LONG POND, Pa. - Kasey Kahne is the current king of the mountain.
Kahne won last year's Pocono 500 from the pole. He also set the Pocono Raceway qualifying record of 172.533 mph in June 2004. In 10 starts at the track, Kahne has two top-five finishes and four top 10s.
Include Kahne among those who would like to see shorter Pocono races. "Five hundred miles there is fine," he said, "but it's a long race. Four hundred miles would be more exciting. It wouldn't be so boring at times."
Kurt Busch, the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, recently suggested that Pocono, which also hosts the Pennsylvania 500, at least try a 400-miler to see whether the racing would be more compelling. Regardless of the race length, Kahne said he enjoys racing on Pocono's 2.5-mile trioval.
"I've always liked the uniqueness of the three different corners and the challenge that it presents to the teams to set up your car to be fast at the end of the different ends [of the corners]," he said.
Dover dip was expected
"We've done this so many times that from the time tickets went on sale, we could pretty well forecast how it would turn out," McGlynn said Wednesday. "People just don't have the money [to spend on races]."
Complaints about the quality of racing also are a factor in lower attendance at many races. That's one reason NASCAR officials recently called together drivers and owners to discuss ways to improve the racing.
"Certain segments of fans aren't happy with developments the last 4 to 5 years," McGlynn said. "Give NASCAR credit for focusing on what it can do to get back in step with the expectations of its customers."
More finishes like Sunday's would do wonders to bring back fans. Jimmie Johnson passed Tony Stewart with three laps to go to win the Autism Speaks 400.
New restart plan
Under the new system, the first- and second-place cars will restart side by side. Under the previous system, cars on the lead lap started single file, while lapped cars were in another single-file line.
"I'm excited about it," Cup leader Tony Stewart said. "The good thing is that when they drop the green [flag], you're going to be racing with the guys you're racing for position instead of trying to clear lapped cars."
Truex moving on?
Martin Truex Jr., in the final year of his contract with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, reportedly is headed next year to Michael Waltrip Racing, where his brother, Ryan, is a development driver.
Responding to requests from drivers and fans, NASCAR yesterday announced double-file restarts will be used starting with Sunday's Pocono 500.
Dover International Speedway's smallest Sprint Cup crowd in years on Sunday did not surprise Denis McGlynn, the track's president and CEO. Attendance was estimated at 100,000, 40,000 shy of the Delaware speedway's capacity.
"The picture is pretty clear for me right now," Truex said last weekend at Dover. "In the next few weeks, everybody will know what is going on.
"With my brother being there, I have more of an insight on how they do things. They seem like a great organization."
Truex is 19th in points. The Mayetta, N.J., native, in his fourth full Cup season, has one Cup win, at Dover 2 years ago. He finished 11th in the 2007 Chase for the Championship.
Let him entertain you
Veteran racin' writer Monte Dutton, one of the good people on the NASCAR beat, is singing tonight at 7:30 at the Blakeslee Inn, near Pocono Raceway. *
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