Mark Martin leads first day of Pocono testing

Mark Martin, driver of the #55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota returns to the garage during NASCAR testing for the new track surface at Pocono Raceway on June 6, 2012 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Thirty six NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers got their first chance to turn laps on the newly resurfaced 2.5 mile Pocono Raceway Wednesday and all gave the new surface a passing grade.  The challenging track featuring three different turns and three straightaways at varying distances around its 2.5 miles – received a new coat of asphalt for the first time since 1995 during a paving project that began last September and ended this spring.

“They did a great job; (the) track was really nice and smooth (with) good grip,” said four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon, a five-time winner at Pocono. “We have had some repaves where it is a handful and pretty slick. That was not the case at all today.”

Michael Waltrip Racing driver Mark Martin put down the fastest lap of the session, which started in the afternoon. Martin’s speed of 175.380 mph bettered the top practice speed from last August’s race at Pocono – 170.026 mph by Ryan Newman. In all, 33 drivers eclipsed Newman’s 2011 number. Paul Menard put down 61 laps, most among all drivers. MORE>>


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