Nascar Racing

Taking On The Tricky Triangle at Pocono Again from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Rusty Norman
There’s a reason why they call the track at Pocono “The Tricky Triangle.” Three different turns that have three different feels requiring three different setups but the most important one is probably Turn 3. That’s where the drivers need to be able to put the hammer down and take off down the long front straightaway. Of course at the end of that straight comes the first compromise in the setups and they have to be dialed in enough to negotiate Turn 1 without dragging the splitter and make the most of Turn 2 so they can once again make the most out of Turn 3. (If all of that sounds just a bit “tricky” to understand, then I think I’ve done a pretty good job of explaining the “Tricky Triangle.”)

The most heard “buzz word” when the Cup teams visited Pocono six weeks ago was the “unknowns” of what the race would be like because of the new track surface. This time however, at least from this fan’s view, it is the word “desperate.” Once again it seems that more than a few are “desperate” to take the win to either make their spot in the Chase more secure or put them back in contention for the Chase. Either way, several do need to win and a couple of them more than the rest.

A quick glance back at Indy shows not much has changed in the way of “racing luck” for either Carl Edwards or Jeff Gordon. When it comes right down to it, if it can go wrong it does go wrong for either one or both. When a team has the kind of luck these two have had over the course of a season, it is easy to talk about the crew chiefs and the cars but hard to see the truth of why and how they are where they are.

This fan would like to just mention a few facts that seem to be ignored by many. One is where the two have been qualifying on a weekly basis. Both Carl and Jeff have struggled in qualifying most of the season. When they do qualify up near the front it seems something always happens to put them back in the pack and having to fight back to the front for some type of respectable finish.

We don’t have to look very far back to see an example of what I suggest here. Actually, no further than last weeks race at Indy. Carl Edwards qualified on the front row and Jeff Gordon in the fifth. Early in the race, Edwards had an electrical problem that put him a few laps down with a finishing spot of 29th. Jeff Gordon was probably the only car on the track that might have been able to give Jimmie Johnson a run for his money, but started almost every restart on the outside and lost several spots before he could move down to the inside and move forward. From my view, both of these situations have been typical for the two almost all season.

So… what am I saying?? Well… pretty much what I’ve said before. “If it weren’t for bad luck…” (and I’m sure you know the rest.”)

I would like to insert a couple of things here, though. Several years back, (and at the Pocono track) Jeff Gordon was having a very good year. It seemed he could do no wrong and the same year at the Pocono track, his car was running hot in the final laps and was called “Gordon’s Steamer” by many. They said he would never make it to the end but he did and took home the trophy. That was just one of several incidences that year that he may not have had the best car but finished at, or near the front. Even he commented on how they weren’t dominating but they were winning and finishing well.

Carl Edwards had a very consistent year last year but only won one race. Tony Stewart won five of the last ten races to tie Carl for the Cup Championship but won because of the number of wins. Last year, Carl had good “racing luck”, but this year has had the reverse.

Without trying to confuse anyone, what I’m saying is that in racing, you have good years and bad years and sometimes, no matter how hard you try, things just don’t seem to go your way. It happens more than many may be willing to admit and to more than many may think. It is my opinion, Carl Edwards and Jeff Gordon are having one of those years all racers face and for all of their efforts, things just don’t go their way. How long it lasts is anyone’s guess but, it could all change for them this weekend, (at least I’m sure that’s what they and their fans hope for, anyway.)

From this fan’s view, I expect several things to happen. I believe this will be a fuel mileage race and I expect tire strategy to play a big part in which driver takes the checkered flag first. There will be no room for mistakes on pit road from either the crews or the drivers and, as always, track position will be very important.

Some of the stronger performers at Pocono also qualified well for starting this race, but of course, there is more to ending up in Victory Lane than just one fast lap in qualifying. I’m sure I ‘m not telling you anything you don’t know when I say that. It will take consistently turning fast lap times all race long and making no mistakes, (or at least the fewest) to win this one.

W hen it comes right down to it, this fan thinks the winner will come from somewhere in the 8th to the 28th positions and I am thinking it will be someone few expect. (If I told you who it was going to be, it would take all of the drama out of it for you when I was proved right, so … )

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 4, 2012 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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By Rusty Norman

Amateur writer, NASCAR Fan, musician and former local Stock Car racer.