Continued from page 1

Gordon, who had a strong car at Dover, said the entire organization is fueled with momentum entering Pocono.

“I think we’ve really gotten our act together,” he said. “We didn’t start the season on top of our game, but, in great fashion for Hendrick Motorsports, everybody has been working really hard … to try and find a little bit more speed and grip in the cars.”

Gordon won Pocono’s June race last year and shares the track record with five career victories. He finished in the top 10 in six of the last seven Pocono races.

Gordon is winless through 13 races this season after taking the checkered flag three times last year.

“It’s a great accomplishment, and as it’s gotten less and less over the years, it means even that much more,” he said. “You realize just how hard it really is to accomplish.”

___

OT IN POCONO: It’s overtime in Pocono.

Drivers had reason to celebrate when Pocono shaved 100 miles off its Cup race. It was short-lived when they learned they’d have to spend two extra days in the mountains for testing because of a track repave. NASCAR hit Pocono for testing Wednesday and Thursday and that caused some grumbling in the garage.

Outside of Daytona, teams are rarely sequestered at one track for five days.

“I’d be more concerned about my team if we were in (Las) Vegas for five days more than Pocono,” former Cup champion Matt Kenseth said, laughing. “I don’t know what they’re going to do here. Hike themselves to death? I’m not too worried about these guys. There’s not a lot going on.”

_____

SHORTER RACE: For decades, the first question drivers had to answer at Pocono was: “Should this race be 400 miles?”

At last, it will be.

Pocono Raceway CEO Brandon Igdalsky said it was a mutual decision among the track, NASCAR and TV partners _ along with input from fans _ to slice the race from a tedious 500 miles to 400 on the 2 1/2-mile triangle track.

Pocono founder Joseph “Doc” Mattioli was long a staunch defender of the supersized race. The decision to switch didn’t necessarily go down easy with Mattioli.

Story Continues →