If It’s Foggy It Must Be Pocono
I bid you welcome gentle readers, and our usual warm and cordial welcome go our assigned reader of all things NASCAR on this beautiful sunny July day in the North Georgia hills. It’s been a hectic week here, as I’ve introduced a new computer to the old system. That’s always fun… (insert sarcasm font here.) The actual transfer went fine, but tons of residual things to change. I’ve found “almost” all of them… I think.
That's what became of my writing time this week. I was just going to take a pass, but decided I could always lean on my alter ego, The Lady in Black to save the day. For those not accustomed to her nicknames, or for those with short memories, the actual race report can be found right here. This is coverage of the early August Pocono race from 2004, an oldie but goody for sure. Without further delay, I'll turn you over to the lady for some good smiles, laughs and memories.
Good day race fans. This is your raving reporter, the Lady in Black, coming to you today from the beautiful Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania, where on Sunday the gang from Nextbest Cup waged the twentieth battle in the Chase for No Sponsorship. As usual, that little black cloud that follows our combatants wherever they go was on hand to cancel all practice on Saturday, and to promote yet another early start to the festivities on Sunday. (All that after fog delayed qualifying on Friday) That left forty-three warriors going into battle with untested steeds, which would lead to several beer breaks through the long afternoon, for the benefit of both man and machine.
The early show got underway with the singing of our National Anthem by Corporal Rahn Richards of the Pennsylvania State Police. He wasn’t the gentleman (Lt. Kevin Pierce of the same organization) that I was hoping to see and hear, but his presentation was filled with reverence and respect coupled with an excellent voice. Bravo Cpl. Richards, for a job well done. (Is vocal training a prerequisite for membership in the Pennsylvania State Police?) There was a flyover by four F-16s from Shaw Air Force Base, and it was time to go racing.
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When the green flag waved, it was young Casey Merely celebrating his first pole and flanked by Captain Nemo and his Army of One, no stranger to the front row. Nemo, showing little respect for the pole sitter, passed him in turn three to lead the first lap and quite a few more. As is usually the way on Dr. Mattioli’s three-cornered nightmare, they soon would string out like pearls on a cheap necklace and proceed to turn giant circles for a long while. After only eight of those circles, we said good-bye to Pajama Jones and eleven laps later, it was Sacks of Fertilizer joining Jones in the lounge.
By the 25th circle, the pylon showed Captain Nemo still in the lead, followed by the Busch League Kid, the Car with the Flames, Jeffy’s Mini-me, Greg Baffled, Candy Man and Stewpot, with thirty-eight still on the lead lap. Three laps later, that would become thirty-seven as the Army of One drove around the Bud Stud, who was gamely out there in battle, despite his wounds. Note to Tony Eury: You might want to be working on your flat track program just a bit more.
On lap 30, the Bud Stud hit the bar for a bit of the sponsor’s product. He was quickly followed by Flameboy who needed some quenching as well. It was monkey see; monkey do as they cycled through a round of green flag Bud breaks. By lap 35, everyone had enjoyed some refreshments and it was the Busch League Kid out in front of the Car with the Flames, Baffled, Mini-me and the Army of One )whose pit bulls had experienced some sort of jack problem while he was at the bar.) Out in front of that bunch was the Bud Stud, trying in vain to remain on the lead lap. One lap later, Flameboy took the lead. Mini-me followed him past the Sharpie entry and around the Bud Stud.
By the time 40 circles were turned, we were missing two more warriors, Kirk Fillerdine and rookie-to-be, Chasin’ Jarrett. Two laps later, Mini-me rolled the Lowe’s Hardware Cart into the lead at the same time that Flyin’ Ryan brought his Mobil Phone Booth to the bar for an attitude adjustment. Shortly thereafter, Carl Long in the tooth retired to the lounge for the afternoon.
