So the time is now, qualifying for the Pocono IndyCar 400 is hours away. Who will walk away the 1st pole winner since Brazilian legend, Emerson Fittipaldi turned an average of 211.715 MPH the current all time Pocono track record. With Marco Andretti turning a lap over 220 MPH on July 4th, this record seems destined to be shattered. But will Marco be the man to do this?
One of the biggest issues drivers face is how to set-up for such a one of a kind facility. Obviously, being fastest off of three for qualifying would be best. Although entry into the first turn is perhaps the most challenging of any track this generation of open wheel heroes have ever faced. And it wasn’t any kinder to the greatest IndyCar pilots of all-time. Johnny Rutherford was bitten by turn one in 1982, and 1987. His 1982 accident left nearly nothing but Johnny intact.
In 1987, the field on a three wide start race into the first turn. While the cars up front sort themselves out, back markers run into trouble and each other quickly. Later in the race, turn one claims one of the most iconic drivers to ever grace the Tricky Triangle, Mario Andretti. In his crash, it shows just how hard it will be on driver and machine.
I do find it interesting, that the drivers keep writing off the tunnel turn (aka, T2). While it is more famous for biting stock car drivers, it is not unlikely to seriously pose danger for any open wheel driver. Just know that should any car suddenly spin in or just past the tunnel turn, they may stack up and fly fast. Also, while passing is possible in all turns, (contrary to what some may think), it is not well advised and can be very tricky in the tunnel turn. If you just touch there, look out! I personally feel many drivers seem to be not taking the tunnel turn serious enough, I understand they are the best out there, but T1 is not the only crazy turn, they have three here.
What will really make qualifying interesting, is how hard it can be to have two consistent lighting fast laps. It is possible the fastest car may post the fastest lap speed, only to follow it with an error on the next lap that relegates them in starting order. Arguably, qualifying at “The Pocono” (as Sato calls it), may be harder for many than Indianapolis. Sure the Brickyard has more history, and money on the line, but you can have a rhythm around there. This is three different turns on a single lap, what works in one turn, may hurt in another. Don’t be shocked for a slower car upsetting faster drivers.
Sadly this will not be televised due to ESPN/ABC not airing IndyCar qualifying at Pocono. I will try my best to live tweet from the battle for Pocono’s pole. I have had some issues with my wireless data connection at Pocono. But there will be articles live from Pocono after qualifying and any other major news that may break at Pocono this weekend. You can follow me on Twitter @SpikeRogan.