Flat-Track Racing--Pocono-Indianapolis double makes sense Long Pond, Pa., July 22, 2003 -- The stretch of races that begins with New Hampshire, runs through Pocono Raceway and ends with Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Brickyard 400 is important in...
Flat-Track Racing--Pocono-Indianapolis double makes sense
Long Pond, Pa., July 22, 2003 -- The stretch of races that begins with New Hampshire, runs through Pocono Raceway and ends with Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Brickyard 400 is important in the sense that flat-track racing takes center stage for three straight weeks in the middle of the summer. Teams can concentrate on flat-track setups and cars, and in some cases can take lessons learned at one track and apply them at another.
Terry Wooten, a former Winston Cup crew chief turned consultant, said that some teams take the same car to both Pocono and Indianapolis. "There's a lot of stuff at Pocono that you can use at Indy, but not all of it," he said. "But some of it does work, and if you learn something at Pocono that makes the car better, chances are it will work at Indy."
Ryan Pemberton, crew chief for Mike Wallace's U.S. Army Pontiac Grand Prix at MB2 Motorsports, said that the racing surfaces at Pocono and Indianapolis are different enough that it cuts down on the advantages of running the same type of car at both tracks.
"You are talking about the same type of car," Pemberton said. "From an aerodynamic standpoint, the balance of the car and its body as a fundamental part of the car, you want similar cars. But now the racing surfaces [at Pocono and Indy] are so different, you can't really relate one to the other. At Pocono, the surface is so violent. You have three very different corners at Pocono, and you have to be so much more versatile there. Indy is very symmetrical and smooth, and you have to be a lot closer on the setup at Indy for each corner."
While both Pocono and Indy are relatively flat tracks, the biggest similarity rests in the length of the straightaways at both places. At Pocono, the front straightaway is 3,740 feet long, and its backstretch is a whopping 3,055 feet. Both of Indy's straightaways are five-eighths of a mile in length. Aerodynamics plays a huge role in getting the 3,400-pound NASCAR stock cars down the straightaway in the most efficient manner possible.
"We try to take a car to Pocono that doesn't have the downforce in it that you have at New Hampshire, and you need a car that doesn't have a lot of drag," Wooten said. "When you get to Indy, it's a little different story. With that long straightaway, you need a car that can get through the air clean, so you narrow up the front fenders a bit. The sides of the body are fairly straight. We used to build a car that had sides like a speedway car does (more rounded) because we wanted the downforce. But now, the sides are straighter and it still works fine."
Entering the Pennsylvania 500, Ricky Craven looks to equal or better his performance here in June. Craven ran to a 10th-place finish here in the Pocono 500, his second straight top-10 effort. A 15th-place at Michigan--after being involved in a lapped car's mistake--was followed by a 21st at Sonoma, a 43rd at Daytona, 25th at Chicagoland and 21st at his home track of New Hampshire International Speedway last weekend.
Morgan-McClure Motorsports will likely have Winston Cup veteran Brett Bodine in the car at Pocono as team management searches for a replacement for Mike Skinner. David Reutimann, a 33-year-old Florida rookie, will compete in the ARCA race here prior to making his first attempt at the Brickyard 400. Johnny Sauter gave the team its second lead-lap finish Sunday.
John Andretti will have the NetZero Pontiac again this week. He made his first start last Sunday at New Hampshire, but became a target for Jimmy Spencer, who put Andretti into the fence just eight laps into the race. Andretti, whose family is from Nazareth, Pa., is a fan favorite at Pocono.
Johnny Benson continues to be rock-solid, rising two spots in the points to 24th after New Hampshire. Benson was 26th at Pocono in June. Mike Wallace is coming off a crash not of his making at New Hampshire and seeks to improve on last month's finish on the big triangular-shaped track.