At lap 52, we saw the first yellow of the day waving for Scotch ‘n Soda Wimmer, who had flattened a left rear Goodyear and spun his Kitty Cat into the wet grass. That was bad enough, but assuming that he was the One LAP UP (One Lucky Arse PUP) recipient, he passed the pace car and proceeded around the track. The boys in the Cell Block take a dim view of passing that pace car and assessed him not only the lap he gained, but also one more for good measure. The One LAP UP was awarded to Ken Shredder’s yellow bird and the whole gang converged on the tavern doors for a cold Coors Lite and tires.
The Bud Stud took advantage of the leisurely beer break to exit his ill-handling beast and give it over to John Spaghetti for the remainder of the afternoon. Jamie McCutey’s pit bulls let a tire roll away from the barstool, so he was issued an invitation to come back for another beer and Matt the Robot spent a l-o-n-g time at the bar. When they rolled again at lap 56, it was Mini-me leading the Candy Man, the Busch League Kid and Baffled, with thirty-one cars showing on the lead circle.
A few laps later, the Army of One reported that he had only third gear to get him the rest of the distance. Boy, talk about déjà vu all over again! Somewhere around that time, Kirk Fillerdine came out and ran another lap or two before finally conceding that his car just wasn’t fast.
Around lap 72, the pylon read 48/97/24/16/38/9/6/20/25/5 and some 120,000 folks in the stands were starting to think they’d seen this movie before, as Mini-me pulled ever farther out in front of all the competitors. Soon after that, Bodine Toddled off to the lounge to enjoy some air conditioning. At lap 77, Spaghetti flattened up the side of his borrowed mount on the SAFER barrier, then at lap 79, we saw something that I’m quite sure has never happened before. The black flag was waved over the Budmobile for going too slow on the track. Spaghetti willingly brought that ill-handling critter to the garage, where the pit bulls would change rear springs and sway bars in an attempt to tame the beast. He would be seven laps down to the field when he returned to the fray.
On lap 84, we saw the second caution of the afternoon when the Good Shepherd’s engine spread oil all over the asphalt and he took Jesus to the lounge. It was Miller Time for all, and the Car with the Flames lost a lot of track position as his pit bulls decided to play with a spring rubber. There was no One LAP UP awarded that time. It would have gone to Long Gaughan, but he got anxious and pitted too soon.
They resumed the battle on lap 88, with Mini-me still leading over Busch League, Baffled, Mark the Munchkin and the rest of the thirty-one on the lead lap. Two laps later, the NAPA Parts Cart slowed dramatically, but stayed on the track, turning slow circles. At lap 99, the man in the little house on stilts waved the third caution flag of the day for debris, while his other hand waved the black flag over Still Employed Mikey for being poky. This time not everyone opted for refreshments, so the names up front looked very different when they went back into battle. The One LAP UP did go to Long Gaughan that time.
At lap 103, we saw pole sitter Casey Merely finally getting to lead a lap, followed by Brian Snickers, Jeremy Mayfail and Kevin Havoc. Two laps later, Dale Swear-it took the Big Brown Truck to the lounge. He’d return a few laps later with a brand new transmission.
Lap 105 saw Stewpot get all loosey-goosey and plant the Home Depot colors hard into the outside wall. As always, Hurrikahne became involved in the aftermath of Stewpot’s mess and banged up the nose on that big red Dodge. That of course, brought out yellow flag number four, but most of the combatants were still full of beer from the last break and chose to stay out. Hurrikahne spent a long time at the bar while his pit doctors did a nose job on the car. The wrecker that tried to haul Stewpot out of the muck in the infield got stuck himself for a bit and the One LAP UP that time went to Ricochet Craven.
At the restart on lap 112, Merely was still in front of Snickers and Havoc, but back up to fourth place was that Lowe’s machine with Mini-me at the wheel. By the time the fifth caution flag waved for debris at lap 121, he was back in the lead. Almost all of the warriors opted for a cold Bud that time, but several only stayed long enough to get two tires and Dave Blarney kept his AOL Messenger on the track for the lead. That would prove not to be the best idea he ever had, but he did get five free pretzels for doing it. The One LAP UP went to Scotch ‘n Soda Wimmer, leaving him still a lap down, and Jimmy who never forgets was invited to return to the bar for taking his gas can with him when he left.
