The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be making a few firsts this weekend as they travel north to the Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania.
For the first time in their existence, the series is visiting the triangle shaped raceway. Pocono will be the final track on the NASCAR circuit which the trucks have never held a race. and since the announcement, many have had a feeling of excitement heading into Friday, as well as high expectations.
The trucks are thought of by some fans to be the best racing of the weekend, however, Pocono isn’t exactly a fan favorite around the sport. Either way, it’ll be a memorable weekend, and the series will get much deserved attention.
Additionally, storylines won’t be few and far between, as Sprint Cup regulars Kasey Kahne, Denny Hamlin, and Elliott Sadler return to the field.
“Several NASCAR Sprint Cup regulars are pulling double duty with us this weekend. Always nice to have them jump back into a truck during companion events,” said series director Wayne Auton.
“Kasey Kahne is going to drive for Kyle Busch Motorsports and attempt to score his third series win in his third start. He has won every race he has entered so far, but he has not competed in our series since 2004.”
“Think he can do it?” Auton threw out.
“I wouldn’t count him out,” he then said, answering his own question, “ that’s for sure, but I think Pocono King Denny Hamlin might have something to say about that.”
Add in some truck regulars like Todd Bodine, Aric Almirola, and Ron Hornaday—who are all fighting for a championship—and it's guaranteed that it will be hard to watch everything that’s going to be taking place.
The best part, as pointed out by Auton, is that there will be no pre-race predictions or guarantees.
Being a new race on the schedule, there are no pre-race favorites, and there’s no past experience notebooks to study. Instead show up, take it all in, and roll with whatever is thrown your way.
“I love going to a new race track for the first time,” Auton said. “I am like a kid in the candy store—full of excitement. We have been working for over a year to bring the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series to the ‘Tricky Triangle.’”
“Heading to a new track means—for the most part—everyone is a rookie.”
Auton went on to speak about the fans and past memories from the north. The hope for everyone involved in the series would be for Pocono to leave their own mark and memory at the raceway following this weekend.
“It is great to be racing back in Pennsylvania—the Northeast fans are always so supportive of the series,” he said. “I remember the good ol’ days when we raced in this area at Nazareth Speedway. Lots of great memories there.”
The second first for the series, beginning this weekend, is a new qualifying procedure. As previously announced and written about, qualifying won’t be traditional, where one truck each takes their two individual laps. Instead, multiple trucks will qualify at the same time.
“I am also anticipating multi-truck qualifying at Pocono this weekend,” Auton said. “It will be the first time we have done something like this on an oval. It will be exciting for the fans in the stands and those at home watching on SPEED. Just think—we will not know who wins the pole till the last truck goes out for qualifying.”
It’s easy to see why Auton appears over the moon about the upcoming weekend. In the year of change for NASCAR, across all three series, the trucks have stepped up their game and pulled out all the stops in trying to make things as exciting and competitive as possible.
Who will be the first driver to put their name in the truck series history book at Pocono by winning the inaugural Pocono Mountains 125? The event is only 50 laps, the shortest distance in truck series history, but points leader Bodine believes that will make it more interesting.
Along with a sprint to the finish, which always brings out the best racing, Bodine urged that fans ought to expect drafting, as one would on a super-speedway, because of the long straightaways for which Pocono is known.
The 2006 champion, who will be considering Pocono a home race for himself, as he’s from neighboring state New York, also believes that the drivers in field who have competed at Pocono in the Sprint Cup Series are ones to watch.
These two already seem to be like kids in the candy store, all hyped up on sugar, as Auton and Bodine agree that Saturday’s event will be a “heck of a race.”