Revised restarts go smoothly

STAFF WRITERJune 8, 2009 

— No time was wasted in putting NASCAR's new double-file restart policy to the test.

On the first lap of Sunday's Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway, Denny Hamlin's car didn't come up to speed and when he couldn't make it to pit road, a caution was displayed -- giving drivers their first look at the new procedure.

In previous races, the cars -- all on the lead lap -- would have lined up single-file on the restart. Instead, it looked as if the race had started from scratch.

Four more times cautions came out, and the double-file restarts were used each time with no obvious problems.

No driver had serious problems finding his correct spot to line up, and there weren't any disputes over teams' strategies.

"I thought it was great; it was fun and I thought it made for exciting racing," said driver Carl Edwards, who finished second behind Tony Stewart. "I think NASCAR is moving in the right direction there."

David Reutimann, who finished third, agreed.

"I think if the fans like it, if it adds a little something to the race to them, I think it's a win-win," he said. "Sometimes it's a 50/50 shot it's going to work for you.

"I'm sure they will refine it and make it better, but I think it came off pretty good for the first time going."

During the pre-race drivers' meeting, race director David Hoots spent more than 20 minutes answering questions about the new procedure, which left some wondering if problems would arise.

"I thought there might have been mass confusion out there a couple times, but everyone had it all figured out, so it was good," rookie Joey Logano said.

Hamlin hamstrung: Another week, another setback for Denny Hamlin.

A fuel pump problem that sent Hamlin, 28, to the garage two laps in saddled the No. 11 Toyota the rest of the afternoon. He also went to the garage 13 laps in, apparently for the same issue.

Hamlin finished 38th in the 43-car field, 22 laps off the lead. He tumbled from seventh to 12th in the points standings, clinging to a one-point edge over 13th-place Mark Martin.

The top 12 drivers make the season-end Chase for the Sprint Cup championship playoff.

The previous week at Dover, Hamlin, in second at the time, blew a right-front tire and slammed hard into the wall just past the halfway point of that race. The bad finish sent him from fifth to seventh in points.

In the pits: Other top drivers had a tough day on pit road at the Tricky Triangle, though it didn't set them back too much in the points race.

Jimmie Johnson started the painful pit parade on lap 104 when he was penalized for being on pit road when a yellow flag flew. The red light was on at the entrance for pit road -- meaning it was closed -- when Johnson arrived at his stall, so he was sent to the back on the restart.

His No. 48 Chevrolet slipped from third to seventh on the final lap after running out of fuel on the third turn.

"It was funny trying and wondering who was going to go, and when," said Johnson, who stayed third in the points.

Ryan Newman was penalized for speeding on pit road twice. He was also hampered by a bad spark plug that forced him to pit six times over a span of two cautions at mid-race.

Yet he finished fifth to extend a streak of top-10 finishes to six. He moved up one spot in points to fourth, past Kurt Busch.

Busch had a water pump issue with his No. 2 Dodge that forced him to miss 17 laps before returning on lap 148. The Associated Press

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