Everything you need to know for Sunday’s Pocono 400 at the “Tricky Triangle”

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The halfway point of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular season is upon us this weekend at Pocono Raceway, which hosts the Pocono 400 on Sunday afternoon.

Perhaps the most unique track on the Sprint Cup circuit, the triangular 2.5-mile oval boasts three turns of different radii, three different sets of banking (14 degrees in Turn 1, 8 degrees in Turn 2, 6 degrees in Turn 3), and three different lengths of straightaway.

All of these characteristics make finding a solid set-up all the way around very tough – or rather, tricky. This place is nicknamed the “Tricky Triangle,” after all.

Courtesy of NASCAR’s public relations and statistics teams, here’s everything you need to know for Round 14 of the 2014 Sprint Cup championship…

POCONO-SPECIFIC STATISTICS

Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Ford)
· One win, three top fives, six top 10s
· Average finish of 16.4
· Average Running Position of 14.2, ninth-best
· Driver Rating of 88.1, 12th-best
· 97 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
· 1,434 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 161.042 mph, 12th-fastest
· 2,221 Laps in the Top 15 (67.5%), seventh-most
· 711 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), sixth-most

Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet)
· Two wins, 10 top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 15.2
· Average Running Position of 10.6, third-best
· Driver Rating of 104.7, third-best
· 306 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 161.616 mph, third-fastest
· 2,378 Laps in the Top 15 (75.9%), fifth-most
· 674 Quality Passes, ninth-most

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet)
· Seven top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 16.3
· Average Running Position of 14.8, 12th-best
· Driver Rating of 89.1, 11th-best
· 63 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 161.073 mph, 10th-fastest
· 1,995 Laps in the Top 15 (60.6%), 11th-most

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Kellogg’s/Cheez-It Ford)
· Two wins, five top fives, eight top 10s
· Average finish of 13.3
· Average Running Position of 14.4, 10th-best
· Driver Rating of 97.3, sixth-best
· 176 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 161.300 mph, sixth-fastest
· 2,117 Laps in the Top 15 (64.3%), eighth-most
· 663 Quality Passes, 10th-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet)
· Six wins, 19 top fives, 29 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 10.0
· Average Running Position of 10.3, second-best
· Driver Rating of 101.1, fourth-best
· 125 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
· 1,396 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 161.473 mph, fourth-fastest
· 2,481 Laps in the Top 15 (75.4%), third-most
· 778 Quality Passes, third-most

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota)
· Four wins, eight top fives, 10 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 12.6
· Average Running Position of 11.0, fifth-best
· Driver Rating of 109.1, second-best
· Series-high 434 Fastest Laps Run
· Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 161.830 mph
· 2,257 Laps in the Top 15 (78.2%), sixth-most

Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet)
· Five top fives, nine top 10s
· Average finish of 14.0
· Average Running Position of 14.1, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 89.6, ninth-best
· 1,564 Green Flag Passes, second-most
· 2,042 Laps in the Top 15 (62.0%), 10th-most
· 712 Quality Passes, fifth-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet)
· Three wins, 10 top fives, 16 top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 8.8
· Series-best Average Running Position of 9.7
· Series-best Driver Rating of 109.3
· 271 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 161.731 mph, second-fastest
· Series-high 2,610 Laps in the Top 15 (79.3%)
· 775 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet)
· Two wins, five top fives, seven top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 17.0
· Average Running Position of 14.6, 11th-best
· Driver Rating of 92.8, eighth-best
· 296 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· 1,407 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 161.404 mph, fifth-fastest
· 1,988 Laps in the Top 15 (60.4%), 12th-most
· 701 Quality Passes, eighth-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota)
· Three top fives, 10 top 10s
· Average finish of 14.9
· Average Running Position of 13.4, seventh-best
· Driver Rating of 89.6, 10th-best
· 1,405 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 161.143 mph, ninth-fastest
· 706 Quality Passes, seventh-most

Ryan Newman (No. 31 WIX Filters Chevrolet)
· One win, nine top fives, 12 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 11.7
· Average Running Position of 11.0, fourth-best
· Driver Rating of 96.4, seventh-best
· 1,409 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 161.157 mph, eighth-fastest
· 2,527 Laps in the Top 15 (76.8%), second-most
· Series-high 823 Quality Passes

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Mobil 1 / Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet)
· Two wins, 12 top fives, 22 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 11.0
· Average Running Position of 11.9, sixth-best
· Driver Rating of 98.5, fifth-best
· 83 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
· 1,524 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 161.293 mph, seventh-fastest
· 2,416 Laps in the Top 15 (73.4%), fourth-most
· 792 Quality Passes, second-most

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Pocono Raceway Data
Season Race #: 14 of 36 (06-08-14)
Track Size: 2.5-miles
Banking/Turn 1: 14 degrees
Banking/Turn 2: 8 degrees
Banking/Turn 3: 6 degrees
Frontstretch Length: 3,740 feet
Backstretch Length: 3,055 feet
Shortstretch Length: 1,780 feet
Race Length: 160 laps / 400 miles

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Pocono
Jimmie Johnson…………………… 109.3
Denny Hamlin………………………. 109.1
Kurt Busch………………………….. 104.7
Jeff Gordon………………………… 101.1
Tony Stewart…………………………. 98.5
Carl Edwards………………………… 97.3
Ryan Newman……………………….. 96.4
Kasey Kahne………………………… 92.8
Kevin Harvick………………………… 89.6
Matt Kenseth………………………… 89.6
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (18 total) among active drivers at Pocono Raceway.

