FYI WIRZ is the swift presentation of pertinent motorsports topics. Compiled and condensed by Dwight Drum @ Racetake.com
The top five drivers in NASCAR Sprint cup Series—Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, and Denny Hamlin—are at no loss for words about the difficult Pennsylvania track known as Pocono Raceway.
The Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500 commences this Sunday at 1:00 p.m. on TNT, and the track seems to be all about turns.
This fast series includes comments by NASCAR’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Sprint Cup's red-hot driver for the past two races at Charlotte, Kurt Busch.
No. 1 Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Chevy)
“For me, the trickiest part of Pocono is the Tunnel Turn,” Harvick said. “You have to carry so much speed into that turn that there is not much room for error. The Tunnel Turn is so much harder to get through now then it used to be. A couple of years ago there was a flat curb there and you could lean on it a little bit if you needed to. Now, there is a big curb there and if you hit it you’ll probably be forced up the race track, and the chances of hitting the wall are pretty high."
Pocono has a lot of its own characteristics. It’s a 2.5-mile triangle-shaped race track that has three pretty tricky turns. Turn one is really bumpy, the Tunnel Turn has a pretty big curb and it is pretty easy to make a mistake there and turn three is one of the flattest turns we deal with on the NASCAR circuit. It definitely has its own unique challenges.”
No. 2 Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Ford)
"Pocono is a very challenging track for a few reasons," Kenseth said. "The main issue at Pocono is that it's the only track we go to with three very distinct turns. The only other tracks with more than two very different turns are road courses. You need a lot of horsepower to get down the long straightaways and you have to have a good-handling car to carry that momentum through the turns. The goal is the same at Pocono as it is at other tracks we race at; you have to get through the center of the turn better than everyone else and fuel mileage also comes into play at Pocono."
No. 3 Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota)
“The hardest part of the track, for me, is probably turn one, and then turn two is the second-hardest, and then turn three is the third-hardest,” Busch said. “Turn three, last year, because of the patch they laid down. We couldn’t go down low and get underneath somebody and get a run on them because, when you come off the corner, you’re 8 to 10 mph slower than the guy on your outside and they’re just going to blow right by you going down the straightaway.”
No. 4 Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Chevy)
“The Tunnel Turn (turn 2) is one of my favorite turns that we race on during the year, but it’s also one of my least favorites,” said Gordon. “It’s such a short but really fast corner. When you hit it right, it's just so incredible and such a great feeling. “It's such a thrill to go through there.
“But when you hit it wrong you lose so much momentum and time, and you're hitting the steering wheel because you messed it up.”
No. 5 Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota)
“Pocono is really unlike any other track,” Hamlin said. “The turns all have their own characteristics, but they are all relatively flat and those are the kinds of corners that I feel I am the best on. Turn one is a very wide sweeping corner, but it’s got a little bit of banking to it. So, you need to have a car that basically will stay up in the banking. The second corner, the tunnel turn, is very flat and it’s very fast. That’s really where you can gain a lot of time on guys--it drives a lot like a road course corner. And the other corner is like a short track--almost like Phoenix in turns three and four -- it’s very flat and very wide and it comes out sweeping to the long straightaway. It’s a lot like a mixture of different race tracks, a track that rewards a guy who is very smooth on corner entry and I think that plays into my strengths.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Chevy)—NASCAR’s most popular driver
"Pocono is one of the more difficult tracks we go to because all three of the corners are so different, Earnhardt said “The tunnel turn (Turn 2) is probably the most challenging corner of the year."
Kurt Busch (No. 2 Dodge)—“The Charlotte Sweeper”
“At Pocono, you can pit and not lose a lap and that’s rare on a race track," Busch said. "That’s where you’ll see some of the guys and the (pit) window that they’re trying to stretch. With this green-white-checkered situation now, fuel (mileage) is more of an issue because you never know when the race is going to end; they’re so many extra laps. You just have to play the strategy right and just feel comfortable and confident in the decision that you make.”
Photo credit: Dwight Drum @ Racetake.com