SB Nation Atlanta
Stay connected for news and updates Follow @sbnatlanta
Like us to subscribe
One NASCAR fan is dead and one other remains in critical condition following a lightning strike in the parking lot outside the Pocono Raceway after the Pennsylvania 400. Eight other fans have less severe injuries.
Track president Brandon Igdalsky made the announcement of the fatality.
The fans apparently were heading to their vehicles after the race ended with 98 laps complete due to the storm. The track had put out a bulletin advising fans to seek shelter to wait out the severe weather, and most fans took refuge under the grandstands.
The massive strike occurred near the turn three grandstands. Two fans were critically hurt and taken to area hospitals. One was pronounced dead on arrival.
Reactions to the strike were abound on Twitter, many of which were compiled by SB Nation's NASCAR Editor Jeff Gluck.
Race winner Jeff Gordon said he was fairly certain which strike had caused the tragedy, saying that he was walking down pit road when a "huge, huge crack from lightning" sounded. He went on to say that the situation would take away from his victory.
Already questions are abound as to whether or not the situation could have been prevented. At 4:12 p.m., a severe thunderstorm warning was issued for the area, but the race continued for another half hour until rain finally reached the track. The Pocono Raceway Twitter account posted at 4:21 p.m. that severe lightning was in the area.
My prayers and heartfelt condolences go out to the family of the fan who passed away and the rest of those injured.
A severe thunderstorm has taken over the Pocono Raceway, with torrential rain and intense lightning. As a result, NASCAR has called the Pennsylvania 400 after 98 of the 160 scheduled laps.
Jeff Gordon has claimed the 86th win of his Sprint Cup career and a record sixth victory at Pocono. He managed to avoid a restart melee triggered by Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth to take over the top-spot. With the win, Gordon would claim the second Wld Card position and be able to race for his fifth championship this fall.
Kasey Kahne - who stayed on track after the crash with a flat right-rear tire in hopes rain would end the race before it restarted - finished second ahead of Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, and Tony Stewart. Ryan Newman finished sixth, followed by Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, Regan Smith, and Marcos Ambrose.
Johnson wound up 14th after the restart tangle, while Kenseth was 23rd. Denny Hamlin, who slammed into Kenseth's Ford in the wreck, wound up 29th.
Kenseth's accident allowed Dale Earnhardt Jr. to maintain his point lead despite a 32nd-place finish. Earnhardt led 17 laps early before a broken transmission ended his race.
A major crash with rain looming has changed the complexion of the Pennsylvania 400. It might also be the biggest moment of Jeff Gordon's miserable year.
Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth connected as they battled for the lead entering the first turn, sending both cars across the corner towards the wall. Kenseth's Ford collected teammate Greg Biffle, putting both in the outside wall, while Johnson managed to save his car but lost a tremendous amount of track position.
Kenseth's Ford slid across the track into traffic and was t-boned by Denny Hamlin, destroying the nose of Hamlin's Toyota and knocking the four-time Pocono champ and new dad-to-be out of the race. Kenseth, Biffle, and Johnson each drove away from the melee, while Hamlin's car retired a tow to the garage.
The carnage has cleared the way for Jeff Gordon to potentially get his first win of an awful 2012 season. The five-time Pocono winner holds the top spot with rain fast approaching that could end the race once it hits. Gordon has not won since claiming his 85th win at Atlanta Motor Speedway last September.
Sprint Cup point leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. charged from eighth to first in the opening laps of the Pennsylvania 400 and looked strong through the first 49 laps of the race. Unfortunately, the 50th was his undoing.
The transmission in Earnhardt's No. 88 Chevrolet broke as he exited the first turn, leaving him without third and fourth gear as he coasted helplessly to the garage area. He had led 17 laps - a race-high since eclipsed by teammate Jimmie Johnson - and seemed destined to at least maintain his point lead if not extend it. Now, he seems almost certain to lose the top spot he held for just one week.