Qualifying/Race Data
2013 Coors Light Pole winner: None due to weather
2013 race winner: Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 144.202 mph, (02:46:26), 06-09-13
Track qualifying record: Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 180.545 mph, 49.819 secs. 08-04-13
Track race record: Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 145.384 mph, (03:26:21), 06-12-11

Pocono Raceway History
· Opened in 1968 as a three-quarter-mile track, Pocono Raceway held the first race on the 2.5-mile track in 1971.
· The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was in 1974 – won by Richard Petty, Dodge, 115.593 mph, 08/04/1974.
· The 2.5-mile track was repaved during the fall of 2011.

Pocono Raceway Notebook
· There have been 72 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Pocono Raceway, one race from 1974 through 1981, and two per year since. This marks the 40th anniversary of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing at Pocono.
· 2012 marked the first season the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono were scheduled for 400 miles. Prior to 2012 all NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races were 500 miles at Pocono Raceway.
· 315 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway; 221 in more than one.
· Ricky Rudd leads the series in starts at Pocono with 55. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 42 starts.
· Buddy Baker won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Pocono in 1974 with a speed of 144.122 mph.
· 39 drivers have Coors Light poles at Pocono, led by Bill Elliott and Ken Schrader with five each; Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers with three.
· Five drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Pocono. Bill Elliott holds the record for most consecutive poles at Pocono with three; fall 1984 and both races in 1985.
· Two active drivers have posted consecutive Coors Light poles at Pocono: Denny Hamlin (2006 sweep) and Joey Logano (fall 2011 and spring 2012).
· Youngest Pocono pole winner: Joey Logano (08/07/2011 – 21 years, 2 months, 14 days).
· Oldest Pocono pole winner: David Pearson (06/10/1984 – 49 years, 5 months, 19 days).

· 31 different drivers have won at Pocono Raceway, led by Jeff Gordon with six wins.
· Six drivers have posted consecutive wins at Pocono Raceway, including three consecutive by Bobby Allison (1982 sweep and spring 1983) and Tim Richmond (1986 sweep and spring 1987).
· Youngest Pocono winner: Joey Logano (06/10/2012 – 22 years, 0 months, 17 days).
· Oldest Pocono winner: Harry Gant (06/17/1990 – 50 years, 5 months, 7 days).
· Hendrick Motorsportshas the most wins at Pocono in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 15: Jeff Gordon (six), Tim Richmond (three), Jimmie Johnson (three), Kasey Kahne (one), Geoff Bodine (one) and Terry Labonte (one) – including the last three consecutively.
· Eight different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Pocono; led by Chevrolet with 28 victories; followed by Ford with 21.
· 15 of the 72 (20.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Jimmie Johnson (June, 2013).
· The Coors Light pole position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (15) than any other starting position at Pocono Raceway.
· 24 of the 72 (33.3%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono have been won from the front row: 15 from the pole and nine from second-place.
· 50 of the 72 (69.4%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Pocono have been won from a top-10 starting position.
· Five of the 72 (6.9%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
· The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Pocono was 29th, by Carl Edwards in the spring of 2005.
· Mark Martin leads the series in runner-up finishes at Pocono with seven; followed by Jeff Gordon with six.
· Mark Martin leads the series in top-five finishes at Pocono with 20; followed by Jeff Gordon with 19.
· Mark Martin leads the series in top-10 finishes at Pocono with 34; followed by Jeff Gordon with 29.
· Denny Hamlin leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Pocono with a 6.500.
· Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Pocono with a 8.833.
· Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards are the only two active drivers towin at Pocono in their first appearances.
· Joe Nemechek leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Pocono without visiting Victory Lane at 38; followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth with 28.
· Since the advent of electronic scoring in 1993 the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Pocono Raceway was the July 23, 2000 race won by Rusty Wallace over Jeff Burton with a MOV of 0.126 second.
· There have been three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races resulting with a green-white-checkered finish at Pocono Raceway (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): spring of 2005 (200/201); fall of 2005 (200/203); spring of 2010 (200/204).
· Six of the 72 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono Raceway have been shortened due to weather conditions; the most recent was the event on 8/5/2012.
· Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Pocono Raceway five times; most recently the spring of 2013.
· Casey Mears (8/1/2004) posted his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at Pocono Raceway.
· One active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver has posted his first career win at Pocono Raceway: Denny Hamlin (06/11/06).
· Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Pocono with 972 laps led in 42 starts.
· Two female drivers have competed at Pocono Raceway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Janet Guthrie and Danica Patrick.

