SRT Motorsports - Weekend Motorsports Recap - June 10

  • Keselowski Finishes 18th at Pocono; Mishap Ends Allmendinger’s Day Early
  • Pastrana Finds Plenty of Trouble In Rallycross Event at Texas Motor Speedway
  • Kligerman Claims Fourth Top-10 Finish In Last Five Races; Finishes 10th at Texas
Most of the Sprint Cup drivers spent Wednesday and Thursday testing on the new pavement at Pocono Raceway in preparation for Sunday’s 400-mile race. Unfortunately, they failed to uncover the fact changes at the 2.5-mile, triangular-shaped track weren’t limited to new pavement. Included in the project were changes in the timing and scoring lines on pit road. That proved to be a major issue Sunday as drivers were cited for speeding 22 times among the 40 penalties assessed during the 160-lap event.

The Dodge Boys weren’t exempt from the list of violators that included half the drivers currently in the top 10 in the season point standings. Brad Keselowski was cited twice. Teammate A.J. Allmendinger was nabbed twice in the first eight laps as the team tried to make repairs after the No. 22 was caught up in a mishap on the first lap.

Keselowski rallied from a lap down as a result of the two speeding penalties plus a few mechanical issues to post a respectable 18th-place finish in the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger.

“There was one section where the majority was getting caught,” said Keselowski. “It was obvious that the section had some kind of issue because I know both times I got busted, I was under the limit with my tools that I have available. I was consistent down pit road, so if I was speeding in that sector, I would have been speeding in the others but it didn’t show that. I think there’s plenty of evidence to show that there is something wrong with the section timing whether they’re looking at who got busted or what I just said there. I’m sure that NASCAR will come back and look at it. Hopefully, we’ll have it fixed when we come back here in the fall.”

The gritty performance by Keselowski and his Penske Racing team allowed the driver of the No. 2 Dodge to move up to 10th in the season standings 97 points behind leader Matt Kenseth and 17 behind ninth-place Clint Bowyer. He has a three point edge over 11th-place Carl Edwards.

“I think our Dodge was actually really solid, maybe not a race-winning car but certainly a top 10-, top-five car,” he said. “My team did a great job through all the adversity with the pit road stuff with the timing lines. We got caught twice on that. I’m not sure what was
going on there, so we’ll try and figure that out. Then we had some problems with the ignition and had to work on that. I don’t think we got it fixed but we got the car drivable. And at the very end, we lost brakes. It was just one fight after another.”

Allmendinger experienced one of the most frustrating days of his 2012 season. His problems started on the first lap when Landon Cassill spun in Turn 3 and came across the track, collecting Allmendinger and Martin Truex Jr. That incident set into motion the penalties for the driver of the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger.

That dropped Allmendinger a lap down but he also made up the lost distance thanks to the second caution of the day on lap 15. Once back on the lead lap, Allmendinger hovered around 20th-place while crew chief Todd Gordon and his crew made adjustments on the No. 22 Dodge. But any chance for a good finish ended when he made heavy contact with the retaining wall in Turn 2 on Lap 65. He finished 31st.

“That might be one of the hardest hits I’ve had,” said Allmendinger. “Everybody at NASCAR, everybody at Penske, they do a good job with safety so I’m okay. I’ll be a little sore tomorrow but I’ll be fine. I’m not sure what happened. I think we blew a right-front. After we got in that accident at the start of the race, I think we had something knocked off just a little bit in the right-front.”

The accident at Pocono continued Allmendinger’s season of misfortune and bad luck, leaving the driver shaking his head in disbelief but he vowed to keep working hard to rebound.

“In my worst nightmare, I didn’t think the season would go this bad,” said Allmendinger. “You’ve got two options: you quit or you keep working harder. I’ve been six years in this. I’ve experienced bad stuff before in NASCAR, so I ain’t going to quit. We’ll just keep working harder. We’ve got to figure out how to turn it around.”

Joey Logano passed Mark Martin with four laps remaining to win the Pocono 400. There were 21 lead changes among 10 drivers. The race was slowed by seven cautions for 35 laps.

Travis Pastrana won’t soon forget his most recent visit to the Long Star State. More specifically, Texas Motor Speedway. The site of the second Rallycross event of the season for the series, Pastrana and the Pastrana 199 Racing team had great expectations for the weekend and Saturday afternoon’s event. So much so, the team had not one, but two Dodge Darts entered in the event with Felipe Albuquerque driving the second Dart.

