The Final Word – Pocono provided a soothing, pleasant environment…and some race cars

Man, Pocono is pretty. It is so green. Watching a race from there is like watching a video on kittens or puppies. You might not be riveted to all you see, but you could calmly drift away to your happy place as you find yourself in the midst of peaceful meditation. Not exactly what you were bargaining for when you tuned in a race, but in these wacky times there are worse things to experience than some ambient video.

It was 160 laps within a soothing, pleasant environment. After the first 100, it was suggested that the outcome might result in one of a handful of drivers claiming the top prize. Kevin Harvick was again very good. Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, and Martin Truex Jr. were among the best. Even Chase Elliott was among our leaders as he continued his quest for his first Cup win. It was pretty. It was nice. It was relaxing. All that was missing was the back rub, a nice fruity drink and a gentle warm breeze. Maybe a certain Beach Boy song playing in the background.

I love kittens and puppies, and I really like Bubba Wallace. He is a lot like Danica Patrick. Popular and charismatic, a total package that is just missing the race results just yet at this point in his career. He also missed fourth gear early in that final stage. You shift about six times per lap at Pocono, and a single gear grinding miss and your day is over. Wallace was the first one out, and in doing so damn near increased my level of awareness during my afternoon of peaceful contemplation.

While everything was just groovy with me, Matt DiBenedetto’s brakes were catching fire. Kyle Larson was on fire, but Derrike Cope was not, as the younger driver pushed the 59-year old into a skid to bring out a late caution. Coming out of the pits, Rowdy got by Harvick to take the lead for the first time on the day. That almost got me to open one eye just a bit.

With just over 40 miles left out of the 400 scheduled, trash on the track. Another caution, another round of pit stops, another leader. This time, Truex in front, followed by Harvick, and Larson shoved himself into third when they took the green. I was relaxing, sure, but I was still noticing stuff.

Three laps later, and the boys ruined everything. Denny Hamlin got loose, and while he caused Alex Bowman to scrape the outside wall, Hamlin went for a skid and punched his nose on the inside barrier. Yellow waved, and it was going to come down to a 10-lap shoot-out. Now I was awake. As for that shoot-out, on the re-start, Joey Logano got into Erik Jones to spin him and the autumn colored flag was back out. Meanwhile, the cars that really mattered still belonged to Truex, Larson, Kyle Busch, and Harvick.

That is how they finished. Truex, who had won the opening stage only to fall back due to a pit miscue, won his second of the season and the 17th of his Cup career. The only change amongst the Chase contenders has Bowman dropping, to be replaced by the 14th place finisher Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Pocono was not boring. It was very, very relaxing, with a few moments to vie for your attention in the late going. Now that I am fully awake, I need some excitement. Time to fire up the lawn mower for a few laps in the yard before supper.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Ron Thornton
Ron Thornton
A former radio and television broadcaster, newspaper columnist, Little League baseball coach, Ron Thornton has been following NASCAR on this site since 2004. While his focus may have changed over recent years, he continues to make periodic appearances only when he has something to say. That makes him a rather unique journalist.


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