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NASCAR in Pennsylvania
· There have been 105 NASCAR Sprint Cup races among nine tracks in Pennsylvania.

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· 141 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Pennsylvania.

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IMSA: Sebring Day 2 of two-day test notebook

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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Testing across several IMSA sanctioned series continued at Sebring International Raceway on Tuesday as preparations continue for next month’s events during the weekend of the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring.

Below are highlights from Day 2 of testing around the 3.74-mile road course.

Eurosport Racing Continues Work with Mazda Prototype Challenge Chassis

Teams in the Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda championship completed their second day of testing on Tuesday. Among them, Eurosport Racing continued their work with the only Mazda Prototype Challenge (MPC) entries in the field, in the hands of drivers Dr. Tim George (in the No. 24 entry) and Jon Brownson (in the No. 34).

“Right now, I’m driving by myself so we’re trying to make the car comfortable enough to last an hour and 45 minutes with just me in the car,” George said of their preparation efforts. “We’re trying to set up the car where it’s quick, yet it and can last, both the car and for me to make sure we don’t tire out, get fatigued and make mistakes.”

The 1 hour 45 minute window that George referenced represents the race times for the 2018 season, up considerably from last year’s sprint format that featured a pair of 45-minute races across a race weekend.

Though that change represents a drastic shift in driving philosophy, it is one that George welcomes.

“The new rules for the endurance races are great, I enjoy it a lot,” said George. “It gives you a chance to think through things differently with strategy. It also gives you a chance if you blow it…in a sprint race if you make a mistake you don’t get a chance to come back.”

Florida Drivers in Continental Tire Challenge Eager for Hometown Race at Sebring

A strong contingent of drivers from Florida are represented in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, and next month’s 12 Hours of Sebring weekend will see them compete on home soil.

“I grew up in Tallahassee and I live in Orlando now, so Sebring has been my home track since day one,” said Paul Holton, driver of the No. 76 Compass Racing McLaren GT4, which finished 14th at the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway. “I’ve spent a lot of time down here and really enjoy the place. It’s a nice, quaint little town not far from Orlando so it’s a quick, easy drive down for me.”

Fellow Floridian Ramin Abdolvahabi, a native of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and driver of the No. 09 Automatic Racing Aston Martin Vantage, revealed that, even though Sebring is only two hours from his hometown, this week’s test was his first time at the track in two years.

“I haven’t been here for two years, so coming back is like coming home,” he said. “It’s a fantastic track and it’s one of the iconic tracks in the world so being at Sebring – a small town, my hometown, welcoming – it’s fantastic. I went on the track a couple of times yesterday and it’s just like wearing an old shoe, it just fits and it’s fantastic. Hopefully, the race will go well and the weather will hold, so anyone who’s out there, come and see us!”

Frank Raso Trades in Airplanes for Porsches at Sebring

Several IMSA drivers boast “day jobs” outside of their racing gigs. Among them, Frank Raso’s work falls outside of ordinary jobs like doctor or lawyer. Rather, Raso flies airplanes for a living.

“I’m an airline pilot for a major airline,” said Raso, who tested the No. 10 Topp Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car at Sebring. “I’ve been flying for almost 30 years, and it’s allowed me, with all my time off and things like that to do this and fall back into racing again. I messed with it a little bit when I was younger, but it was, of course, expensive, so I got away from it for a while. I decided I wanted to get back into it in kind of my last couple of years before I get too old.”

Raso explained that the skills he practices while flying planes are more than transferable to his driving duties in a Porsche GT3 Cup car.

“Flying an airliner or flying any airplane, we have checklists, but everything is kind of done in order. It’s almost in a robot fashion type of a thing where you do this, you do this, you do this and you have to make sure you hit all your marks and fly the airplane with precision.

“So, when you get in these Cup cars, with no anti-lock brakes, no traction control, and no driver assist items, you have to make sure you hit your marks, when you’re accelerating, when you’re turning in. You have to be alert. It keeps your wits about you. The car can step out at any time. They’re a very difficult car to drive, but they’re a lot of fun.”
The 54-year-old Raso posted a best finish of fourth, on four separate occasions, in a part-time schedule during the 2017 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama season as a competitor in the Gold Cup class.
Newcomers Get Taste of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge
A number of new drivers got to sample Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge cars during the two days of testing at Sebring. Among them was amateur racer Scott Welham, who got his first taste of professional racing during the two-day outing at Sebring.
And he had a strong support system backing him up in the Kelly-Moss Road and Race team, the defending Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge champions with driver Jake Eidson.
“Here, you’ve got somebody that actually does coaching, data acquisition, track management – these are all separate people – plant manager, owner, a car-setup guy, you’ve got someone that bills you – which isn’t always a good thing, but you know, you just have that huge, huge support group that enables you to focus on driving,” Welham said of the team’s influence on his development over the two days.
IMSA’s next visit to Sebring will be for the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring on March 17.