaning the Pocono chassis was built to Earnhardt’s preferences, not Gordon’s.  The team worked on adapting the setup to Gordon’s style in practice, but there was another handicap as well: the 2016 low-downforce package.  Gordon, who retired from full-time competition after the 2015 season, hasn’t driven these cars prior to Indianapolis last week.  Add in the speeding penalty Gordon incurred on pit road, and the team had a long row to hoe for a top finish they didn’t get (27th).

Where…did the pole sitter and the defending race winner wind up?

Martin Truex, Jr. brought that car…you know, the one he absolutely dominated the Coca-Cola 600 with in May? Yeah, he did, giving us a brief reminder on the practice and qualifying sheets of just how strong the No. 78 Toyota really is.  Unfortunately, a flat tire on a lap 17 restart, resulting from a sheared valve stem, sent Truex hard into the outside wall.  He did get back on track, only to hit the wall again at lap 100, ending his day early and in 38th place.


Matt Kenseth had a top 10 starting spot to start his defense of the race win, but that was about the highlight of Kenseth’s day.  He did run inside the top 5 for awhile midrace, but by the end, he shuffled out 17th.  Kenseth was far from alone—several top drivers were mired in the teens when the race ended.

When… did it all go sideways?

There were a few crashes throughout the day, including for Chase contenders Chase Elliott, Joey Logano and Martin Truex, Jr. as well as a hard hit for Aric Almirola (he was OK). But the the real wrench in the works was fog.  Lots and lots of fog.  It rolled in with 30 or so laps to go and made itself at home, settling in over Turn 2 and both back straightaways as rainstorms moved closer and closer to the track.  NASCAR finally made the call when lightning and severe weather warnings were issued, cutting the race short 22 laps shy of the scheduled distance.  It was absolutely the right call—a fan was killed at Pocono a few years ago by lightning and the safety of the fans and race teams was paramount.  It was certainly strange to see the race called when the track was raceable, but when spotters can’t see their drivers, safe racing isn’t possible.  Racing in the fog is best left to those with just one horsepower.

Why… did Chris Buescher win the race?

Buescher won the race for one simple reason: his team played the best strategy on the day.  Would he have won if the race had resumed? Probably not, but it didn’t, so there’s no point in asking that question.  Buescher’s win was as legit as they come, though there were a few rumblings on social media that NASCAR waited a long time to call the race, even after the raceway issued severe weather alerts and urged fans to take shelter. Would Buescher’s inclusion in the Chase put a bigger name out?  Yes, it probably would. And don’t forget, Buescher isn’t in yet; he still has to gain a few points and get in the top 30.  With teammate Landon Cassill in 29th, the conspiracy theories were already cropping up on Twitter post-race. But here’s the thing: that big name has had the exact same opportunities as Buescher to capitalize and win a race this season.  If they can’t do that, Buescher deserves the spot under NASCAR’s current Chase rules.

How… many drivers got slapped with pit penalties, anyway?

It certainly seemed that every time the cars hit pit road, someone was slapped with a penalty.  Perhaps it was just because there were some big names involved, because there have certainly been longer penalty reports to come from NASCAR after some races this year.  All in all, there were 15 drivers penalized for something.  A few of those were pitting too early after an accident, which is unavoidable.  Speeding tickets were handed out left and right, though, after NASCAR added scoring lines and shortened speed zones to keep teams from speeding through the zone with their pit box, where the pit stop makes the average speed much lower.  There were eight speeding penalties Monday, including one for race winner Buescher. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. was nabbed twice.  Other than those, though, it was a pretty average race in terms of teams getting caught in the pits.

About the author

Amy is an 20-year veteran NASCAR writer and a six-time National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) writing award winner, including first place awards for both columns and race coverage. As well as serving as Photo Editor, Amy writes The Big 6 (Mondays) after every NASCAR Cup Series race. She can also be found working on her bi-weekly columns Holding A Pretty Wheel (Tuesdays) and Only Yesterday (Wednesdays). A New Hampshire native whose heart is in North Carolina, Amy’s work credits have extended everywhere from driver Kenny Wallace’s website to Athlon Sports. She can also be heard weekly as a panelist on the Hard Left Turn podcast that can be found on AccessWDUN.com's Around the Track page.

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Where does it always go sideways? In reporting!!!! The bias….is where it goes sideways. Hey racing is racing however, Logano did have the most laps lead obviously would have had more, possibly the win, but you got Chase Ellliott the darling of the HMS group right now driving over his head and crickets, not a word about his fluck up and his alone screwup. But it is a Chebbie and it is Dollar Bill’s son so no harm no foul, move along nothing to talk about. The hypocrisy astounds when Logano at any point in his career did as the anointed one Chase has done (as they all have) Jesus Christ, the narrative would have been a damn witch hunt. And Logano heading off any faux narrative “did not whine”, and mature about it.


