Keys For Success — Pocono

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Pocono Raceway

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5-Hour Energy 500

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

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KEYS FOR SUCCESS: 5-HOUR ENERGY 500

LONG POND, Pa. (Saturday, June 11, 2011) – Each race weekend, selected Dodge Motorsports engineers, Penske Racing engineers and crew chiefs, drivers or engine specialists give their insight on the ‘Keys for Success’ for the upcoming race. This week, Travis Geisler, competition director for Penske Racing, provides the keys for Sunday’s Sprint Cup race.

Track: Pocono Raceway (Race 14 of 36 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series)

Race: 5-Hour Energy 500 (200 laps / 500 miles)

Trivia Question: There have been 66 Sprint Cup races at Pocono Raceway. The first was in 1974. Of the 66 races, have many have been shortened due to weather. (Answer Below)

TRAVIS GEISLER (Competition Director – Penske Racing)

Strategy: “I don’t think there’s really one key. This place is so unique, it takes a few different things to put it together. Obviously you have to have good strategy. Track position is so hard to get here. Once everybody spreads out, you spread out so far it’s hard to pass a bunch. I think doing the right things on pit road is important, having good stops. It’s like a road course as far as fuel mileage goes. It’s balancing how aggressive we want to be with shifting; we haven’t done that for a while here at Pocono.”

Shifting: “The new rule package with third gear, I think we can be aggressive and get some speed out of the car, but we have to be careful with how much heat we’re generating, The reason that’s kind of an issue, fourth (gear) is a straight-through drive in these transmissions. In third, you have a lot more moving pieces and generate a lot more heat.”

Engine: “You have to have an engine tough enough to handle 500 miles here at a really high RPM range.”

Restarts: “Restarts are going to be tough, especially with the third-gear change. Third used to be a 128, so when you went to it, you had some gear left. Now it’s a 114, you’ve lost a lot of torque. Drivers will have to figure out how to get that jump. If you can get a good restart and get that pull coming down, there’s a long way after that start-finish line to get some work done.”

Tires: Obviously, we’d like to get some rubber down on the track. In general, this tire has been good. It’s the same tire we’ve had here for three years.”

Play The Race Backwards: “Teams start playing the race backwards as early as halfway. You start calculating when do you want to make that last stop, look at your mileages from earlier in the day, how hard can I push it in that fuel window, how many cautions do I think we’ll have in the last cycle. Just as it’s been in most of the races this year, pit strategy is important.”

Answer to trivia question: Five.

1974 – Pocono – 480 miles – Richard Petty (only one race in 1974)

1986 – Pocono 2 – 375 miles – Tim Richmond

1991 – Pocono 2 – 448 miles – Rusty Wallace

2002 – Pocono 2 – 438 miles – Bill Elliott

2007 – Pocono 1 – 265 miles – Jeff Gordon

Note: Richard Petty and Bill Elliott drove a Dodge.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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