Pit strategy is always important in an ARCA race, but it is magnified when rain is in the forecast. That was the case Friday evening at Pocono Raceway (PA) as a few fast teams missed out on a chance at scoring a victory during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend because they made the wrong pit call.
A heavy rain shower postponed the start of the Mod Space 125 for the ARCA Racing Series for more than an hour. Once officials got the race underway, there was much doubt about whether or not the race would go the full 50-lap distance with a massive storm-front circling the 2.5 mile tri-oval.
Justin Boston, Mason Mitchell and Brennan Poole clearly were the fastest cars in the early going. The three drivers ran nose-to-tail and separated themselves from of the rest of the field. Due to the pending storm, all three drivers waited until close to lap 40 before finally making their way down pit road. That decision proved costly for all.
“It’s hard to give up the lead when it’s raining on the car when you’re going around the track,” said Brennan Poole, who was able to rally back to finish fourth. “It rained all around the track except at the track.”
Miraculously it never rained strong enough to bring out a caution.
“Billy Venturini made the pit call,” said Boston, who finished fifth and is now sixth in ARCA points. “It was a 50-50 shot. It wasn’t the right pit call and we finished fourth and fifth and it’s unfortunate. We should have been 1-2 today.”
Mason Mitchell started on the pole and led a few laps in the early going, but he said that even without the wrong pit call he didn’t believe he had a car fast enough to win. But because of the strategy call Mitchell had to settle for a seventh place finish.
“With this race we’ve always got to play strategy and we didn’t play it right today,” said Mitchell after winning the pole for the race in a new car.
Friday was Poole’s first ARCA start this season. He said that he’s happy with the performance of his car this week, but he said he still was disappointed in the end result.
“I just really wanted to get to victory lane,” said Poole, whose next event is on the dirt at the Springfield (IL) Mile on August 17th. “I have so few opportunities a year and every time I get in the car I’m here to do one thing and that’s to win races. We had the car to do it today and it’s just that things didn’t pan out.”
For the cars that pitted early, it paid off. In fact, the strategy allowed Justin Allison, grandson of NASCAR legend Donnie, to become the third Allison to win an ARCA race at Pocono.
By Rob Blount, Twitter: @robblount – Regional Editor (CT, NJ and Long Island) for Speed51.com – Photo Credit: Speed51.com