No question, the Dodge Darts were fast. The issue was the seven-turn course and specifically, one of the jumps. Pastrana’s troubles started early in Friday morning’s practice session when the No. 199 Dodge Dart received significant front-end damage during the first lap of practice after over-shooting the 80-foot, gap-jump ramp. The mishap forced Pastrana to climb aboard the Dart that Albuquerque was scheduled to drive. Meanwhile, the No. 199 crew worked late into the night to repair the damage.

Pastrana’s primary car was repaired and ready for competition on Saturday afternoon, but the disappointment would continue. The first setback came in his heat race. He finished third, just missing a transfer position to the feature. That forced him in the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ).

“We just missed it a bit in the heat race and when you have to run in the LCQ, you almost have to be perfect,” said Pastrana. “The key was to get the start that we needed against Ken (Block) and I got the jump on him heading into the first turn. That put us in great position until I overdrove the hairpin and looped the car. It’s so hard to pass here and I just wasn’t able to run the three laps I needed in the LCQ. Our Red Bull/Discount Tire Dodge was fast all weekend. We just had some gremlins.”

It was a similar story for Albuquerque. He was only able to make four circuits around the course in practice, all while adapting to his new Dodge. Albuquerque placed third in his heat after skidding through the car wash section which cost him one position. In his LCQ, the No. 99 Dodge broke seconds from the start when a clutch issue became apparent. After racing through the chicane section, Albuquerque was approaching the 80-foot jump but pulled off course when his Dodge was unable to carry the speed necessary to complete the jump. He finished fourth.

“I lost the clutch completely in the LCQ and that ended the day for me,” said Albuquerque. “I think that’s why I had such a poor start. I was so keen to get a great start and when I got off the rev limiter, there was no wheel spin. The car wasn’t going like it should. I was stuck in second gear the entire time, but when I started to accelerate toward the big jump I wasn’t carrying enough speed and just had to pull off. It’s a shame. Our Dodge Dart was really fast.”

While the results in the first two Rallycross events isn’t what Pastrana and his team had expected, there’s no question in anyone’s mind about the speed and performance of the Dodge Dart racecar. “These Dodge Darts are fast,” said team manager Blair Stopnik. “We set fast lap times. We know that they work. But they’re also brand new and we’ve got some teething issues. Travis is a hell of a driver. Felipe was great all weekend. It’s a new car. It’s a new series. We’re just learning event by event. The cars are certainly faster than our results have shown. We’ll be better.”

Marcus Gronholm won his second consecutive Main Event with Tanner Faust second.

Parker Kligerman scored his fourth top-10 finish in the last five races with a 10th-place finish in Friday night’s event at Texas Motor Speedway. He has finished 11th or better in all seven races this season. An 8.9 average finish has the driver fifth in the season standings, only 25 points behind the leader.

Kligerman started fifth in the No. 29 Reese Towpower RAM (the field was set by owner points after qualifying was cancelled due to heavy rains in the Fort Worth area Thursday night. Limited practice and a finicky RAM underneath him, Kligerman’s night was “frustrating” and “disappointing.”

“It’s a rare time that our Reese Towpower RAM team misses it and tonight was one of those nights,” said Kligerman. “We showed up with a brand new truck and we weren’t able to figure it out. It’s disappointing because we ran runner-up here last spring and tonight we just missed.”

The runner-up at last year’s spring event at Texas tried his best to “steal a top-five” in the 167-lap event.

“I didn’t think that I had a truck that could win but I was hoping to sneak into the top-five and steal one here tonight,” he said. “We just stalled and could never move any forward. We just missed it."

It was a bit of “new truck blues” for crew chief Doug Randolph and the Brad Keselowski Racing team.

“We just didn’t have the piece that we needed when we got here,” said Randolph. “It’s a new truck that hasn’t been to the wind tunnel. We were hoping that it was as good as or better than what we’ve had. It wasn’t. We just sort of fought that and it’s really tough when you’d like to do better. We knew that we weren’t going to fix (it) on pit road tonight.”

Johnny Sauter was the race winner, leading twice for 55 laps. The series returns for action in three weeks at Kentucky Speedway.

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