The Mysterious Triangle Known As Pocono Speedway

Sal Sigala Jr.Senior Analyst IAugust 1, 2009

The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil’s Triangle.

Is a region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean in which a number of aircraft and surface vessels are alleged to have disappeared in mysterious circumstances.

The stories fall beyond the boundaries of human error, piracy, equipment failure, or natural disasters.

Popular culture has attributed some of these disappearances to the paranormal, a suspension of the law of physics, or activity by extraterrestrial beings.

To this day, the Bermuda Triangle continues to raise eyebrows whenever its mysteries are discussed.

Pocono raceway is a super speedway located in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania at Long Pond.

It can almost be likened to the Bermuda triangle because of its irregularly shaped triangle that features three turns of varying degrees.

While forcing teams to pick their turn for the best set-up, knowing in return they will not have their cars as good as they would like elsewhere on the track.

While Pocono features the longest front straightaway on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit, the variable turns have also been known to defy the law of physics, and cause some of the most mysterious racing conditions that are only seen at this track.

The odd design makes the setup of the car and the crew’s ability to make chassis adjustments even more crucial here than at many other tracks.

Pocono is also one of three tracks that are privately owned, the other two are Dover Speedway, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Dr. Joseph R. “Doc” Mattioli, along with his wife, Dr. Rose C. Mattioli, built, struggled and ultimately flourished at the 2.5 mile triangularly shaped oval.

Three generations of the Mattioli family are involved with operating the track, and a fourth generation is coming up from the cradle.

Grandsons Brandon and Nick Igdalsky serve as the track’s President and Senor Vice President.

Granddaughter Ashley Igdalsky is a Vice President and is in charge of construction. Grandson Chase Mattioli is a Vice President.

Pocono Raceway has been in almost a constant state of evolution since 1990, with millions of dollars of improvements and renovations made each year.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series takes to the track for the 63rd time this weekend, while it continues a relationship with its fans that date back to the first race in 1974.

Pocono, along with all of its rich history has given JGR driver Denny Hamlin some his best racing memories.

Hamlin’s memories are far from mysterious, and from the way he has dominated this track since he first set his eyes on it three years ago.

It was more of a match made in heaven then a mistake from its wicked three turn configuration.

As a rookie in 2006, Hamlin not only swept the two races that were run, but he also won them both from the pole.

Hamlin’s first five races were all top 10 finishes, with four of the five inside the top three.

“Pocono has been a very good track for us since I started in the No. 11 car."

"To get the two wins in my rookie season was an incredible start and this track will always mean something special to me and this team because of that,” said Hamlin while talking about the upcoming race.

Pocono has also been the site of success for Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing and Penske Racing.

The teams account for six of the top-seeded drivers in the standings, and 23 Pocono victories. Hendrick Motorsports is Pocono’s all-time leading win producer with 11.

Hendrick drivers Jeff Gordon (4), the late Tim Richmond (3), Jimmie Johnson (2), Geoffrey Bodine (1) and Terry Labonte (1) have contributed to the Pocono win total.

Joe Gibbs Racing and Penske Racing have six Pocono victories each. Bobby Labonte swept both Pocono events for Gibbs in 1999, and added another win in 2001.

Tony Stewart took one Pocono win in 2003, to go along with his win earlier this season while driving for his own team.

Current Gibbs driver Denny Hamlin dominated Pocono in 2006 sweeping both event pole awards and races.

Gibbs’ rookie driver Joey Logano will be making his second Pocono start this weekend, while teammate Kyle Busch is still looking for his first Pocono win.

Penske Racing also has six Pocono wins, including four scored by retired driver Rusty Wallace in 1991, 1994, 1996 and 2000.

Former team driver Ryan Newman got a Pocono win in 2003 while current driver Kurt Busch won there in 2007.

In addition, Roush Fenway Racing has posted three Pocono wins with Carl Edwards in 2005 and last year’s Pennsylvania 500 and with Kurt Busch in 2005.

Richard Childress Racing has a pair of Pocono wins, both with the Dale Earnhardt in 1987 and 1993.

You have to go all the way back to 1992, when Alan Kulwicki was the last owner-driver to lead the point standings.

Alan also went on to win the championship that same year.

Stewart, who was only a 21 year old U.S.A.C. driver at the time, still remembers when Kulwicki accomplished the feat.

“Everybody respected Alan because he was an owner-driver and what he was able to accomplish,” Stewart said.

“It was a little bit before I was really a die-hard NASCAR guy.

You know, you go through a time and you’re able to go back and look at how the history of the sport has evolved and what milestones and moments shaped the sport to what it is,” Stewart said.

“So it’s a pretty cool moment to have your organization mentioned with his organization.”

This weekend also marks a very special time in the life of Stewart Haas driver-owner Tony Stewart, as he tries to duplicate his win earlier in the year by starting from the back.

Just like the triangle itself, there are many stories from the past that have given this track its unique personality.

Whether it remains a mystery is still yet to be seen.

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