All this week the focus has been on what took place on Monday, and then the ensuing days of what one investigation concluded, then what another found and implemented.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the reasoning, and by no means am I trying to push the issue to the side. But the thing is, all that has been going on has taken away from the on-track product. Considering we were just at Talladega, a place where there is normally one moment where a mistake wipes out half the field, ended up being competitive right down to the very end. Hardly any cars got taken out on a roll back wrecker. That is not something that is said often.
But now, we are looking at a part of the schedule that has not really changed, but is going to be a first.
Keep in mind, when NASCAR returned, they ran four races at two tracks in a matter of eleven days. What gave many of the drivers, and teams, a bit of a reprieve is the fact one race was on Sunday, then the next was run on Wednesday. Those few days allowed a lot of time to get turned around to prepare for the next event, and maybe learn a little to improve how the second event goes.
This weekend we are at Pocono, and again there’s two races on the docket. However, unlike a pair of races in four days, this pair is a back-to-back affair.
When I saw the schedule originally I had this circled as the most challenging part of the season. Teams had to find a way to balance two different cars for two separate races, and had to potentially have not just one, but two, backups ready for action if called.
Now there’s two cars in the haulers as they unload, but with there now being zero on-track time for practice and qualifying, that difficulty drops a bit.
Doesn’t mean it disappears completely. This is a definite test for the teams at the shop since all they were having to worry about is one race at a time. Some teams, such as Harvick, didn’t even have to prepare two cars since the car that won the first race at Darlington was taken back to the shop, cleaned up, reset, and given a new wrap for the second event.
Trying to do something like that here could be challenging, but so far it’s not certain if teams are trying to do both races with one car. Based on the paint scheme lists, with some doing two different sponsors, the only possibility is taking one car, completely taking off the wrap, and getting it prepared for the next day.
My only concern is the team possibly running almost 700 miles on one engine and drivetrain. Sure, the two races at Charlotte were over 900 miles combined if you add in the overtime ran in the Coca-Cola 600, but teams were not going to run that engine again on Wednesday.
Here, it’s 675 miles of action that could be potentially on one engine, if a team decides to run the same car for both races. But in reality, the smarter thing is to have two cars, because let’s face it, 325 miles is hard on an engine at Pocono Raceway. It’s the transmissions that get the bigger work out and are just begging for a reason to give up. A shift on each straightaway, and each corner, eventually one of the gears are going to give up.
This is going to be very interesting how each team attacks this double-duty weekend. This place is already a tricky triangle, but now it is double the trouble.