I know I haven’t done one of these in a while, but I’m bringing back my weekly raceday setup.
Today, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series makes its second stop at the Tricky Triangle in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. Pocono Raceway was conceived in the 1960’s by Dr. Joe Mattioli who practiced dentistry. He wasn’t new to the racing business. He also owned South Boston Speedway in South Boston, Virginia. That track, however, is under half a mile in length and holds roughly ten-thousand people. Pocono is over six times the size of South Boston and holds just over 76-thousand people.
Pocono Raceway was significant to NASCAR in the 1970’s. At the time, the sport went from 62 races in 1964 to just 31 by 1972. The reason was because NASCAR made the decision to stop visiting tracks under half a mile in length. That eliminated a significant number of tracks, including South Boston. As a result, there were far less tracks that could support two Sprint Cup races a year. Pocono Raceway and the Mattioli family were there to give NASCAR a hand and we’ve been racing in Long Pond ever since.
Now let’s talk about the track itself. Pocono Raceway is a 2.5 mile (4 km) triangle shaped super-speedway with three distinct turns. Turn 1 is a 14* banked wide-sweeping turn modeled after the old Trenton Speedway. Turn 2, the Tunnel Turn, is an 8* banked turn modeled after Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Turn 3 is a 6* banked turn modeled after the Milwaukee Mile. There’s no other track on the NASCAR schedule with such a degree of unique turns. Teams have to setup their cars for one turn and sacrifice the other two.
Riding a wave of three consecutive wins, Kyle Busch will lead the field to the green flag after winning the pole on Friday. He’ll be joined on the front row by points leader Kevin Harvick.
Tony Stewart is on a potential resurgence after qualifying in the top ten for the second straight week. Carl Edwards’ two race pole streak was snapped after qualifying eighth.
Jeff Gordon, the all-time wins leader at the Tricky Triangle, will make his 46th and final career start today from the tenth starting spot. He’ll look to finish his last start at Pocono with his seventh win.
Martin Truex Jr., who won the last time we were at Pocono, will start 13th. Defending race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start the race 15th.
Today’s race will be 400 miles (640 km) and 160 laps in length. The fuel window will be around 38-42 laps. The weather at Pocono is chamber of commerce weather today. I can’t remember a time when both Pocono races had chamber of commerce weather.
The race begins today at 6:00 p.m. on Sky Sports or Premier Sports in the United Kingdom. Here in the states, it begins at 1:00 on NBCSN.
I’ll be back to recap the race in a few hours. Until then, enjoy your Sunday and #LetsGoRacing!!!