Thursday, June 07, 2012

Drivers: Pocono Race Will Be A Crapshoot

Speed was the word of the day at Pocono Raceway during the second day of a two-day NASCAR Sprint Cup Series test at the newly-paved 2.5-mile triangular-shaped track as teams prepare for Sunday’s Pocono 400 Presented by #NASCAR.
Hamlin predicts "massive dive bombs."
Kasey Kahne laid down the fastest lap of the test at 179.490 mph during today’s afternoon session. A.J. Allmendinger set the pace in the morning session at 177.190 mph; well ahead of the 175.380 mph fast lap Mark Martin recorded on Wednesday. A total of 41 cars tested today; 36 cars were on track Wednesday.
NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said today that from NASCAR’s perspective, the test was a success.
“It’s been really smooth,” said Pemberton. ”All in all, it’s been really positive in the garage area. (The track is) definitely faster, but with the amount of grip that’s here, you’ll see the grooves widen out. With the 400 mile race and the outstanding job Goodyear did with these tires, I think we’re in for an exceptional weekend.”
Drivers said there was a difference in the track due to the re-pave, both in visual cues and overall speed.
“The race track is very fun in the sense of how they graded it and smoothed it out in different places,” said Denny Hamlin, a four-time winner at Pocono. “It’s still Pocono, but it drives very different than what it used to. You’re getting a feel of a lot of different race tracks here within the Pocono Raceway.
Allmendinger: Still learning
“You’re going to see massive dive bombs going into the corner trying to get position. My estimation – you’re going to see a lot of excitement,” Hamlin said. “Anyone who takes time trials on Friday is going to break the track record (172.533 by Kasey Kahne in June 2004). All the cars should break the track record easily. Really, you drive it totally different than what you used to.”
“When we were here at the tire test (in April) there were only seven of us,” said Allmendinger. “It was really cold and not a lot of rubber was getting put down on the racetrack. With (41) cars out there, there’s a lot of rubber. More than anything, you’re just learning how the track changes and what your car does with that rubber on the race track.”
There was also good news for drivers with questionable Pocono resumes. The new version is different than the previous Tricky Triangle.
“It feels like a new racetrack to me,” said two-time Pocono winner Carl Edwards. “I took me a minute to get used to just the different visual cues, and braking points and transitions into the corners. The way you drive into Turn 1, you can be much more aggressive on the throttle, you can be really aggressive on the brakes. It will be an opportunity to really shake things up here. I think the guys that normally run really well here won’t have an advantage anymore. It’s a new day.”

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