Keys for Success: Pennsylvania 500 -- Pocono Raceway LONG POND, Pa., (August 1, 2009) -- Each race weekend, random Dodge Motorsports car owners, crew chiefs, drivers, engine specialists and team members will give their insight on the 'keys for...
Keys for Success: Pennsylvania 500 -- Pocono Raceway
LONG POND, Pa., (August 1, 2009) -- Each race weekend, random Dodge Motorsports car owners, crew chiefs, drivers, engine specialists and team members will give their insight on the 'keys for success' for the upcoming race. This week, the green flag drops at the 2.5-mile, triangle-shaped Pocono Raceway for the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500.
Track: Pocono Raceway (race 21 of 36 NSCS point's events)
Race: Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 Track Length: 2.5 miles (200 laps)
Banking in Turn 1: 14 degrees
Banking in Turn 2: 8 degrees
Banking in Turn 3: 6 degrees
Race Record: Rusty Wallace, 144.892 mph (July 21, 1996)
Trivia Question: What race car driver won the first race at Pocono Raceway? (Answer Below)
RICHARD PETTY (Co-owner, Richard Petty Motorsports)
(The first NASCAR-sanctioned race at Pocono was run on August 4, 1974. Buddy Baker led the 35-car field from the pole, but the race was dominated by Richard Petty who led 152 laps. The race, scheduled for 200 laps, was called eight laps short of the scheduled distance due to rain. Petty's race winnings -- $17,000).
WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT THAT RACE? "I remember zero about the race. I remember coming up here in 1972 and '73 and ran a USAC 500-mile race. I think I won one of those. When we got here (for the NASCAR race), we were the only ones that had ever seen the race track. I really don't remember anything about the thing (race). I don't remember dominating the deal. I just know that every time we've ever run up here, we've run pretty good. Even when I wasn't running good at the end of my career, I always like to come here because it's a real challenging race track."
WHAT'S THE BIGGEST CHANGE FROM THAT FIRST RACE TO TODAY? "The biggest change is you've got different cars, different drivers and different tires. You've got the same race track. They run the same place. The circumstances naturally change from year to year. The key is getting the car set up for the track. No matter how good you run, you still have to have circumstances on your side. That showed last week. The 42 car (Juan Pablo Montoya) was the quickest, but he made a mistake and ended up 11th or 12th (the 42 finished 11th). It's the same thing here. You've got to have everything working for you all day long or you're not going to win.
DO DRIVERS STILL RUN THE SAME LINE? "The tires dictate your line. When we ran here, we ran different lines depending on how the car was handling and how the tires were working. That dictated whether you ran real low or high in turn one. Going through the tunnel turn, there's just one way through there no matter what kind of tires you've got on the car or how it's handling. In Turn 3, there are different angles you can take according to what you're tires are doing. Tires dictate anything we do, no matter what. Over the period of time, I think we've come up here with a different tire every race. Goodyear is just trying to improve it. We come up here in the spring and somebody just blows everybody away and they come back with the same setup now and it doesn't work. They've got to have a little different tuning or setup."
Answer to Trivia Question: Mark Donohue won the first race on the 2.5 mile Pocono track on August 3, 1971. The race was a USAC-sanctioned event that continued as a 500-mile race at Pocono thru 1989. In 1973, driving an AMC Matador for Penske Racing, Donohue won the season-opening NASCAR Winston Cup Series event at Riverside. It was Roger Penske's first victory in NASCAR's premier series.
-credit: dodge motorsports