Open-wheel Triple Crown traditionalists, rejoice.
Today, Pocono Raceway announced that starting next year, their 4th of July weekend IndyCar Series event will stretch an additional 100 miles (40 laps) to become the Pocono INDYCAR 500 Fueled by Sunoco.
That means all three legs of the Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Triple Crown – Indianapolis, Pocono and Fontana – will be 500-mile events (this past year’s IndyCar revival at Pocono was a 400-miler).
“I’m very excited about these changes for 2014,” Pocono president/CEO Brandon Igdalsky said in a statement. “After last year’s IndyCar Series race, droves of open-wheel fans immediately took to our social media channels, sent emails, called us to let us know they wanted more.
“The fans spoke, we listened and we made some changes. The one thing not changing next season, however, will be the ticket prices to see these great, competitive events.”
IndyCar’s return to Pocono this past July may not have been the most exciting oval race in series history, but it wasn’t a stinker, either – and it can be argued that this race had as big an impact on the season as any other.
Scott Dixon took the checkered flag in a 1-2-3 finish for Chip Ganassi Racing, and that set him off on a three-race win streak that signaled his challenge to Helio Castroneves for the championship. Last weekend, you saw the final result.
“I think this is really exciting for Pocono, the drivers and all the Indy car fans out there,” Dixon said in his own statement. “It will certainly change the race strategy at Pocono next year, for sure. This year’s race was highly competitive and the addition of 100 miles is going to make it even better.”
As a former St. Louis area resident that got his first taste of live NASCAR racing at Gateway Motorsports Park, I happily admit that I’m pleased as punch about this next bit of news.
The egg-shaped 1.25-mile oval outside the Gateway City shall return to the NASCAR ranks next season, as the Camping World Truck Series will make a stop there as part of its 2014 schedule.
In its previous life as Dover Motorsports-owned Gateway International Raceway, the track hosted NASCAR Busch (now Nationwide) and Truck Series events plus CART and the Indy Racing League on the open-wheel side.
Also coming back to the Trucks schedule is New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which will host both the Trucks and Sprint Cup for its September 2014 NASCAR weekend.
Here’s the full 22-race schedule for the Trucks in 2014: