Excitement and anticipation have been building for this weekend’s return of Indy cars to Pocono Raceway after a nearly quarter-century absence.
Wednesday, that excitement level jumped up several more notches as officials of the IZOD IndyCar Series announced that three-wide starts would be implemented in Sunday’s race, as well as the season finale in October in Fontana, Calif.
“After having the opportunity to test at Pocono and a successful event at Auto Club Speedway last season, we were able to analyze track data and compare to our current start procedure for the Indianapolis 500,” IZOD IndyCar Series race director Beaux Barfield said in a story on IndyCar.com. “Given the speeds of our starts, the location of accelerations zones, the spacing between rows and the length of the frontstraights at each track, we have decided to move forward with a three-wide lineup for the initial starts.”
Part of the decision to add three-wide starts is due to the Fuzzy’s “Triple Crown” promotion, where one driver can win a $1 million bonus if he wins the Indianapolis 500, as well as Sunday’s Pocono 400 and the season-ending MavTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway on Oct. 19.
Tony Kanaan won the Indianapolis 500 and is among the favorites in Sunday’s race.
The IndyCar series typically only uses three-wide starts at Indianapolis, a long-standing tradition of the Indy 500 that began nearly 100 years ago in 1921.
However, the three-wide premise will only be used at the start of the Pocono and Fontana races. On green flag restarts, cars will be in their traditional single-file formation.
At 73 feet, Pocono’s frontstretch is the widest of the three tracks that will utilize the three-wide starts. Auto Club Speedway’s frontstretch is 53 feet wide, while Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s frontstretch is 50 feet wide, according to IndyCar.com.