Awwwww, poor widdle joey got wecked. Guess it’s only fitting after how many times in the past month or so that joey took someone out. Was HE driving over his head then? BTW, for reference since you probably are too dense or don’t want to remember, just go back to Sonoma and Daytona for starters. That was two races in a row. Now you can “fluck” off.


You know, Spotty, you really are a repulsive jerk! Why don’t you follow your own advice and get lost!


Ohhhhh, someone opened a up another account to bitch even more. Your hypocrisy is what’s repulsive. I do not see how anyone could stand to be around you or even how you could be around yourself. What a miserable existence you must share……………………

Carl D.

You left out “I know you are but what am I?”

The lengths people will go to whine about meaningless crap….

Big J

Rufus, this is coming from a long time reader on this website and first time (and most likely the only time) but why are you so bent up about a reply? Like I said, I have been reading this board for a while now and this spot character is basically right on about the kb character. This spot maybe is a little rough with the wording but he is right, I haven’t seen a positive response from kb yet. Everything is complain, complain and complain. This is obviously a Joey Logano fan, too, and to this character, Logano can do no wrong but now this one is way mad at Chase Elliot. Even comes up with a different stupid name for him. If you can’t see the double standard here, maybe you need help. Now, my rant for my one and only post is done, you can go about blasting me.


Spotty and the other nasty poster that has a butt hurt for me, please try and do a better job of creating a “long time reader” that must set the record straight about that horrible KB. LOL!!!!! The prose of which SPOTTY AND HIS OTHER NAME post under and now BIG JERK, a moron can deduce you are all one in the same, with zero effort! It was fairly obvious that you have your “nice poster” prone to fits against me and then the really NASTY one throwing fits against me. Now we have that same brain trying to validate and justify “their” insanity regarding my posts via BIG J. You cannot make this stuff, keep trying it ain’t working. And then again, isn’t this site about racing and not your ineptitude and frustration to understand what I am saying. So sad. Get a life. Good God Pathetic.


Oh and nice touch SPOTTY and you know who you HMS lover. You played stupid as to me calling “Clyde” as it was a bad name. You know damn well you obsessed moron that it is his birth name. Stop. You are a bad liar. You suck. LOL


..As usual SPOTTY is foaming at the mouth like his usual rabid self and does not read completely or understand the true meaning of “my rant”. I will not dissect or defend for you, as it is beyond your grasp. I say your schooling has failed you, as well as your EI. My opinion of course…

Now on to the serious stuff…..your health…..

GOOD GOD SPOTTY!!!!! LOL!!!!!!! I hope you sought medical help at your nearest mental health facility. Sounds seriously dangerous! Sorry you don’t agree with what I say, it doesn’t matter to me in the least, but it seems to matter to you and yours hugely, Why?

As for me being RUFUS, not a chance. Rufus see’s you as unstable also it seems. THANK YOU RUFUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHO EVER YOU ARE! Somebody with a brain obviously. Nope whether you pop a blood vessel or not I will continue to post as KB, and I am not responsible for your tirads or actions, you are. Hopefully you all can get some help when the keywords “Jeff Gordon” Clyde Elliot” “HMS” is mentioned in a non fawning manner! Palov on display big time.



Yup, just go on another sickening rant instead of answering the question. What a sick **** you are! Don’t know your marital status and don’t want to but I pity anyone who is related to you in anyway. You are a sick piece of human trash.


Lol…Meds Scotty Meds!!!!!!!


Sorry didn’t mean to insult you as Scotty I was looking at your stupid rant and I thought “somebody needs to beam him up Scotty”. lollollollolol. He might be happy in space away from my posts…lollolollollololol


I just notieced you said there was a question? WHERE with all that sick nastiness, where??? And why would I answer you? Sicko, we could be in the same parking lot looking at the Sun and I would say “ohhh that sun is hot” and you would come on here and say I said it was cloudy. lol.


Eight replies by you for your sick rants and you call me Sicko?!? You are certifiably psychotic. You seriously need to be institutionalized and that’s now! What a crazed crackhead you are! Like Bill B says, you are not worth anything and I wish there was a way to block you on this website. It’s just too bad everyone here has to keep reading the rambling obsessed rants of a crazy biotch.
BTW, if I was also posting under Big J, you’d know it. But I guess wit your crazed mind, you don’t see anything real straight.


