Return of INDYCAR a success
BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS Charlie Kimball races his car to a second place finish for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Scott Dixon's 30th victory, Ganassi Racing sweeping the the top three spots, and Honda Engines bouncing back after a poor showing at Indianapolis were the obvious top storylines from Sunday's Pocono IZOD INDYCAR 400.
However, there is another subject that is flying under the radar from Sunday's race and that's the success of INDYCAR returning to Pocono.
Ever since their first Firestone tire test session back in early April it was easy to see that these cars and drivers were going to absolutely fly around "The Tricky Triangle." Third place finisher Dario Franchitti explained all weekend long how much fun he had racing at Pocono and the wild ride that the the track offers.
"It's just great to be back here at Pocono, it's just a wonderful track," said Franchitti. "Our cars are just bloody quick around here. When you come out of turn three, you just can't believe that you're able to carry that type of speed. The performance level of the car has been amazing."
The buzz surrounding the event was substantial and it showed on Sunday. A solid crowd was in attendance and although Pocono Raceway doesn't announce their attendance figures after a racing event the frontstretch grandstands, which holds around 77,000 fans looked to be about full.
The pure speed alone that INDYCAR brought to the track was impressive as well. Nazareth, PA native Marco Andretti set a track record for INDYCAR, running a lap of 221.273 mph at qualifying on Saturday. The previous mark was set by Emerson Fittipaldi in 1989 (211.715). To really understand how fast the INDYCAR machines are going around Pocono take a look at the comparison to NASCAR.
NASCAR driver Joey Logano set the track record in qualifying in June 2012 with a lap time of 179.598 mph, which is a difference of about 42 miles per hour.
Dixon and Franchitti's teammate Charlie Kimball, who rolled home second on the day also had some good things to say post race about Pocono.
"This is a great racetrack, great fans on a holiday weekend," said Kimball. "It's awesome to see that, the grandstands full, the infield full, and to see the line of traffic coming in this morning was pretty neat, especially after 24 years."
Franchitti was the only driver to ever run at Pocono before, when he did so in a NASCAR. Franchitti explained that driving a stock car and an INDYCAR around Pocono is two totally different experiences.
"What is the average speed here in a stock car, 170 average, 178?," said Franchitti. "And they were averaging 220 yesterday. It's completely different. When you go into turn one there, and it maybe gets a little bit loose, you've got to be so fast on the reaction to catch it, because everything happens so quickly. Turn three, there were times during that last stint, we were moving wide open through traffic through turn three with the whole car sliding and you look down and you're going 225 miles an hour and you're thinking, this is mind bending."
The atmosphere created by the return of INDYCAR looked to be a success throughout the whole weekend. As of now Pocono's contract with INDYCAR is for two more races in July over the next two years. If Sunday was any indication of what the future holds for both of these entities then the future certainly looks bright for INDYCAR racing at Pocono.