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The Backstretch Blog: I cant drive 55

June 11, 2012|By HEATHER WILLIAMS | Eyewitness Sports

The Grand Marshal for Sunday's Pocono 400 presented by #NASCAR may have been Vanilla Ice. But while people on twitter were busy quoting "Ice, Ice Baby," I was having a hard time getting Sam Hagar out of my head. NASCAR was dishing out more speeding penalties than a small town police department at the end of the month. For whatever reason, drivers were having a hard time obeying NASCAR's 55 mph speed limit on pit road.

"There is a segment where something is just not like it normally is," Jimmie Johnson, who got nailed twice by a speeding penalty told USA Today. "There is something wrong with the timing loop. Normally when we hit the orange line, we go, and I did that the first time we got nailed. The second time I waited until the (car) was over (the line) and got nailed."

Drivers were aware of the problem during the race and runner up Tony Stewart said its the price you pay for walking so close to the line.

"It just shows the guys are pushing the envelope so close on it that that's what creates a lot of it," he said. "But it makes you wonder if something was going on in that particular segment because a lot of guys got busted in the same spot.  It wasn't necessarily -- just seemed to be that last segment of pit road. "

NASCAR contends nothing is wrong, but it is different. When Pocono repaved the track, the number of scoring loops went from nine to 10. The final segment is also much shorter than most.

"Typically when you see short sections at the end, you have a tendency to get a rash of speeding penalties," NASCAR director of competition told the media in Pocono. "It takes less of a mistake to make a bigger impact on your speed average."

"It happened a lot today, so it makes you wonder why that many," said winning crew chief Jason Ratcliff. "I don't know, we'll go back and we can go back and look at NASCAR's sheet and see what the mileage was, were guys three miles an hour over, were they a half a mile an hour over."

Of course there is a good way to make sure to not get caught speeding by the NASCAR police and it's something Mark Martin says he does every week.

"I hate to tell the rest of the paddock, but I don't feel that I can overcome a penalty, so I'm willing to stay slightly below the line comfort zone.  For me a half a second is a lot easier to make up than 30 seconds.  I did not have a problem," said Martin.

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