LONG POND, Pa. - The persistent rain that washed out all on-track activity at Pocono Raceway yesterday provided a welcome break for veteran driver Jeff Gordon, who has been nursing a sore back.
It didn't bother NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader Tony Stewart, either. Because of the rain, the lineup for tomorrow's Pocono 500 was determined by driver points, so Stewart will start from the pole. But the lost track time could prove costly for others.
Sprint Cup Series rookie Joey Logano, who is making his first visit to the tricky 2.5-mile tri-oval, turned his first lap around the triangular track on Thursday night in a rental car.
"I did simulators, watched tapes, and talked to as many people as I can, but [when you drive around it], this place is completely different," Logano said. "I came off Turn 3 and got to the front straightaway, and I was like, 'Oh, my God.' I mean, it's long."
It's imperative for drivers to carry as much momentum and speed as possible through Pocono's third corner onto the front stretch, which measures 3,740 feet and looks twice that long from inside a stock car.
To let Logano cut his teeth in a less-pressurized situation, Gibbs Racing entered the 19-year-old in today's ARCA Re/Max Series Pocono 200. The practice and qualifying sessions for that series were rained out as well yesterday, but another practice has been added for 9 a.m. today, with the 80-lap race scheduled for 1 p.m.
NASCAR countersues. NASCAR accused suspended driver Jeremy Mayfield of willfully violating its substance-abuse policy in a federal court filing yesterday and argued his failed drug test should not be overturned.
NASCAR accused Mayfield of breaching his contract and defrauding NASCAR and its competitors of earnings.
Mayfield was suspended May 9 for failing a random drug test conducted eight days earlier at Richmond International Raceway. His suspension applies to both his role as driver and owner of the No. 41 Toyota for Mayfield Motorsports.
NASCAR claims that more than $150,000 in prize money was improperly awarded to Mayfield and said that he was in three accidents in the five Cup races he competed in this season while the drugs were in his system.
Mayfield won the prize money for two races in which he has admitted using drugs, and one where he tested positive for an illegal drug, NASCAR said.
Mayfield's attorneys said last week in court that the driver tested positive for amphetamines, which they attributed to the use of Adderall for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and Claritin-D for allergies.
But NASCAR attorney Paul Hendrick said in court that three drugs were found in Mayfield's system, and the Adderall and Claritin-D were accounted for in the results. He described the third as a "dangerous, illegal, banned" substance, but did not name it.
The Track: Pocono Raceway is on Route 115 in Long Pond, Pa. Take the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-476) to Exit 95. Take I-80 east toward Hazleton/Mount Pocono to Exit 284, head south on Route 115 for three miles.
Today's on-track events: ARCA RE/MAX Series practice, 9 a.m.; Sprint Cup Series practice, 10 a.m.; Sprint Cup Series practice, 11:20 a.m.; Pocono 200 ARCA RE/MAX Series race, 1 p.m.
Television: Sprint Cup Series practice (SPEED, 10 a.m.); Sprint Cup Series practice (SPEED, 11 a.m.); Pocono 200 ARCA RE/MAX Series race (SPEED, tape delay, 8:30 p.m.).
Tickets: Call 1-800-722-3929 or check the track's Web site at www.poconoraceway.com.