Friday, July 30, 2010
NASCAR returns to Pocono Raceway as the Sprint Cup Series and - for the first time - the Camping World Truck Series take on the Tricky Triangle this weekend. Meanwhile, the Nationwide Series makes its second annual appearance at Iowa Speedway.
Pocono is a different animal from the other tracks on the NASCAR circuit. The 2.5-mile triangle-shaped superspeedway has three sharp turns, all different from one another. Turn 1, with 14-degree banking, was described by Kurt Busch this week as being the bumpiest of the three. Turn 2, the famous "tunnel turn," has a banking of 8 degrees and is widely considered by the majority of drivers to be the most difficult. Turn 3 has 6-degree banking. Instructors with the Stockcar Racing Experience at Pocono will tell you Turn 3 is the most troublesome because as the flattest of the turns, it's easy for drivers to lose focus and "get lost" in the corner. Pocono's three straightaways are also unusual because each one is a different length.
The combination of the track's sharp, distinct turns and long, flat straightaways presents a challenge for crew chiefs. Making adjustments that work in all three corners is no easy feat. Fuel mileage has also been a factor at Pocono, such as last spring when Tony Stewart outlasted Greg Biffle and Jimmie Johnson to win his first race as owner/driver. And as any fan will tell you, Mother Nature has a history of raining on Pocono's parade. To see what the weather has in store for this weekend, check the always reliable forecast from meteorologist and race fan Brian Neudorff, aka NASCAR WX-MAN, at http://wx-man.com/NASCAR/.
The Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 Sprint Cup race is set for Sunday. Denny Hamlin has swept the last two Cup races here - can he pull off a three-peat?
The Camping World Truck Series makes its debut at Pocono for Saturday's Pocono Mountains 125. The event also marks the first time multi-truck qualifying will be used. According to the times set in final practice, the slowest truck will qualify first and the fastest will go out last. Trucks will be released at 25-second intervals; no drafting will be allowed. Many are curious to see how the trucks will fare at Pocono, as well as the new qualifying procedure. This weekend we will finally get the chance to see for ourselves.
The Nationwide Series heads to Iowa for Saturday's U.S. Cellular 250. The 0.875-mile tri-oval owned by Rusty Wallace was added to the series' schedule in 2009 and earned raves from drivers and fans alike. The track's banking varies between 12 and 14 degrees, allowing for more side-by-side racing. Brad Keselowski is defending race winner.
The following is a handy guide to track events and coverage this weekend at Pocono and Iowa (all times are in Eastern Standard Time. Events without a channel listed will not be televised):
Friday, July 30:
8 a.m. Truck Practice
12 noon Sprint Cup Practice, SPEED
1:30 p.m. NASCAR Live, SPEED
3 p.m. NASCAR Live, SPEED
3:30 p.m. Sprint Cup Qualifying, SPEED (reruns at 8 p.m. and 3 a.m.)
5 p.m. NASCAR Live, SPEED
5:30 p.m. Truck Final Practice, SPEED
5:30 p.m. Nationwide Practice
7 p.m. Trackside at Pocono, SPEED (reruns at 11 p.m.)
7 p.m. Nationwide Final Practice
Saturday, July 31:
9:30 a.m. Sprint Cup Practice, SPEED (starts at 9 a.m.)
10 a.m. Truck Qualifying, SPEED
11 a.m. Sprint Cup Final Practice, SPEED
12:30 p.m. NCWTS SetUp, SPEED (reruns at 10 p.m.)
1 p.m. Truck race at Pocono: Pocono Mountains 125, SPEED (reruns at 10:30 p.m.)
3 p.m. ARCA race at Pocono: Weis Markets 125, SPEED (reruns at 8 p.m.)
4 p.m. Nationwide Qualifying
5 p.m. NASCAR Performance, SPEED (reruns at 1 a.m.)
5:30 p.m. NASCAR Smarts, SPEED (reruns at 12:30 a.m.)
7 p.m. Nationwide Countdown, ESPN2
7:30 p.m. Nationwide race at Iowa: U.S. Cellular 250, ESPN2
Sunday, Aug. 1:
9 a.m. NASCAR Now, ESPN2
10 a.m. NASCAR RaceDay, SPEED
12 noon Sprint Cup Countdown, ESPN2
1 p.m. Sprint Cup race at Pocono: Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500, ESPN (reruns at 2 a.m. on ESPN2)
8 p.m. NASCAR Victory Lane, SPEED (reruns at 2 a.m. and 9 a.m. Monday)
12 a.m. NASCAR Now, ESPN2
Photo: Denny Hamlin does a burnout after winning the Pocono 500 in June 2010. (Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Readers: Would you rather see the overview of the track as a separate entry from the TV schedule in the future? Let us know in the comments below.