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Should Pocono remain on the NASCAR schedule?

By admin | August 8, 2011

By Richard Allen


In recent days and weeks, tracks which ought to be or ought not to be on the schedules of NASCAR’s top divisions has been the subject of debate and speculation. The announcement that the Nashville SuperSpeedway has essentially been closed along with low attendance at other facilities and traffic nightmares in Kentucky have brought a number of venues into question.

After Sunday’s Good Sam RV Insurance 500 at the Pocono Raceway and the events surrounding the weekend, it seems it’s time to discuss that track’s worthiness to be among those hosting NASCAR’s highest division.

There are a number of factors that go into this discussion. The quality of the races held at the facility is certainly a major issue. Also, attendance, logistics and location, track safety and amenities must be weighed as well.

First to be considered as far as the discussion of whether Pocono is Sprint Cup worthy is the quality of the races. On Sunday evening I asked my Facebook and Twitter followers to offer words to describe the race of that day. None of the responses were positive, not even one. Boring, too long, snoozer, wake me up with 20 to go, fell asleep twice and follow the leader were among the responses given.

The ownership of the track and NASCAR have doggedly stood by the 500 mile distance for these races even though the description of too long is almost always used here. Inevitably, cars get strung out very shortly after the start or restarts and seemingly just log laps until the next caution or pit stop. Even for avid fans the racing proves to be an endurance test.

I very much enjoy the fact that my sons enjoy watch and want to watch and attend with me but on Sunday I told my eight year he needed to get up and play because no child of his age should subject himself to that much boredom.

As far as logistics and location the track has both pluses and minuses. A simple look around provided by the aerial views on television reveals that the facility is in a remote area of the eastern Pennsylvania mountains. Depending on personal preference, that can be a good thing or a bad thing as far as the fans are concerned. However, as far as NASCAR is concerned the most important aspect of the Pocono Raceway’s location is that it is relatively close to the heavily populated cities of New York and Philadelphia, which offers the opportunity for exposure in those coveted markets.

But one issue that comes up as an unavoidable minus for this track is safety. It seems as if every trip to Pocono brings about some sort of safety issue. There were multiple instances of cars hitting an antiquated guardrail that once lined the inside portion of the track along the back stretch and tunnel turn areas. That problem was finally addressed after a hard crash involving Kurt Busch and Elliott Sadler in 2010.

Also last year, Kasey Kahne’s car went airborne and very nearly into some trees outside the speedway in a part of the track that unbelievably had never had a catch fence installed. This most recent time around, a car during the ARCA race on Sunday morning flew completely over a section of guardrail on the inside of the track near the entrance of turn one.

Aside from those issues, rain and fog seem to always play a role in the racing weekends in Pocono at some point.

This past weekend, Drs. Joseph and Rose Mattioli announced their retirement from the track. The couple were the original builders of the facility and were known to be good friends of NASCAR’s controlling France family. With the track’s founders now retired, is it time for the track to see some sort of change, whether that be the loss of a date or the shortening its races?

Topics: Articles |

16 Responses to “Should Pocono remain on the NASCAR schedule?”

  1. Russ Edwards Says:
    August 8th, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    While safety features may need to be upgraded, is the racing the fault of the track, or the current style of racing?

  2. zhills fan Says:
    August 9th, 2011 at 3:42 am

    As I stated before just wayyyyy to long a race.

  3. Charles Says:
    August 9th, 2011 at 6:14 am

    While the racing a Pocono sometimes not the greatest! I had just as soon see a Ponoco as Dover Delware, New Hampshire!

    This would be the perfect track to give incentive such as paying bonus points to lead laps! Its not just the track its the point system that creates the problem!

    Watched the prerace and points was on the drivers mind, Clint Boywer said he would be happy with top 5, some others said the same thing!

    Until Nascar starts realizing why we go to races, that to see a exciting race not the Chase, you can look for more of the same, not that cut off time is near it usually gets worse!

    Lets not shorten the race! Lets shorten the Chase!

  4. Chris Fiegler Says:
    August 9th, 2011 at 7:32 am

    Personally I think Pocono Raceway is a Terrible Speedway. Pocono Raceway is the Worst Speedway that I have been to. Has anybody ever been to Pocono Raceway?

