June 9th, 2012; Pocono’s Pennsylvania 400 will be a 400 mile race. Joey Logano sits on the pole after setting a NASCAR Pocono Raceway Lap Record in qualifying at 179.598 MPH.
Located at ’500 Long Pond Rd, in Long Pond, Pennsylvania, high up in the Pocono Mountains, lies one of NASCAR’S rarest tracks. The Pocono Raceway is known for it’s unique design that not only challenges drivers by combining the speed of a Superspeedway, with the sharp corners of a road course, it also creates several hours of over-time in the weeks prior to race day for the crew-chiefs whom are charged with setting up a car that is as fast as Daytona, can handle like at Dover and turn like at Watkins Glen. Very tricky.
In fact, one of Pocono’s nicknames is “The Tricky Triangle”. Yes, that is right, Pocono Raceway is indeed “a triangle”. No side is like the other. Drivers catch the green in the middle of a 3,740 feet front-stretch referred to as “The Long Pond Straightaway”.
Hitting roughly 206 mph or better, they have to drop in line fast and brake in order to hang on through the 14 degree, almost flat, banking of turn 1. They exit off turn one, accelerate hard down the 3,055 foot back-stretch, hit the brakes and cut down to the apex of an 8 degree, even flatter, turn 2, drift to the outside, mat the accelerator to the floor while riding the outside wall down the 1,788 foot stretch called “The Tunnel Turn”, before finally letting off the gas, tapping the brake while “burping the throttle” through and even flatter 6 degree turn 3, drifting out and almost knocking dust off the wall with the right rear quarter panel, then back hard on the gas to ride back down the longest stretch of asphalt in NASCAR, the front-stretch again.
They do this for 500 miles at Pocono Raceway, twice each year in June, and merely weeks later in August.
Pocono Raceway Beginning;
Although the track was completed in 1968, it was 1974 before Bill France and the drivers of NASCAR’s Cup series began laying down laps around this odd shaped tri-oval. Actually, since the track is not considered a true oval, and it can not really be looked upon as a road course, some call it like they see it, a “Roval”.
Unlike a majority of NASCAR’s racetracks which are owned and operated by either the International Speedway Corporation (ISC), or Speedway Motorsports (S.M.), Pocono Raceway is owned by the same company that owns South Boston Speedway in South Boston, Virginia, Mattco Inc.
Mattco is a family owned business that believes in keeping the family working closing together. That being the case, Pocono Raceway is currently ran by the Mattioli and Lgdalsky families’ 3rd generation of race track promoter/owners of Ashley, Nicholas and Brandon Lgdalsky and their cousins Chase and Joseph Mattioli IV.
Together, these younger versions of the founding members have created an almost magical experience for nearly 200,000 fans each year that flock to the Pocono Mountains to watch the NASCAR specialist do what they do best.
For years drivers tried to figure out how to go faster around the triangle track, but the short, sharp, almost hair-pin turns prevented speeds from reaching very high, therefore the super long straightaways were being killed on speed as the massive stock car engines struggled to build back the rpms lost through the narrow turns.
That was until 1991. Mark Martin, driver of the #6 Valvoline Ford Thunderbird owned by Jack Roush and current NASCAR Sprint Cup legend, was traveling down the Long Pond Straightaway at about 165mph on his way into turn 1, when he did something different than ever before. He down shifted like on a road course.
Mark shot through turn 1 so fast, he almost ran over 3 other cars in front of him, shifted, picked up an extra 10 mph down the back, down shifted through turn 2, sped around few cars, and by the time he got back to turn 1 again, he had set a track record lap!
Everyone began shifting like driving road courses. It became so popular, a new transmission was specially designed just for this type of driving. It was called the “Jerico” transmission and it ruled the 1990′s.
Eventually, NASCAR banned the Jerico and made shifting go away. However, it has since returned to Pocono Raceway, though not as effective as it once was.
The 3 Infields of Pocono Raceway;
Pocono is the only track that boast 3 infield tracks, North course, East course and South course. This allows enough space for the track to actually hold 3 different events, at each section of track at the same time.
Pocono Raceway Track Records;
On June 12th, 2011, Jeff Gordon set a race record speed of 145.484 mph, in a race that had only 2 cautions.
Just this past Friday, June 8th, 2012, Joey Logano set a Pocono Raceway lap record in qualifying with a speed of 179.598 mph.
Today, June / 10th/ 2012, the Pocono Raceway’s Pennsylvania 400 will be 400 miles and will also be dedicated to the Mattioli Patriarch, Dr. Joseph Mattioli, who recently passed away. Dr. Joseph Mattioli, 1925-2012.
Filed Under: TRACKS