Crew Chief Club at Pocono

Crew Chief Club at the Pocono 500 Event: Pocono 500 When: Sun., June 20 at 1 p.m. EDT on TNN Where: Pocono (Pa.) Raceway (2.5-mile tri-oval) * Together, Jimmy Makar, Larry McReynolds, Todd Parrott and Robin Pemberton have...

Crew Chief Club at the Pocono 500

Event:  Pocono 500                When:  Sun., June 20 at 1 p.m. EDT on TNN
Where:  Pocono (Pa.) Raceway (2.5-mile tri-oval)

* Together, Jimmy Makar, Larry McReynolds, Todd Parrott and Robin Pemberton have led their drivers to 69 wins, 377 top-five finishes, 598 top-10 finishes and 70 poles prior to this Sunday's Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway.

* Pemberton and his Penske Racing South team hold the track record for a race at Pocono. In the 1996 Miller Genuine Draft 500, Wallace had an average speed of 144.892 mph and finished the event in 3 hours, 27 minutes and 3 seconds.

* The only member of the Crew Chief Club who has led a driver to victory lane in the spring race at Pocono is Pemberton. It was at the 1993 Champion Spark Plug 500 and Kyle Petty was the driver.

* In last year's Pocono 500, the Crew Chief Club finished in the following order:

Parrott/Jarrett                Start:  9th            Finish:  3rd        Status:  Running
Makar/Labonte                Start:  23rd    Finish:  15th        Status:  Running
McReynolds/Skinner        Start:  20th    Finish:  29th        Status:  Running
Pemberton/Wallace        Start:  2nd     Finish:  42nd        Status:  Engine

* Crew Chief Club souvenirs are available on the Chevrolet and Ford merchandise trailers. Fans can also log-on to the Crew Chief Club at their official website,


Jimmy Makar - Interstate Batteries Pontiac of Bobby Labonte - "There are three different corners with three different bankings along with three different straightaways. You've got to give up something in one part of the race track to go fast in another part of the race track. The key at Pocono is getting off the corners good and strong and getting down the straightaway.

The straightaways are so long that if you don't get off the corners good and hard, you just won't have the speed to carry you down the straightaway. That can really mess your lap up. We use an overdrive transmission to help us get off the corners. Before we used overdrive, we tended to overturn the engine at the end of the straightaways, because it is a mile long and we were primarily geared to run fast on the shorter straightaways. With the overdrive transmission , we'll shift into overdrive halfway down the front straightaway. That lets us run wide open all the way down into turn one without over-revving the engine. We'll shift back down into the lower gear coming off one, and we'll run the rest of the race track in lower gear, turning the RPMs we need to get off the slower corners. We'll change the rear end gearing accordingly. Some guys are even shifting twice. What we try to do is get the engine to work in its best horsepower range in each aspect of the race track - the three different corners, the three different straightaways, all at three different speeds. The only way you can do that is by using an overdrive transmission with the appropriate rear-end gearing."

Larry McReynolds - Lowe's Home Improvement Chevrolet of Mike Skinner - "Teams learned several years ago that because of Pocono's three different straightaways along with its three different corners, that if you could turn the maximum RPMs down each straightaway, you'd run faster. In the last few years, some teams have begun shifting on two of the straightaways. Because again, you want to maximize your speed on the frontstretch, on the Long Pond Straightaway in between turns one and two and on the short chute between turns two and three. By shifting on each straightaway, with the exception of the short chute, you turn the maximum RPMs, which means you get the maximum horsepower on all three straightaways. "Pocono is also a very hard race track on engines. We see a lot of attrition because it's easy for a driver to miss a shift and hurt the valve train of the engine. We're turning a lot of RPMs, regardless of where you're shifting or what style you're using to shift. These RPMs are what we call hanging RPMs. It's not like at Martinsville where the maximum RPM just runs up and spikes and then comes back down. Maximum RPMs at Pocono run up and literally hang there. That's hard on valves and hard on a lot of things in the engine.

Pocono has also been known to come down to fuel mileage. A driver can conserve fuel by shifting a little bit late, backing off the throttle a little bit earlier, and getting back to the gas a little later. But how a driver shifts that transmission, by either shifting early or late, can make a big difference in fuel mileage."

Todd Parrott - Ford Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Ford of Dale Jarrett - "Pocono has a lot of Indianapolis characteristics to it. It has a lot of short track characteristics too. It's a place where you obviously need a good handling race car, but you've got to have a good transmission package too. We do use an overdrive transmission, and you must have the gearing just right so the driver can shift, turn and brake all at the same time down into turn one. Turn one you're shifting, turning and braking. Turn two across the tunnel - there's really not a lot of passing, you just drive it across the turn. Turn three is the corner you need to work the hardest on. You have to get off turn three well because with a good run off that corner, you can make a pass down the front straightaway while going into turn one."

Robin Pemberton - Miller Lite Ford of Rusty Wallace - "Pocono is a big race track like Daytona, but it's a flat race track - similar to a short track. You've got to have the most tremendous engine in the world when you go up there, and you set the car up similar to what you would have at a short track - like Richmond. You're carrying so much speed going into turn one that you crash down in the corner. So, you need enough spring in the car to hold the car up so it physically doesn't bottom everything out when you get into turn one. When you go across the tunnel turn, the objective is to get through there almost wide open. Before you get to the corner, you back out of the gas way early, get in the gas again, then try to zoom across the middle of the corner and run wide open by the time you're in the middle of the tunnel turn. To complement that, you really need to be able to get off of turn three without a push. That's where the trouble comes. To keep the car secure enough to get into one, you have to run a lot of spring. But that can make the race car too tight coming off three. You're going to have to give up something somewhere. Fuel mileage is another factor. You can get good fuel mileage by how the driver drives the car. He can't be real aggressive on the gas, and he's got to be smooth all around that place. All the horsepower we need eats up gas."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Rusty Wallace , Mike Skinner , Kyle Petty
Teams Team Penske