It’s that time of year when NASCAR and ARCA Racing fans can use the words “Tricky Triangle” in a conversation without fear. Yes, it’s time for drivers of the two racing series to take on Pocono Raceway and its unique three turn design. It’s possibly one of the most exciting races of the year that often seems to be one of the most forgotten.
I don’t know why this happens but if you talk to NASCAR and ARCA Racing Series fans about favorite tracks a couple come up almost all of the time. You’ll hear Talladega, Bristol, Daytona, Charlotte, Martinsville, and a few more. You hardly ever hear people toss in Pocono for some reason. I can’t figure this out because Pocono is probably one of my favorite races of the year.
First, let me explain what Pocono is for those who may not know. At the same time I’m going to plead my case for why Pocono is a must see race for fans. The three turns is the reason for the term triangle. That’s pretty simple to figure out. The tricky part is harder to explain. It’s tricky in the sense that the turns are sharp and wide as well as narrow and sweeping. The backstretch is actually a drag strip in the form of a superspeedway.
In addition the track offers changes in elevation coming off the turns that mimic being stuck in an elevator that drops a couple of stories. Here’s some numbers from NBC Sports to mull over. The track is a 2.5-mile triangle / oval. The three different turns all have their own degree of banking. Turn one is 14 degrees, turn two is just 8 degrees and then you end up finishing with turn three at only 6 degrees.
Secondly, let me say that the term tricky also applies to not only the track but also the car set-up. Try thinking in terms of being a crew chief and having to decide if you are setting your car up for a superspeedway with high banked turns, or a medium cookie cutter track with turns and different degrees of banking. Heck, toss in the banking of a track like Bristol with the backstretch of Talladega. Now add in pit location, fuel concerns, and more.
Things get tricky! Even professional drivers spend time scratching their heads trying to figure out the track. Just ask a driver that has over 40 starts at Pocono about trying to figure out the "Tricky Triangle." Here's a thought from ten time ARCA Racing Champion Frank Kimmel.
“I think it’s got everything. It’s so different from anywhere else we go,” Kimmel said. “All the turns are different yet it’s really fast. It gives you superspeedway speeds. All the straightaways are long, so you do a lot of passing down the straightaways, which, in turn, makes the corners so critical. You’ve got to get off the turns good to carry the right momentum to get down the long straightaways, and then beat him to the next corner. It’s an interesting place.”
Another great thing about Pocono is that it’s one of the weekends when both NASCAR and ARCA run at the same track on the same weekend. This gives fans a chance to check out both series away from their normal shared settings at facilities such as Daytona, Talladega, Michigan, and Chicago.