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)
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.

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.