The only driver of those testing an IndyCar at Pocono Raceway with prior experience at the track was Dario Franchitti, who raced in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car there in 2008. Not that he’d be privy to giving away any secrets.
“No, they haven’t. I wouldn’t tell them anyway!” Franchitti joked to the assembled press when asked whether the other drivers were asking for advice.
The track has been repaved and had other safety improvements made since that time.
“No, the difference from being here in 2008 is remarkable,” he said. “This was a bumpy old place before. I don’t need to tell you guys that. Now it’s very, very smooth. There’s obviously been a great deal of investment in the track, the SAFER barrier in different places, as well. That’s really allowed us as IndyCar as a group to come back here. It’s very much appreciated. All those investments have been made. I said at the time to run an IndyCar around here would be a blast, and it is.”
Couple in the night-and-day car difference and it was pretty much all new for Franchitti.
“It feels like a different track,” he said. “Going down the straight, any straight this length, is going to feel long. When you turn into turn one here wide open, just keep it flat, the car compresses, all those Gs build up, it is a helluva feeling.
“The tunnel turn is probably the most similar car-to-car. We’re still I think 20 miles an hour quicker, 30 miles an hour quicker in the IndyCar. But Turn 3, I mean, as Will (Power) said, you’re going through there wide open right now, which defies logic really when you consider we have Indianapolis spec wings on the car.”
Two nightmare weekends have seen two DNFs to start the IndyCar season, although Franchitti was pleased with the Target Chip Ganassi Racing team’s improvements in Barber as a whole. He inherited the pole position at Long Beach a year ago when Ryan Briscoe, the fastest qualifier, took a 10-spot grid penalty for an unapproved engine change.