Racing at Pocono has eerily mirrored Bobby Gerhart’s entire career. He’s gotten out of it what he has put into it.
And that’s not to say Gerhart hasn’t given everything he has inside of him – heart and soul. But unfortunately, in big-time stock-car racing, it’s money that talks.
On Friday, the Lebanon racer qualified a somewhat disappointing 21st for Saturday’s running of the Pennsylvania ARCA 125 at Pocono Raceway’s 2.5-mile paved tricky triangle in Long Pond. Gerhart covered his time-trial lap in 56.502 seconds for an average speed of 159.286 miles an hour.
Another Lebanon driver, 24-year-old Kyle Martel, will start a spot ahead of Gerhart, after turning a qualifying lap in 56.431 seconds or 159.487 mph. Max Gresham captured the pole for the 50-lap race with a time of 53.535 seconds and a speed of 168.114 mph.
Saturday’s running of the Pennsylvania ARCA 125 can be witnessed live on Speed Channel.
“We practiced very well, we were like 12th or 13th in practice,” said Gerhart. “And we made a little change with the car and hoped it would help and it went the wrong way. There’s a lot of things that go on during preparation and we tried some things that didn’t work out. But I think it’ll race real well.
“Actually, the goal today was a top-ten start, and we fell short,” Gerhart added. “We just had a couple of setbacks today.”
Gerhart finished 13th in the June ARCA race at Pocono.
“Tomorrow, unfortunately, starting position is going to be very important because it’s a very short race,” said Gerhart. “Track position is going to be very important. You’re just going to have to be creative. You’ve just got to make the best of what you’ve got.
“Look, it is what it is,” continued Gerhart. “The way ARCA racing has evolved, there was a time when we practiced two days at Pocono, it’s gotten condensed into one hour. How disappointing is it? Sure it is. But it’s not the end of the world.”
In 44 career starts at Pocono, the best finish Gerhart has been able to muster was a third in 2004. Gerhart has won the season-opening ARCA race at Daytona a record seven times.
“I know it looks like we fall off the map at some of these places,” said Gerhart, 53. “But it’s just the way it is. Money buys a lot. I can’t complain about it. It’s as American as anything.
“I think the thorn in our side there (Pocono) is preparation,” Gerhart added. “That’s not something I can put any blame on. The priority in my career, I’ve put in other places. To do well, you’d have to go test there and put a block of money there. There hasn’t been any time in the last ten years when we didn’t test two or three times at Daytona. This race (Pocono) doesn’t get the attention that others do.
“I’m not going to say we’re ill-prepared there. Our stuff runs to the end.”
Gerhart is currently 18th in the ARCA points standings, partly because he’s started seven of the series’ 12 races to date. In addition to his victory at Daytona, Gerhart has a third-place finish at Talladega to his credit.
“To be honest, we’ve had a very odd year,” said Gerhart. “Things haven’t gone the way we’ve wanted them to go. Some of it is the amount of the budget and how much you want to spend where.”
Martel has started only one other ARCA race this year, the June Pocono event where he was 14th.