Earnhardt's issue also bring to an end his streak of laps completed. Earnhardt had finished on the lead lap in every race thus far in 2012, his 21-consecutive such finishes tying Jeff Gordon's record.
While Earnhardt has fallen by the wayside, Johnson seems intent on repeating his performance last Sunday at Indianapolis. With less than 15 laps remaining before the race's midpoint, Johnson holds a sizable lead - over three seconds - on Matt Kenseth. Kasey Kahne runs third, followed by Greg Biffle and Jeff Gordon.
Completing the top-10 are Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman, Martin Truex Jr., Tony Stewart, and Clint Bowyer.
The drivers have started their engines and the Pennsylvania 400's green flag is now imminent.
NASCAR has confirmed there will be a competition caution flag at lap 20. Competition yellows are standard procedures in races that have been affected by rain during the morning or at any point since their last practice session.
Rain at Pocono has been a bit of a common theme in the August race. This is the fifth-straight year that rain has plagued the event at some point. In 2007, the last year the August race went dry, the June event was shortened by rain.
With a green race track - that is, a track with all the rubber that had been laid down over the course of the weekend washed off - teams have little to no idea what to expect when the race gets going in terms of handling and tire wear. The competition caution will help, of course, but the opening laps of the race promise to be treacherous.
There's a reason I write about stock car racing for this wonderful website, rather than forecasting the weather. I said when rain was pouring over the Pocono Raceway to make a date for tomorrow because I didn't anticipate there being any on-track action today.
Shows what I know. The track has dried nicely and should be ready for the Pennsylvania 400 to get going soon. Opening ceremonies have been completed and the drivers are about to climb aboard their race cars.
Weather is forecast for later in the day, so there remains a chance that the race will be affected by the wet stuff before its conclusion. Unofficially the race is for the 81st lap, as NASCAR races are official once half the distance plus one lap have been completed. At that point, it could rain for 40 days and 40 nights in the Poconos - though it might hurt its reputation as the quintessential honeymoon destination - and not bother NASCAR Nation a bit as we don't have to worry about racing there again until June.
The deluge of rain that thoroughly soaked the Pocono Raceway has stopped as of 1:15 p.m., and jet dryers have commenced the task of getting the 2.5-mile track in racing condition fast enough for cars to get at least have a shot to get to halfway before the next heavy cell of weather hits the track.
The track takes two hours to dry, which would put the completion of the process - barring any more rain or any complications such as weepers - at around 3:15 p.m. Without any more rain, the event would hopefully go green shortly therafter.
Once the race finally gets started today, it will likely be a run to try to reach the 80th lap, at which point the race becomes official. If the rain struck at any point after that, the event could be called. If the race is not past its midpoint when the rain strikes and the race could not be resumed today, teams would have to wait until tomorrow to attempt to complete it.
Rain, rain, go away. We wanna race today.
Alas, the wet stuff threatens the Pennsylvania 400 at the Pocono Raceway today. It is pouring at the 2.5-mile race track, and the forecast for Blakeslee, PA (where the track is located) is far from encouraging, with an increasing chance of rain throughout the day.
NASCAR, hoping to avoid the rain, had moved the start of the race to 1:12 p.m., up seven minutes from its previously scheduled start time. Unfortunately the skies opened up at about 12:25, thoroughly drenching the track.
Drying Pocono, a long, flat circuit with wide straightaways, takes about two hours. Unfortunately, the forecast linked above doesn't leave much of a window for the track to first be dried and then cars to take the green flag. In short, make a date for tomorrow afternoon, because it does not look like there will be any NASCAR Sprint Cup action today.
NASCAR is gearing up for what could be a rainy Sunday at Pocono Raceway for the running of the Pennsylvania 400. Coverage gets underway at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN with NASCAR countdown with actual race coverage beginning at 1. The green flag is scheduled to drop at approximately 1:20 p.m.
