Racing Heat takes toll on drivers at Pocono 500


Bench Warmer
Heat takes toll on drivers at Pocono 500
By GENARO C. ARMAS, AP Sports Writer

LONG POND, Pa. (AP)—Denny Hamlin spoke slowly and looked pale. An exhausted AJ Allmendinger gulped down fluids at his trailer. Brian Vickers cooled off in the air-conditioned media center, but was still sweating profusely before heading back outside.

Temperatures in the 90s and humid conditions took a toll on the drivers Sunday in the Pocono 500.

“I am about to fall over, and just knowing I’m not the only one makes me feel a little bit better,” Vickers said after his second-place finish.

“It’s brutal. These cars, I don’t know what they have to do as a sport, but they are,” he said before trailing off.

Some drivers drove with malfunctioning cool boxes, which allowed hot air to stream in as they raced at speeds of 150 mph or more. Dale Earnhardt Jr. appeared winded after getting out of his car, and his face was beet-red.

After finishing sixth, Jimmie Johnson looked weary after climbing out of his car.

“I feel great, it is just those first steps after 500 miles in a car, the belts are so tight and you are trying to get the blood back in your feet,” Johnson said. “I was pushing the gas pedal so hard trying to catch the guys in front of me, my foot is asleep.”

The temperatures may have given more ammunition to critics who want at least one of the two summertime races at Pocono Raceway be cut back to 400 miles.

“It was a long one,” Allmendinger said after letting out a sigh behind his trailer. “I don’t know why we have to race that long around this place. That’s a long race.”

A brief rain shower stopped action midway through the race, giving drivers a breather as they waited out the break on pit road.

Hamlin said he needed to sit down immediately after the grueling race. He said his air conditioning didn’t help, and that his team may need to look into installing driver fans in the car.

Kasey Kahne’s crew made adjustment to his car to try to steer exhaust heat off the seat, and to **** less oppressive air on to his body during what he called the hottest race of the year.

Winning made the heat a bit more bearable, though, for Kahne.

“I felt pretty good all day. My heart from about lap 120 to the end was pumping pretty hard,” Kahne said. “But it wasn’t like I was overheating.”
You could tell by the the post race interview that it took alot out of Dale Jr. He looked really rough and could hardly do the interview. Goes to show you that these drivers are truly athletes.