J.J. YELEY Pocono Raceway -- Like Nowhere Else on Earth CORNELIUS, N.C. (June 2, 2008) -- To say that Pocono (Pa.) Raceway is a unique racetrack might be a bit of an understatement. The 2.5-mile triangular layout has three different corners...
Pocono Raceway -- Like Nowhere Else on Earth
CORNELIUS, N.C. (June 2, 2008) -- To say that Pocono (Pa.) Raceway is a unique racetrack might be a bit of an understatement.
The 2.5-mile triangular layout has three different corners that were each modeled after a different track. Turn one, which is banked at 14 degrees, is modeled after the now-closed Trenton (N.J.) Speedway. Turn two, banked at eight degrees, is a nod to the turns at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And turn three, banked a six degrees, is modeled after the corners at The Milwaukee (Wis.) Mile.
While the track is different from any other in North America, it can provide headaches for crew chiefs and drivers as they attempt to build and set-up a car capable of negotiating each of the three different turns as smoothly and as quickly as possible.
J.J. Yeley, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry, took part in the two-day NASCAR Sprint Cup Series open test last week at Pocono in preparation for Sunday's Pocono 500. Yeley, crew chief Steve Boyer and the rest of the Sprint Cup competitors spent the two days figuring out the ins and outs of how the new Sprint Cup car would handle at Pocono before one of the most demanding races on the circuit.
J.J. YELEY, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry:
You tested last week at Pocono in preparation for the Pocono 500. What are your thoughts heading into the race?
"The test went really well. We unloaded and missed on a couple of things, but Steve (Boyer, crew chief) made some great changes. As long as you get faster during a test, it's a successful test. The first day we were in the mid-40s and the second day we were fifth. There is a new twist going into Pocono -- a freshly paved groove through turn three about three groves off the normal groove, which is normally on the bottom. So, it's going to open it up and make turn three exciting and I think it's going to make the front straightaway one of the easiest places to pass."
What is it that makes Pocono unique from a driver's perspective?
"It's definitely unique because all three corners are completely different from each other. And, we don't go to a lot of tracks that only have three corners. You go through turn one and you're going almost 200-mph and you have to get it slowed down enough to make the turn and then make the tunnel turn, which isn't even much of a turn as much as it is a dogleg, almost. A lot of guys have tried to go wide-open through the tunnel turn in the past and have not been successful."
How did the new-style car handle during the test at Pocono?
"I was pretty surprised how hard you could drive the new car there and how comparable the speeds were to the old car. In the old cars, when you went into turn one, if you made it to the '1' marker or even the '2' marker in race trim, you were driving the corner pretty far. Now, you drive past the '1' marker, almost to the 'half' marker, before you decide to get on the brakes and drive the thing off into turn one. In my opinion, you can drive the new car a lot more aggressively than the old car. I think it's going to help with the race."
STEVE BOYER, crew chief of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry:
The DLP HDTV team tested for two days last week at Pocono. Is it beneficial to have a test at Pocono?
"It's very beneficial to have a test a Pocono, especially with this (new) car. Pocono presents a lot of unique challenges, which help us for a lot of places, I think. We had a pretty good test there. We got a lot faster as we went and we made some qualifying runs at the end that we felt good about. We're looking forward to going back and having a good race."
As a crew chief, how hard is it to set up for Pocono?
"Pocono is a very unique and different race track. Turn one has so much banking that in some ways you don't have to worry about it as much. The tunnel turn (turn two) is very tricky. And turn three, being so flat, presents a lot of unique challenges compared to the other two. So, you always have to make a trade-off and pick a couple of turns you're really going to focus on and a couple that you're going to sacrifice a little bit. Hopefully, we learned what to do and what not to do at the test."