After an exciting week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the NASCAR Sprint Cup series will move to another flat two and a half mile track, the Tricky Triangle of Pocono Raceway.
The paved three cornered track of Pocono has held major NASCAR races since the 1974 season, when Richard Petty took the very first checkered flag at the oddly shaped track located in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.
Each of the three uniquely shaped corners at Pocono are modeled after different tracks of the United States.
Turn one has the most banking at 14 degrees and is shaped like the old track that existed in Trenton, New Jersey. Turn two has eight degrees of banking and is shaped like the turns at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the third turn has the least amount of banking at six degrees. It is modeled like the turns found at the Milwaukee mile.
Since 1982, the NASCAR Sprint Cup series has started to make two stops per year at the tricky triangle, and at times, the two races could be as different as the banking in turns one and three.
The last time the Sprint Cup series made their way to Pocono, Jeff Gordon won the race beating the Busch brothers on June 12.
A lot of eyes will be on Gordon again as he’ll look to back up his June win. However, the last time that a driver has swept both Pocono races was back in 2006, when the rookie, Denny Hamlin took home the checkered.
Before the cars hit the track for the Good Sam RV Insurance 500 at Pocono on Sunday, there are a few stats that are specific to the second (late July-early August) race at Pocono that might help predict who the winner might be.
Greg Biffle got his first career Pocono win last August, driving a Ford for Jack Roush. Fords have won 12 times in the second race at Pocono, it was Jack Roush’s third victory at Pocono in the second race.
General Motors brands (Chevrolet, Buick and Pontiac) are tied with the Fords for 12 victories, in the second race at Pocono, however their last victory in that race came in 2006 and Hamlin’s sweep.
Dodge is next on the list for most career second race wins with just three wins. The last came in 2007 with Kurt Busch at the wheel.
Toyota only has one win in the second race at Pocono, it came in 2009 with Denny Hamlin driving.
Both of the races at Pocono are 500 miles, but the track is really big and there are only a few passing zones available for the drivers. Because of this, a top ten starting position is helpful when it comes to finding victory lane.
In the second race, the average starting position of the winners has been a driver starting in the sixth position (to be more specific, the average starting position for a winner is 6.4.)
Pole sitters have done well at the July/ August Pocono race, as 20% of them have found themselves being both the pole sitter and the race winner (6 pole winners out of the 29 races have won.)
In fact, an upfront starting position is very desirable for the second Pocono race. The furthest back a driver has started to come to the victory was in 1987, when the late Dale Earnahrdt won starting from 16th position.
In the last couple of years Pocono has featured a relative low number of cautions in the race. Earlier this year the 5 Hour Energy 500 featured just four cautions for 14 laps.
In 2010, the August race featured just five cautions periods for 31 laps.
The June, Pocono race in 2010 featured eight cautions for 27 laps. While this is the biggest number of all the previous three races at the tricky triangle, it means that there has been a common theme for the races, which is, pit strategy.
Of the last three race winners, only Denny Hamlin in June of 2010 was able to win the race while leading the most laps. As the laps click off, look for the final pit stop of the day to be the one that decides who the winner might be.
The Good Sam RV Insurance 500 will take place at 1:00 p.m. EST with ESPN airing the race on television, while MRN will air the race on radio starting at Noon EST.