BY JEFF FALK
LONG POND – If victories are the only determining factor, then probably, not so much. But at Pocono International Raceway, there are so many other ways to judge success.
Bobby Gerhart is never totally pleased with his performance at the place he considers his home track. But that doesn’t mean he’s disappointed either.
On Friday night, over the 2.5-mile Tricky Triangle, during the contesting of the ARCA General Tire AnywhereIsPossible 200, the Lebanon stock-car racer turned in yet another successful performance. Gerhart ran a solid, steady – but not spectacular – 16th in the 36-car field.
The 80-lap event was won by Grant Enfinger, who scored a car-length triumph over Austin Cindric, third-place finisher Brandon Jones, Dalton Sargeant and Brady Bowell. The General Tire AnywhereIsPossible 200 was the sixth event on the 2016 ARCA season and was televised live on FoxSports1.
“I enjoy them,” said Bobby Gerhart, who has run more laps at Pocono than anywhere else in his 30-plus year career. “It’s a challenging place. You have three challenging corners. It’s just a very challenging race track. It’ll test a lot of things. This place has made a lot of race-car drivers.
“No, when I look back it’s not a negative,” continued Bobby Gerhart. “My memories of this place are only good. We’ve come here and had bad days. And we’ve come here and had good days. It’s all part of it.”
After morning rain forced ARCA officials to use practice times to determine the starting grid, Gerhart and his famous Lucas Oil, number-five Chevrolet started in the 21st position. Though he ran near the middle of the pack during most of the race, Gerhart was not without his opportunities to advance his track position.
“It was a little tight early,” said Bobby Gerhart of his car’s set up. “This was the first time that we worked with this car. We learned a lot. It just needs a little more speed, and when it gets it, it’ll be very competitive.
“It wasn’t terrible,” added Bobby Gerhart. “It wasn’t a great car. I thought a top-ten finish would’ve been in order. And if we would’ve had a few things go our way, we could have. We wanted to get the most out of it.”
“We started the race way too off,” said Gerhart’s brother and crew chief, Billy. “We probably pitted there and shouldn’t have, and got lapped. And then we had to make it up. We did get the car a lot better. We made a track bar adjustment on the back, and it gave us a little more grip. I just wish we could’ve done it a little more.”
By the midway point of the race, Gerhart had moved up two positions to 19th. On Lap 57, he was running 17th, but 52 seconds off the lead.
The highest he rose on Pocono’s Big Board all day was 13th, from Laps 65 through 74. But by Lap 78, Gerhart had dropped back to the 15th slot.
He finished one lap down to the leaders.
“We sure did get better. We ended up picking up a second over the last 40 laps,” said Bobby Gerhart. “If you come here to test, and leave disappointed, it’s hard to get it back. We had a limited amount of time to get here. I destroyed my best down-force car last September in Kentucky.
“It’s an accumulation of things,” Bobby Gerhart continued. “You’ve got to get some things right. We were a little off on the slowest part of the race track. That’s where you’ll lose your most time. You just want to hold your own on the fastest part of the race track. Competitively speaking, we had a decent car.”
“The weather conditions today were so different than what we experienced during practice on Tuesday and Thursday,” said Billy Gerhart. “But the guys did a great job in the pits. I was pleased with the way we finished. I just wish we could’ve ran like that at the beginning of the race.”
For Gerhart, it was his 58th start at Pocono’s Tricky Triangle, more than any other driver in the history of the sport. But even more impressive is the fact that Gerhart has finished among the top ten in more than half of those starts.
“Obviously, it’s a goal,” said Bobby Gerhart. “It’s what you try to do. That means that you’re putting cars together right, and that when they get here, the cars run well.
“I would’ve liked to have run better today,” continued Gerhart. “You come to these things to be a contender, and we weren’t a contender today. And if you can’t be a contender, you want to be in the top ten.”
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