  5. Phil Stigers Says:
    August 9th, 2011 at 8:31 am

    I know they have been around for years, but …. one race is enough and 400 miles is enough. It’s called Sprint Cup - not Marathon Cup.

  6. Bill B Says:
    August 9th, 2011 at 8:57 am

    I don’t even need to read the article to weigh in on this one….
    Yes, there should be ONE 500 mile race per year at Pocono.

  7. Frank Says:
    August 9th, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Most races are a snooze fest anymore not just Pocono.

  8. Michael in SoCal Says:
    August 9th, 2011 at 10:46 am

    I agree with the one race sentiment. And I think 400 miles is enough for Pocono, and realistically, for most races. The cars are sturdy enough that 500 miles (even 600 miles at Charlotte) doesn’t stress the engines anymore.

  9. Michael in SoCal Says:
    August 9th, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Does IndyCar race at Pocono? If not, why not? Does anyone know?

  10. Tank Whalen Says:
    August 9th, 2011 at 11:21 am

    There are 2 solutions that I see can make for better racing at this boring track. First slap some sort of restrictor plate on the cars to keep them bunched together. (I can hear the drivers complaining already.) Even the 2 car draft would be more exciting than this single file nonsense. Same goes for Indy and California. Second, reconfigure the corners. Variable banking so the drivers can use different line to try and pass. Of course the track ownership won’t spend the money to do that, they haven’t spent a dime on the place since it opened. The scoring tower is a perfect example, come on 8 positions on a scoring tower!! I bet they don’t even rebuild the flag stand for next year. What a joke of a facility.

  11. Jon in ATL Says:
    August 9th, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    Re: Tank Whalen Have you even visited the “joke of a facility”? Or are you one of the Sunday Couch Brigade. Having worked there twice a year since ‘05 I can assure you the Mattioli family (excellent people and strong supporters of stockcar racing!) has spent a few dimes there in just my time. Multiple grooves? Dude - we passed (and got passed…) top and bottom in all three in the ARCA race. It’s up to YOU to set up your car to work there. Pocono is a beautiful, historic place!
    All that said - I wish they’d bulldoze it and clone Iowa there.

  12. Mr. Tony Geinzer Says:
    August 9th, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    I find Pocono is a swift example of a venue that needs to free itself of its dates as it looks more lost than before and sadly, I would welcome Newton and Road America to Sprint Cup and try to ask real questions, as in Why Dover’s Lost $ like it is not funny and maybe why a Rockingham needs at least a K and N Date.

  13. Jesse Says:
    August 9th, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    What a dump.

  14. Steve Says:
    August 9th, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    If you don’t like the length of the race, then turn it on later. I am so sick of people bitching about race length. I like the length of the races because I understand what’s going on during the race and it interests me. This whole article is ridiculous. I think the writer should go sit in the stands before you say they are empty. Also all safety issues are addressed as they are presented and never ignored. Myself and other friends of mine go to every pocono race weekend as well as other tracks during they year. To me it sounds like your topics for writing are empty and not based on experience. You can find something to bitch about anywhere you go if you want to but its about the support of the sport. This is the last article on this page I waste my time reading….

  15. Kevin Says:
    August 9th, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    Just responding to a few of the comments and the story.
    1. No indycar does not race there. As to why i dont know. I have seen clips of some of the old CART races there and it infuriates me how they dont race there.
    2. One race 400 miles. Period
    3.two words. progressive banking
    4. Put a catch fence on the inside wall in turn one. Thats a death trap just waiting to snap.
    5. The score board is a joke. 8… Really? The old towers at michigan had more than that.
    6. Put a restrictor plate on the frikkin cars there so they can bunch so i wont have to painfully learned that i only sleqpt through 200 miles of racing AND a 2 plus hour rain delay.
    7. Give the fall date too the fairgrounds track in nashville (now that would be a chase deciding rqce in its own right)

  16. Michael in SoCal Says:
    August 11th, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Thanks Kevin - I looked up some info, and apparently Pocono is too bumpy for the Indy Car series to race there, which is a shame - the track is perfect for downforce-heavy cars like Indy Cars.