What works for the race doesn’t work for qualifying at Pocono

Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota stands in the garage during testing for the new track surface at Pocono Raceway on June 7, 2012 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for NASCAR)

LONG POND, Pa. — At no other race track are qualifying and race setups more radically different from each other than they are at Pocono Raceway.

Why? Because the 2.5-mile triangular track has three vastly different corners. For qualifying, crew chiefs have to reach a compromise that works for all three turns, but in race trim, it’s advantageous to nail Turn 3 at the expense of the others.

“Getting ready to qualify, you can’t give up any (of the corners),” Martin Truex Jr. said. “You have to be fast through all the turns. If you give up half a second in one of them, you’re not going to gain it back in the other two. You really have to do a good job compromising. . . .

“In the race, I still feel like getting off Turn 3 is probably the most important. That’s the corner that leads onto the longest straightaway, where you can do the most passing — or lose the most spots by getting passed. So that’s probably the most important for the race. But to be fast for (qualifying), you have to be fast in all three.”

In Saturday’s qualifying lap, Truex lost momentum off Turn 1 and will start 23rd in the Pocono 400 presented by #NASCAR.


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