TBO.com: Tampa Bay Online, The Tampa Tribune and The Tampa Times - breaking news and weather.
Monday, Sep 01, 2014
Auto Racing

Stewart wins Pocono pole

The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 10:50 AM
LONG POND, Pa. -

Tony Stewart unbuttoned the top button on his racing suit and let out a sigh.

Qualifying for the pole always makes a trip to Pocono Raceway more fun. Stewart zipped his No. 14 Chevy for a qualifying lap Friday of 171.393 mph around the 2.5-mile triangle track to start from the top for Sunday's Pennsylvania 500.

"Man, it felt good," Stewart said. "If you want a place where you want good track position, it's here at Pocono."

Juan Pablo Montoya will start second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race for an impressive follow-up to last week's pole start but disappointing 32nd-place finish at the Brickyard 400.

Denny Hamlin will start third as he tries to sweep both Pocono races. Hamlin won the Pocono 500 in June.

They'll both have to get past Stewart first, who's got a little experience with starting up front at the Tricky Triangle.

Stewart started the June race in sixth place, and finished third. He was awarded the pole at the two Pocono stops in 2009 after rainouts washed out qualifying.

This time, Stewart sped his way to the top. He said he felt good going around the first two turns before thinking he hit a rough spot around Turn 3.

"I felt like I might have lost a little bit of time there, but we got through there pretty good, too apparently. Better than I thought, I guess," Stewart said.

Good enough for his second pole of the season, the first coming at Texas Motor Speedway in April. Ninth in the points race, Stewart hopes to get a boost as the schedule draws closer to the Chase playoffs.

And to think, Stewart considers qualifying a "weak suit."

"The qualifying run for sure, I'm hoping is a glimmer of hope to what the rest of the weekend will hold for us," Stewart said. He's had first-place finishes at Pocono in 2009 and 2003.

Few others have had as much success at Pocono than Hamlin, who has turned the triangle into his personal playground. Besides the June victory, he also won the Pennsylvania 500 last year and both Pocono races in 2006.

Newman, Hamlin say NASCAR fined them

Ryan Newman and Hamlin say they are the drivers fined by NASCAR for making critical comments about the racing series.

Newman refused to disclose on Friday the amount of the fine or what he said. He implied that it was for comments he made after he crashed at Talladega Superspeedway.

Hamlin said he was punished for comments he made on Twitter. He also did not reveal the amount of the fine.

The AP was told this week fines were levied because the comments were considered disparaging to the sport. The AP reported one driver was penalized as much as $50,000.

Gordon's crew chief gets multiyear extension

Hendrick Motorsports has signed Jeff Gordon crew chief Steve Letarte to a multiyear extension.

Letarte has been with Gordon since the end of the 2005 season. Gordon has 10 wins, 14 poles and leads NASCAR in top-five finishes since they teamed up.

The Associated Press

Subscribe to The Tampa Tribune

Comments