When they resumed the battle at lap 124, it was Blarney leading Mayfail, Flameboy, Munchkin, the Zewo Hewo, Candy Man and Bobby the Bounty Hunter. In only three laps, they were right back to turning slow circles under the yellow rag when Jeffy Bootin’ booted the SAFER barrier hard and caught up Long Gaughan in the ensuing mess. There were very few that opted for a cold one that time, though a few did stop by for a quick top-off. The One LAP UP went once again to Scotch ‘n Soda Wimmer.
On the restart at lap 134, it was Viagra on the point, followed by Zewo Hewo, Flameboy, Mayfail, Mini-me and Bounty Hunter. Within a couple of laps, the Car with the Flames appeared quite loose on those two tires he’d taken a while ago and started to drift back in the field. Somewhere in there, we said adieu to Jeff the Greenhorn and at lap 139 it was Mini-me back in the lead over Mark the Munchkin. (Whatever am I going to call little Hammy if Mark is a munchkin?) Just a couple of laps later, it was Kevin Havoc retreating from battle and taking his boiling car to the lounge for the day. (It was getting pretty crowded in there, but it would get worse)
Out front, it was no contest as Mini-me kept pulling away from the crowd to let them fight over second place. Blarney dropped a transmission on lap 153, which would eventually put him some thirteen laps in arrears, and on lap 159, the Zewo Hewo fell off the pace after losing 4th gear. Then, he lost the whole car, spinning it around several times before eventually retiring to the lounge for the afternoon. That of course, meant it was Miller Time for everyone, with the One LAP UP going to Flyin’ Ryan.
When they commenced turning circles once more on lap 165, it was Mini-me in front with Viagra hard on his tail. Behind that pair, it was Baffled, Hurrikahne, Texas Terry and Flameboy. All the chatter now was about gas mileage and speculation as to which cars might be able to go the distance. Turns out that they worried needlessly in most cases, since on lap 176, Brian Snickers rudely assisted the Bounty Hunter into the SAFER barrier, bringing out caution number eight. From ninth place on back there were a lot of thirsty combatants that hit the bar for a cold Bud, but the leaders stayed on the track and Flyin’ Ryan claimed yet another One LAP UP award, putting him back on the lead lap with twenty-three others.
The battle resumed on lap 181 and ran without incident until lap 193, when the Sharpie car broke a tranny and the resulting smoke brought out the final yellow rag of the day. Some of the boys in the back room caught a quick Coors Lite and four new Goodyears for the sprint to the finish, there was no One LAP UP, since it was under ten laps ‘til the end and there were twenty-two gladiators still in the battle on the lead lap.
They began the sprint on lap 196, with Mini-me leading Mark the Munchkin, Hurrikahne, Baffled and Flameboy. That running order wouldn’t change before the checkered flag waved and those five were joined on the pylon by Texas Terry, Rubby Gordon, Matt the Robot, Mayfail and Candy Man.
When our conquering hero brought the Lowe’s Rolling Hardware Store to Victory Lane, he graciously left the stupid bottles on top of his car while he said thank you to everyone he knew and every sponsor he’s ever had, and then dedicated the race to Papa Joe. All that was amid showers of something wet that I’d have to guess was Gatorade. After he swept both races at Pocono this year, it seems only fitting that the old track will be sporting a new nickname, “Johnsonville.” Nope, that has nothing whatever to do with Bratwurst, though I hear they go quite well with beer.
That’s exactly the way it was at Pocono on Sunday. Would I lie to you?
And there she goes, riding off into the sunset. Thanks one more time dear Lady for saving my tail in an emergency. For our Classic Country Closeout this week I’ve chosen another great year from the 1950s; this time it’s 1956. Please enjoy.
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!