LONG POND, Pa. - Denny Hamlin spoke slowly and looked pale. An exhausted A.J. Allmendinger gulped down fluids at his trailer. Brian Vickers cooled off in the air-conditioned media center, but was still sweating profusely before heading back outside.
Temperatures in the 90s and humid conditions took a toll on the drivers yesterday in the Pocono 500.
"I am about to fall over, and just knowing I'm not the only one makes me feel a little bit better," Vickers said after his second-place finish.
Some drivers drove with malfunctioning cool boxes, which allowed hot air to stream in as they raced at speeds of 150 m.p.h. or more. Dale Earnhardt Jr. appeared winded after getting out of his car and his face was beet-red.
After finishing sixth, Jimmie Johnson looked weary.
"I feel great; it is just those first steps after 500 miles in a car, the belts are so tight and you are trying to get the blood back in your feet," Johnson said. "I was pushing the gas pedal so hard trying to catch the guys in front of me, my foot is asleep."
The temperatures may have given more ammunition to critics who want at least one of the two summertime races at Pocono Raceway cut back to 400 miles.
"I don't know why we have to race that long around this place," Allmendinger said. "That's a long race."