When drivers hit Pocono Raceway the first week of June for the Pocono 400, the racetrack was a mess. The complaints were frequent and loud. Kyle Busch, who won the race, said afterwards he was hardly threatened.
“I passed one guy on the outside of Turn 3 and that was the only guy I needed to pass, I guess,” Busch said. “It was hard otherwise.”
Track officials listened and announced on Wednesday they are adding traction compound to all three corners for the second race of the year, the Gander RV 400 on July 28.
Pocono CEO Nick Igdalsky said in a statement that the drivers and fans will see a different race from the first one this year.
“The addition of the traction compound in all three turns should allow for more side-by-side racing in the corners with more lane choice for drivers,” Igdalsky said. “In the end, we want fans attending and watching on NBCSN to see a competitive and enjoyable race.”
Drivers were quick to praise the move. Denny Hamlin, who was an advocate for using traction compound, said it was long overdue.
“I’ve been an advocate for using traction compound at Pocono for a while now,” Hamlin said. “It gives us more lane options as drivers, and that’s what this current aero package needs. I think this will help put on a better show for the fans.”
Bryon, Johnson Continue Improvement
Justin Haley became the third youngest to win a Cup Series race last weekend at Daytona International Speedway. Teammates William Bryon and Jimmie Johnson finished right behind him. Bryon, who finished second, lamented the fact he was so close to his first victory.
“It’s kind of an unsettling feeling that close to the win,” Byron said. “If a few things went our way after that last caution, we might have won.”
Bryon added, though, he would rather win an event that wasn’t shortened by rain, like the Coke Zero Sugar 400 was.
“You don’t want to win that way as your first win, I guess,” Byron said. “Obviously, a win is a win. I would take it that way. It’s maybe not the prettiest way to do it, but I’ll take it.”
Johnson, who hasn’t had a victory since June 2017 at Dover, said he feels a victory is close.
“The last month, we’ve definitely been heading in the right direction, and I think we’re hitting our stride as a group right now,” Johnson said.
Explanation for Shortening Daytona Race
Fans were disappointed, as were drivers, but officials said they had no choice but to shortened last Sunday’s Coke Zero Sugar 400. The race had already been moved from Saturday to Sunday, but with weather in the area, the race was cut short 33 laps.
Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, said it was the right decision.
“Every indicator we had was that we weren’t going to be able to do that and kind of said enough is enough and for the safety and sake of everybody, unfortunately, had to call the race,” O’Donnell said.
This Week’s Odds, Pick
The circuit visits Kentucky Speedway for the Quaker State 400 and Martin Truex Jr. is the favorite at 3/1. Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick are next at 5/1. We like William Byron at 40/1. He finished second last week and could break through for his first career victory.