There was racing on a rain-drenched Sunday in the Pocono Mountains, albeit at an indoor Go-Kart facility about 30 minutes from a waterlogged Pocono Raceway.
That’s where crew chief Cole Pearn and the other members of Martin Truex’s No. 78 Furniture Row Toyota team were headed to kill some time after the Axalta 400 was postponed until Monday.
The green flag is expected to drop at noon Monday, with forecasters finally calling for sunny skies after a weekend of wet weather.
It will be NASCAR’s first Sprint Cup series race run on a Monday since April 7, 2014, when Joey Logano won at Texas Motor Speedway after rain postponed the Duck Commander 500 a day.
Given the Sunday forecasts (100 percent chance of rain), drivers showed up at the track not expecting to race. NASCAR officials called it at 2 p.m., an hour after the scheduled start time.
Pearn and the rest of Truex’s team already had solidified their rainy-day plans by then. Someone had found the indoor Go-Kart track near their hotel in nearby Stroudsburg.
“We’ll figure out something to do this afternoon. Then we’ve got to work on Michigan,” Pearn said, referring to the site of next week’s Sprint Cup stop.
“You’re going to lose what you’d normally do on a Monday,” Pearn said. “So we’ve got to use that time (Sunday) to get ahead on what you need to do because it’s going to be a short turnaround in the shop.”
Truex arrived at Pocono on a three-week hot streak highlighted by one of the most dominant performances in NASCAR history. Truex, 35, ran away from the field at Charlotte, leading a record-breaking 588 miles to grab the checkered flag at the Coca-Cola 600.
Truex, 35, is the series lap leader at 809 and has already surpassed his career high (581 in 2007) for a season. He led 611 laps in the three weeks preceding Pocono, where he won last year’s June race.
But it’s been a tough weekend so far for Truex, the weather notwithstanding.
After winning two poles (at Charlotte and Kansas) in the past three weeks, Truex qualified 17th here. And though Truex turned in the fourth-fastest practice lap Saturday at 176.3 mph, Pearn still isn’t thrilled with how the car is handling.
“We’ve struggled this weekend. This is one of the rare weekends I wish we had some more practice, honestly,” Pearn said. “Only having one practice on Saturday, we could’ve used a second one. We were off, but we were getting closer. We just hope we can make the right adjustments going into (Monday).”
Truex was among four drivers who participated in tire testing at Pocono in April, when it was dry but cool in northeastern Pennsylvania. Brad Keselowski, who also tested here in the spring, had one of the fastest cars Friday and Saturday and will start from the pole Monday afternoon.
Truex will start a little farther back than he’s been accustomed lately. But with the weather finally expected to clear up Monday, Pearn wasn’t letting the gloomy weekend affect his disposition.
“It’s always hard when you test and race because you’re comparing different conditions,” Pearn said. “You’re (like), ‘Well, it did this here and did that there.’ You just have to tear down those preconceived notions and be able to react to problems. It just took us a bit to work in that direction, but I feel we’re doing it.”