'Pocono Drives Like A Road Course'
This weekend, Kyle Petty and the #45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge team head to the 2.5-mile Pocono Penn. Raceway for Sunday's Pocono 500. Petty will be making his 46th career start on the triangular-shaped superspeedway. He is a former winner at the track.
Petty, 45, will be making his 727th career start this weekend. He is seventh on the all-time list in NASCAR Cup career starts, and fourth among active drivers. His eight career victories place him 55th on NASCAR's all-time list in Cup wins. One of the most recognizable names in international motorsports, as is his sponsor, Georgia-Pacific, Petty's driving career began with a five-race season in 1979. The native of Level Cross, N.C., has won over $21 million.
The thoughts of Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge driver Kyle Petty heading into Pocono:
"Pocono is more like a road course than anything else; maybe more like a road course than it's like an oval. It's not an oval. You can't call it that. It's a triangle really, but it's not a symmetrical triangle. It's pretty tricky. You have to approach Pocono differently. I think it's best to approach it like a road course. You have three distinct turns and three distinct straightaways. Every turn and every straightaway is different than the other. That's a lot like a road course. Pocono is just different that way and that's what makes it unique.
"It's really a track of compromises. Do I give up a little on this turn to be better over here? You do a lot of that type thinking and questioning. You don't, and this is important, give up on Turn Three leading into the frontstretch. That is where you make up all your time.
"You can make up a ton of time coming off Turn Three. I've raced at Pocono for so long and have seen it done so many times. I've beat guys going into Turn One and back down the Tunnel Turn only have him drive by me in Turn Three and down the frontstretch. If you get a good run off of Turn Three you just carry that momentum and motor past the guy. That single turn can really dictate a good lap from a bad one.
"It's not as bad as what it used to be. The cars and the technology have come a long way. We're getting better at getting around Pocono. It's just such a different track to get a handle on. You have to look at it like a road course because the turns aren't the same. The first turn and the last turn aren't going to handle the same. Turn Two, the Tunnel Turn, is going to be different than all the rest too. That's why you have to think of it as a road course in trying to setup the car.
"You know, and have to understand the fact, that you're not going to get all three turns perfect. It's just not going to happen. That's why I say it's about compromise. You can probably get close to perfect in two turns, but you're going to have to give up one of them. It just depends on which one you want to give up. I think Turn Three is the most critical turn because you want that momentum down the frontstretch.
"We've seen so many times that drag race off Turn Three and down that long and wide frontstretch. It's about momentum and having the horsepower to motor past that guy into Turn One. It's the best place to pass. The rest of the track is pretty tough and it can get pretty tight, but not the frontstetch. It's the longest and widest that we see on the circuit. We can fan out probably five of six-wide if we had to.
"I think we look forward to going to Pocono. It takes a lot of driver skill and good mechanical skill to setup a fast car. It's always a challenge. You're never going to be perfect at Pocono, but you always try. It's like that Rubik's Cube you played with when you were a kid. You might get three our four sides right, but no matter how hard you tried you just couldn't get it perfect. That's a lot of what you feel at Pocono. It's frustrating at times, but you just keep plugging away at it. That's what this Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge team plans to do this weekend."