After undergoing its first repaving since 1995, the 2.5-mile triangular layout will be a fresh canvas when the series returns to eastern Pennsylvania on Aug. 4. It’s doubtful the bumps and gouges navigated over the past two seasons will be missed.
Matt Crafton, part of a group of seven who participated in last week’s Goodyear tire test, pronounced the new surface interesting, fun and fast.
“They outdid themselves on the pavement. It’s definitely one groove right now, but I’m sure, as you get more race cars on the track, they’ll be running side-by-side, and it’ll be interesting to see,” said Crafton, who finished third and eighth in his two trips to the “Tricky Triangle.”
Like the majority of his rivals, Crafton had no preconceived notions of Pocono, only what he’d seen on television.
“Everybody always talks about the tunnel turn, and you have no idea how tight that tunnel is. TV doesn’t do it justice at all,” said Crafton. “I took my crew chief (Carl Joiner Jr.) around it in my truck, and I said, ‘Yeah, I think we’ll be wide open through here.’ He goes, ‘You’re an idiot. There’s no way.’ I said, ‘I guarantee it.’”
By his third lap of testing, Crafton was up to 90 percent throttle.
“I love coming to the place. It’s like they always say, it’s like a road course but kind of going in a circle, but it’s a blast,” he said.