Last year, Pocono Raceway was my first trip to an oval other than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Seeing the cars shoot across the backstretches between turns 2 and 3, from corner to corner, gives a unique perspective of the sheer speed produced in this sport. From our seats, the racing action was a bit lackluster between laps 40 and 160, but that is not to say that I was not in constant awe of the product at hand. It is no surprise to me that today held the fastest 500-mile race in history!
In having the entire track in sight, it was also intriguing to be able to gauge the degree to which momentum played a part. From lap one, it was easy to see that when a driver lost momentum, he REALLY lost momentum, and how each driver responded seemed to be the difference between the guys up front to the guys mid-pack. Juan Montoya and Carlos Munoz, most notably, were both drivers who would never back out of a move for position, regardless of how gutsy it may have been. I kept a close eye on Mikhail Aleshin throughout the race as well; he clearly had a fast car, but more often than I would have expected, he would back out of a run, and consequentially lose a position or two. While his weekend was more than impressive for one who had never seen the track, shades of the rookie in him may have cost a few positions.
Pocono Raceway inherently delivers an outstanding show simply due to its configuration. The pre-race weekend news gave all of us who love this track a scare. This event, in my eyes, is quickly becoming an asset to the series, and is the keystone of Indycar racing for us fans in the northeast. The fans are relaxed but enthusiastic, the track gives the drivers a terrific challenge, and the speeds are mind-blowing. Every aspect of the Pocono 500 deserves an A+, and I sincerely hope to be back again next year. Don’t give up on us yet, Mr. Igdalsky!
And for what it’s worth, I’d say that the crowd was more than decent!