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Rain -- again?! -- puts Tony Stewart on the Pocono pole...but the hot debate is NASCAR's pit road speeding rules

   Now maybe if Jimmie Johnson can break Tony Stewart's arm, he can get a leg up in this NASCAR title chase (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   POCONO, Pa.
   So Tony Stewart wins again….just like here back in June, when rain, again, washed out Friday qualifying for Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 and put the NASCAR tour points leader on the pole.
   Of course Stewart hopes history from this point doesn't necessarily repeat itself. Yes, he did win the June 500 here, but he had to come from the back of the pack after crashing in Saturday practice.
   "It's obviously easier to win here if you don't have to pass 42 cars, but we did that last time here, so it can be done," Stewart said after NASCAR officials set the field for the 500-miler by Sprint Cup standings.
   Clean air was so critical at Indy; but Stewart says it won't be so critical here, and his own performance seven weeks ago on this wide 2.5-mile triangular shape track showed that.
   Teams got a little practice Friday, and the Rick Hendrick-powered cars were at the top of the speed charts, no surprise considering those teams have dominated most of the season, including Jimmie Johnson's Brickyard win last Sunday. This is the fifth time this season that qualifying has been rained out.
   Also no surprise: considering Juan Pablo Montoya's pit road mistake, which cost him the Brickyard, a major topic here is NASCAR's pit road speeding rules and procedures.
   Johnson, who benefited from Montoya's speeding penalty, says NASCAR should hook up its pit road speed monitoring system into every team's pit road computers and into the media center too, to eliminate any questions about who is speeding and who is not.
   "I know it's a hot topic, and I was thinking about it over the week," the three-time Sprint Cup champ said, "and a way to eliminate any questions about pit road would be to provide you a channel (an electronic channel), like for timing-and-scoring (which is already linked from NASCAR's own computer system to each team's computer system), for all the crews to watch from on their pit box.
   "And it's live, as it takes place, and if the name pops up in red, everybody can see it at the same time.
   "Because right now there is a question – and it's in the tower, and no one else has access to it. We can get printouts after the fact. But it (the current secret system) leaves room for people to have concern or draw some questions.
   "I think their system works; those timing loops work great. It's electronic; it's simple.
   "But just make an electronic channel available for everybody to look at….and one for the media to look at during the race. And if somebody's name pops up in red….then it's a pit-road pass-through penalty.
   "That would just eliminate a lot of issues.
   "NASCAR gives us a five mph tolerance over (the speed limit), and teams adjust for that, and you try to take as much as you can. It's an important part of what we do."
   Teammate Jeff Gordon was asked why drivers can't simply have a GPS speed monitor, a Garmin or Tom-Tom, on the dashboard to get a satellite-precise speed readout.
    "That's a great question," Gordon said.
    "I think it's a little easier than that even: In every other form of motorsports, you come to pit road and you hit a button and it regulates the rpm and the mph, and you just sit there at that rpm.
    "And I don't understand why we don't have that…with all the technology that we have at our fingertips.
    "I think the concern (about that by NASCAR) is it's a wheel-speed sensor, and then you get into traction control (questions). So that's probably the downside to it.
    "But we've gotten our tachs a lot better now, and we're able to read it pretty close.
    "I was caught speeding earlier this year at Sonoma, and when they said it I was like 'It was questionable. If I did, it was very, very little.'
    "But I would say that if they showed that I was two or three-tenths of a mile per hour over, then they're probably right.
     "I haven't been caught any other time other than that. And I don't feel I've been speeding any other time than that.
    "So I think that what they've got is very accurate.
    "What we (drivers) have got is 90 percent accurate. It would be nice for us to find something that works a little bit better.
    "But as long as our gas pedal is our control unit, then it's going to be inconsistent: If you take 850 horsepower engines and try to run them in second gear at 4000 rpm, I don't care if you're looking at mph or if you're looking at rpm, it's still very difficult to have it exact.
   "And we're always trying to get right to the edge. The pace car runs five mph under the actual speed limit. And then they (NASCAR) make us calculate the next five mph to go to the actual speed limit. It's a weird thing; I don't get it.
     "I don't understand why the pace car doesn't just run the actual speed limit.
    "But they give us a five mph buffer, and we're all taking every bit of it, you know. We're all taking it right to the edge.
    "And when you take it too far to the edge, you're going to get caught.
    "I'd rather be consistent and a little bit conservative than get caught speeding…because it can obviously ruin your day."

The starting lineup for Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway



It rains, Stewart gets the

It rains, Stewart gets the pole as a result, then he wrecks his car and has to use his backup, and he'll start 43rd as a result.

Didn't we see this movie back in June? If so I want some script changes, like 40 more lead changes than in June, no fuel stops needed in the final 20 laps, and how about Allmendinger winning this one?


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