LONG POND - Newness is the word here at Pocono International Raceway.
Most of the focus has been on the repaved 2-1/2 mile tri-oval, but this is also the first Sprint Cup race that NASCAR and Twitter have gone live with the first-of-its-kind digital partnership in Pocono. And most of the drivers are on board and it should be interesting to see what they'll do to give us an inside look at what goes on during race weekend here for the Pocono 400.
Twitter.com/#NASCAR will give us the best Tweets and photos from NASCAR insiders in an effort to bring the behind-the-scenes story to life for fans during NASCAR race weekends. The page includes Tweets from drivers, pit crew members, families, media, NASCAR representatives and other industry constituencies like race tracks and sponsors. Fans also have an opportunity to see their Tweets featured.
Behind-the-scenes photos, exclusive content and innovative and original Tweets will likely have the best chance of being featured on this new live event page.
"Twitter brings fans closer to the sports and moments they're most passionate about," said Jack Dorsey, co-founder and executive chairman at Twitter. "The innovation of the NASCAR organization, the spirit of the fans, and the personalities of the drivers all shine on Twitter, making NASCAR a natural partner for us. Twitter.com/#NASCAR will offer fans an all-access pass to the race weekend action as it unfolds on the track, in the pit, in the garage and in the stands."
While currently up-and-running, Twitter.com/#NASCAR will be most active on race day before, after and in conjunction with the Pocono 400 Presented by #NASCAR from Pocono Raceway Sunday at 1 p.m.
"I think it's neat to be giving the fans more inside access to what's going on behind the scenes in a NASCAR race and to see more of the Tweets from the drivers and media members, crew guys, whoever involved with racing," Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota. "Ithink that's really cool for the fans to be able to see that, because most of the time, we have something interesting to say.
"I'll just be trying to Tweet as much as I possibly can, and keeping people updated and sending pictures out and stuff like that. I have fun doing that."
It's also the first of six races to be televised on TNT.
Kyle Petty, one of the TNT race analysts, feels that having fans interactive with what's going on live has both pros and cons.
"There's been so many times, whether I'm doing TNT, whether I'm doing SPEED, whatever I'm on, people are watching me on TV commenting about what I'm saying, calling me an idiot or liking what I say, whatever it may be," Petty said. "A lot of fans have questions that maybe we don't address sometimes in the booth. They want to know why this guy only changed two tires, or their favorite driver did this or that. Now they'll be able to find out."
Brad Keselowski tweeting at Daytona and how many followers that he gained just in that short period of time has sparked the NASCAR Twitter movement.
"Ithink the bad side and the downside is then you start to talk about what they're talking about on Twitter and not what they're doing on TV, and you can't get caught up in that, Petty said. "I don't think we can get caught up in that. We're there to do our job, and our job is to talk about the race and talk about Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon and Dale Jr. and guys like that and not get caught up on a conversation about Twitter or let Twitter drive the broadcast. I think we have to drive the broadcast."
PIT PASSES ... This Sunday's race couldn't be run without some tribute to the late Dr. Joseph Mattioli, the first at the track since his passing in January. Sam Bass did a tribute piece for Doc and that will appear on the cover of this weekend's program. Inside the program will be a seven page photo spread....The cars, both ARCA and Sprint Cup, will be running a commemorative decal and staff members will be wearing a commemorative pin. Both can be purchased at any of the Pocono Raceway booths....Fans entering the tunnel will see a sign that reads "Welcome to Doc's Place"....Mattioli opened Pocono as a three-quarter mile track in 1968. The first race on the 2.5-mile track was in 1971 and the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was in 1974....This will be the 69th NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono. There was one race from 1974 through 1981 and two per year since. This is the first the the race will be 400 miles. All previous races have been 500 miles....Buddy Baker won the first pole and there have been 38 different pole winners....The pole has been swept for both races in the same year only three times. Bill Elliott did it in 1985, Ken Schrader in 1993 and Denny Hamlin in 2006....Thirty different drivers have won races at Pocono, with Elliott and Jeff Gordon both winning five. Richard Petty holds the honor of winning the first NASCAR race at Pocono....Bobby Allison and Tim Richmond won three consecutive races here....