With one race down in the Pocono Raceway doubleheader for the NASCAR Cup Series, drivers and teams will now quickly turn their attention to Sunday’s Pocono 350 (4 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
With NASCAR officials requiring teams to run the same car they competed with on Saturday, provided they don’t switch to a backup car from damages beyond repair, teams will work feverishly to complete the proper maintenance to get their machines ready.
The near hour delay to Saturday’s green flag time for inclement weather tightened the window for just how long teams are able work in the garage before it closes. NASCAR officials extended the closure of the Cup Series garage to 11 p.m. ET for cars that had to go through post-race inspection, a half-hour addition to their prep time. For all other teams, the garage was still set to shut down at 10:30 p.m. ET at the 2.5-mile Pennsylvania triangle. It reopens bright and early Sunday at 7 a.m. ET.
So just how much is everyone feeling the crunch? When asked about the tall task of getting the same car race-ready for Sunday during his post-race virtual media availability, Rodney Childers — crew chief for race winner Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford — began to not express much concern for making it happen.
But then he looked down at his watch, a little surprised to see what his time piece had displayed.
“Yeah, it’s going to be pretty tight, and I was supposed to be out there changing brakes and hubs. So, the longer I’m on here, the more behind we’re going to be,” Childers said with a grin.
“We’ll get it done,” Childers added. “I think from a body standpoint, there was a little bit more damage on the car than I thought there. There’s actually a hole in the nose that probably wasn’t helping at all. Somehow, we have to get that fixed tonight, along with all of our other maintenance stuff and engine stuff.”
On top of the challenge for the winning No. 4 team, Harvick will start 20th Sunday after the first 20 positions were inverted for Sunday’s starting lineup based on Saturday’s results. But after missing the setup a bit during the early stages of Saturday’s 325-miler, Harvick didn’t appear to sweat the double duty.
“We had great practice today being 20th,” Harvick said. “I think if you look at the track position, we were able to overcome that with the right decision. In the end, I think that’s what it’s going to boil down to. You’re going to have to have fast cars, you’re going to have to have the right strategy.”