Waiting any moment for Bill France to declare that winning a shortened race does not qualify you for the cough-cough “playoffs”.

Pearson Fan

You’re going to be waiting a while to hear from Bill France


I think it’s a hoot that there are so many “fans” poo-pooing Buescher’s win, calling it a gross miscarriage of justice. NASCAR was desperate to get the race going to the conclusion, but Mother Nature had other ideas. Heck, the race was only 22-laps short.

As for Buescher, every other crew chief there yesterday could have made the same decision Bob Osborne made, and had their driver stay out. This was one for the little guy snookering the big boys! And does anyone remember what David Ragan had on the hood of his car in the all star race, which he qualified for when he put the 34 in victory lane at Talladega a week or two before? “Beats Goliath, Breaks For Trains” Yesterday, the 34 team beat Goliath again! Good for them!

Personally, I hope Buescher gets into the top 30 and stays there until Richmond. Then I hope he beats the odds and makes it to the final four! I hope it’s an all ford final four, but that won’t happen, as NASCAR wouldn’t allow it. But, if it did happen, and Buescher pulled off the miracle of the century, it would anger a lot of fans, and make Brian wet himself. Besides, would him winning the Championship be any less legitimate than someone “winning” it after missing eleven races? Then, just maybe, this chase crap will be dropped like a hot potato!


How did Stewart get his win? Very convenient caution flag.

Bill B

Dream on dude. I’d love to see him make the final four and win it all too (just to prove how idiotic the chase and those stupid elimination rounds are) but it ain’t gonna happen. I do believe he will make the top 30 even if it means Casill sits out a couple of races but the only way he makes it past the first round is if 3 other chase drivers DNF in two of the three races.

Also, I can’t see the David and Goliath analogy. He didn’t beat the big guys, he hit the lottery. Good for him though.


Bill B, you seem to have been effected by the “Spot1 disease”! Please re-read what I wrote. I said I hoped that Buescher crashes the chase show. I know full well if he did, he would be out after that first round. In fact, you can bet all the Fords will be out after round 1, and it will be an all-Toyota/all-Gibbs final.

And about your nasty remark about the David vs Goliath analogy, Front Row Motorsports is a small organization. It in no way has the resources that Gibbs, Hendrick, and Penske has. As for calling his win “hitting the lottery”, if you want to cheapen it that way, go ahead. Bob Osborne played the game perfectly. As I said, and you obviously didn’t read, every other crew chief could have had their driver stay out. They didn’t.

So, tell me, why can’t you give the 34 team credit?


Wait a minute, what is this “Spot1 disease”? BTW, I will give give Buescher and his team all the credit in the world. You have to do what you think will win for you and they did it. All the props in the world to them.

Now, maybe I shouldn’t do this but, oh kb, this is what you call a positive posting. One that actually speaks good of something here. Maybe you should learn what that is.

Bill B

Wow, sorry. I didn’t think my comment was that confrontational.

My definition of beating someone is to actually beat them by being better and faster, out doing them at every measurable level. While a win is a win, I didn’t feel he outperformed any of the big guys. David killed Goliath, thoroughly defeating him. I didn’t feel that happened Monday. More like David threw dirt in Goliath’s eye and while Goliath was stumbling around unable to see he fell off a cliff.


Oh and nice touch SPOTTY and you know who you HMS lover. You played stupid as to me calling “Clyde” as it was a bad name. You know damn well you obsessed moron that it is his birth name. Stop. You are a bad liar. You suck. LOL


No proof, but I am pretty sure Bill B, Spotty and Big J, are the same person. It seems to me Bill B likes to keep some civility with me regarding my posts, then he cracked but did not want to go full on Spotty. Bill still has a “normal” presence on this site and he seems not to want the jeopardize his opinions regarding racing, and I can understand that with people he interacts with….so IMO he created Spotty that shows his true colors towards whomever, really me. If you noticed the verbiage and how it seems they were twins in this and that, one can think they are one in the same, but again no proof. No do I care if they are. I find the whole thing funny, a brief diversion from life and it’s stuff. Now we have Big Jerk “backing” up the foul Spotty and was a silent witness to the horrors of KB all these years. Too funny, not to take it too seriously, but somebody sure does, and if I am wrong I am wrong. Just find it really sad…….

Bill B

Give me a break kb. I post only under Bill B and have no other aliases. There is no way for me to prove that but it’s the truth. So you can believe what you want to believe but you aren’t worth that much effort and I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t really care what you think and try to just ignore your posts.

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