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 NASCARâ€™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 Sundayâ€™s Good Sam RV Insurance 500 at the Pocono Raceway and the events surrounding the weekend, it seems itâ€™s time to discuss that trackâ€™s worthiness to be among those hosting NASCARâ€™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 Racewayâ€™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 Kahneâ€™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 NASCARâ€™s controlling France family. With the trackâ€™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?
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