By David Morgan, Associate Editor
After hosting two races annually since the early 1980’s, Pocono Raceway downsized to just one race on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule this season – Sunday’s M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400.
With only three turns, instead of the four turns at all other ovals on the circuit, Pocono is definitely one of the most unique tracks on the schedule. The three turns all have differing banking with Turn 1 and its 14-degree banking modeled after the now-defunct Trenton Speedway, Turn 2 and its nine-degree banking modeled after Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Turn 3 and its six degree banking modeled after The Milwaukee Mile.
While Pocono has been chastised over the years for boring racing, these unique characteristics allow for speeds near 200 mph down each of the three straightaways and the wide frontstretch allows drivers to fan out four and even five-wide as they barrel towards Turn 1. With all these factors, many drivers consider Pocono a mix between a road course and an oval, setup-wise.
Whether that remains with the Next Gen car is still to be determined, given that the car has been a game changer at other tracks on the circuit in 2022.
By the Numbers
What: M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400, NASCAR Cup Series Race No. 21 of 36
Where: Pocono Raceway – Long Pond, Pennsylvania (First race: 1974)
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Network, 3:00 pm ET / MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Channel 90 (Second race: 3:30 pm ET Sunday on NBCSN)
Track Size: 2.5-mile tri-oval
Banking: 14 degrees (Turn 1), 9 degrees (Turn 2), 6 degrees (Turn 3)
Race Length: 160 laps, 400 miles
Stage Lengths: 30 laps, 65 laps, 65 laps
2021 Doubleheader Race 1 Winner: Alex Bowman – No. 48 Chevrolet (Started 13th, 16 laps led)
2021 Doubleheader Race 2 Winner: Kyle Busch – No. 18 Toyota (Started 19th, 30 laps led)
Track Qualifying Record: Kyle Larson – 8/3/2014 – 49.063 seconds, 183.438 mph
Top-10 Highest Driver Ratings at Pocono:
- Denny Hamlin – No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota – 107.1
- Kevin Harvick – No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford – 99.7
- Kurt Busch – No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota – 98.8
- Kyle Busch – No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota – 97.2
- Kyle Larson – No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet – 96.5
- Brad Keselowski – No. 6 Roush Fenway Keselowski Ford – 95.8
- William Byron – No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet – 94.4
- Chase Elliott – No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet – 92.7
- Erik Jones – No. 43…