I always love a home-state race. When it comes to the Pennsylvania racing scene, we have a lot of dirt and paved tracks that see action every Friday and Saturday night. Well, normally they do, but of course the last month the state has seen a whole lot of rain. Even last night my local dirt track tried to get racing in but then halted because of rain, and despite efforts, it was a rain check kind of night.
But, when the big boys come to the state, coverage of racing comes to its biggest peak when NASCAR makes the trip to the north east mountains.
Pocono Raceway is ready to host the first race of their season, but in reality it is also an enormous test session for 2020. It’s next year at this time that Pocono will see it’s two races happen, but not separated by about 5 weeks. It’s more like being separated for 24 hours, literally, with the first-ever Cup Series back-to-back race weekend.
Of all the places to do such a weekend, why the “Tricky Triangle?”
Well, after spending some time analyzing this concept, this is probably one of the most challenging races of the year to begin with. I mean, at Pocono teams are not only worried about their engines surviving for 160 laps, 400 miles, but also the transmission. Teams are shifting between third and fourth gear multiple times during the lap to keep the RPM’s high in order to keep pace. It’s a major endurance race, even though last weekend was the longest event of the season.
Deciding to do both Pocono races on successive days next year is the ultimate test for teams because the employees at the shop have to literally prepare two cars for two races.
But even before we look that far ahead to a true double-header, we still have this year’s first race at Pocono to deal with. And, as I already stated at the beginning, this track is in the heart of the Pocono Mountains, where even if the area around the track is sunny and bright, those mountains can cause a front to shift and drop some rain drops. This place has seen it’s fair share of rain over the years, especially when it comes to the June event since it’s during the humid part of the season.
Teams always worry about this place when it comes to the drivetrain, as the engine, transmission, and even the rear gear are so vulnerable at this track.
I like Pocono, and have been here only once (my first time ever at any NASCAR event), and it does have excellent racing, long as things don’t get strung out. However, with this new rules package and the amount of downforce, this place could see a lot of drafting and pull-outs for passing. As fast as this place is, especially when you’re entering turn 1, that may be the ultimate passing zone with how these cars get setup. The tunnel turn has long been the challenging corner, and with the amount of speed being carried into that sharp turn it has become extremely spooky.
When it comes to that final, long, sweeping turn three, holding momentum through that corner while keeping the RPMs high will be even harder with how wound up these cars will be every lap.
This rules package will be getting its true test both this week and next week at Michigan. Speeds are going to be at their peak with the exception of Daytona and Talladega, with the difference being there won’t be a wicker added to the spoiler.
It’s gonna be a fast Sunday in the Pocono Mountains, that is a certainty.