Race Date/Time: Sunday, August 5, 1 p.m. ET
Location: Pocono Raceway, Long Pond, Pennsylvania
Radio: Motor Racing Network
1. Juan Pablo Montoya
2. Denny Hamlin
3. Paul Menard
4. Kasey Kahne
5. Marcos Ambrose
6. Kurt Busch
7. Matt Kenseth
8. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
9. Ryan Newman
10. Jimmie Johnson
11. Regan Smith
12. Greg Biffle
13. Aric Almirola
14. Joey Logano
15. Martin Truex Jr.
16. Jamie McMurray
17. Carl Edwards
18. Mark Martin
19. Clint Bowyer
20. Kyle Busch
21. Kevin Harvick
22. Landon Cassill
23. Jeff Burton
24. David Reutimann
25. Sam Hornish Jr.
26. David Gilliland
28. Tony Stewart
29. Casey Mears
30. Mike Bliss
31. Brad Keselowski
32. David Ragan
33. Scott Riggs
34. Josh Wise
35. JJ Yeley
36. David Stremme
37. Travis Kvapil
38. Joe Nemechek
39. Bobby Labonte
40. Reed Sorenson
41. Jason White
42. Tony Raines
43. Mike Skinner
It's been a long time since Chip Ganassi's NASCAR Sprint Cup team has had much of anything to celebrate, but they enjoyed a small victory Saturday at the Pocono Raceway. Juan Pablo Montoya won the pole for Sunday's Pennsylvania 400, turning a lap of 51.124 seconds in his No. 42 Chevrolet to grab the eighth pole of his career.
Denny Hamlin, who announced Friday that he will be a first-time father in January, was second. Paul Menard was third in his backup car following a practice crash that wiped out his No. 27 Impala Friday. Kasey Kahne and Marcos Ambrose complete the top-five.
Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Sprint Cup point leader Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman, and Jimmie Johnson round out the top-10 qualifiers.
Montoya is still seeking his first Sprint Cup win on an oval and his first oval-track victory period since he won a race in the now-defunct CART Champ Car series in 2000 at the also-defunct Gateway International Raceway just outside St. Louis. The 2000 Indy 500 champ won seven times in Formula 1 before making the switch to NASCAR, reuniting with Ganassi (with whom he won the 500 and the 1999 CART championship). Since 2007 Montoya has two wins, at Sonoma in his rookie season of 2007 and at Watkins Glen in 2010.
Visit Jayski.com for the full starting lineup for Sunday's race.
Penske Racing has released suspended NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver A.J. Allmendinger, effective immediately. Sam Hornish Jr., who had been piloting the No. 22 Dodge in the interim and races full time for Penske's Nationwide Series team, will drive the Shell/Pennzoil machine for the foreseeable future.
Allmendinger was given a "temporary" suspension the night of the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona on July 7 after NASCAR was informed that his "A sample" had failed a random drug test. Hornish flew from Charlotte to Daytona, landing within 30 minutes of the green flag, but drove the car in the race. He also drove the car at Loudon, NH a week later while Allmendinger awaited his B-sample results.
When that test on July 24 also failed, Allmendinger's suspension became indefinite pending his completion of NASCAR's "Road to Recovery" reinstatement policy. Hornish was in the car at Indianapolis, and he now becomes essentially the full-time driver.
The No. 22 Dodge was one of the potential destinations for Unadilla's David Ragan this past off season before Allmendinger became available from Richard Petty Motorsports. Allmendinger, with more of a proven track record despite Ragan's victory at Daytona last July, got the seat and automatically was pegged as this year's break out driver. Results had been less than stellar for the 22 team, though, and Allmendinger had all but been eliminated from any shot at making the Chase for the Championship at the time of his suspension.
NASCAR visits the Pocono Raceway for the second time in 2012. Joey Logano won there in June, while Brad Keselowski is the defending champion of the Pennsylvania 400.