Race Weekend Central

NASCAR 101: Talking About Triangles

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series go to the Pocono Mountains this weekend for a weekend racing at Pocono Raceway, a 2.5-mile superspeedway in Long Pond, Pa., which has hosted many different racing series over the years.

Unlike the vast majority of other stock-car race weekends, the shape cars will be driving in will be a triangle, not the mashed circles of many ovals.

Pocono’s three corners were designed to emulate Trenton (N.J.) Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Milwaukee Mile, respectively, and feature varying amounts of banking. It takes more skill than usual to be successful there on the track, but the racing isn’t typically thrilling for fans at home watching on TV. It’s more like baseball, in that there are rare moments of action amid a parade. Unfortunately, that action usually turns into single-vehicle carnage, as this crash from last year testifies:

The Cup Series has been racing at the Tricky Triangle since August 1974, with Richard Petty the first to cross the finish line. Since 1982, there have been two races each year, for a total of 80 premier series events.  In that time, eight different manufacturers have found Victory Lane, with Chevrolet leading with 32 wins, Ford following with 23 and Toyota with five. (For the other 20 races, Dodge had seven wins, Pontiac six, Buick four, Mercury two and Oldsmobile one.)

The list of winners, even in highlighted form, reads like a crash course on the history of the sport: Pearson, Petty, Allison, Yarborough, Waltrip, Elliott, Rusty Wallace, Dale Jarrett, Geoff Bodine, Earnhardt, Gordon. Both Labontes have won here, as have both Busches. The father-son combo of Richard and Kyle Petty have won at the track, as did Dale and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Jeff Gordon won at the track six times and tied Mark Martin with most total top-five finishes at 20 (even though Martin somehow never won there). 21 drivers have won multiple times in the Cup Series.

Among current drivers, 12 have won at the track: Ryan Blaney, Chris Buescher, Kurt and Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr. Of those drivers, Hamlin has the most wins with four, while Kurt Busch and Johnson each have three victories.

Though many drivers have won back-to-back races at the track, Tim Richmond is the only driver to win three in a row, from 1986-87. The longest winning streak by manufacturer was six races in a row from August 2012 to June 2015, all won by Chevy drivers Gordon, Johnson, Kahne, Earnhardt and Truex.

Among the drivers getting their first career Cup win at Pocono include Jeremy Mayfield holding off Gordon in 1998 and Hamlin spinning to the victory in 2006. Buescher’s fog-assisted underdog triumph for Front Row Motorsports was in 2016, while Blaney’s late pass of Kyle Busch and holding-off of Kevin Harvick was last season.

The XFINITY Series has only raced at Pocono the past two years, and both times Cup interlopers captured the checkered flag, as Kyle Larson won in 2016 and Keselowski was the victor last season.

The Camping World Truck Series has been racing once a year there since 2010, and recently Kyle Busch Motorsports drivers have ruled, as Busch himself, William Byron and Christopher Bell have combined to win the past three races. Elliott Sadler, Harvick, Joey Coulter and Austin Dillon have all won in Chevrolets, and Blaney has Ford’s only CWTS win there to date.

In the ARCA Series, 61 races have been completed at Pocono, with eight different manufacturers getting to Victory Lane (Ford 19 wins, Chevy 18, Dodge nine, Toyota five, Pontiac four, Buick, Chrysler and Oldsmobile two each). Tim Steele totaled nine wins from 1993-2001, while Bob Keselowski won five times. Other ARCA-victorious relatives of track winners include Kerry Earnhardt, Chase Elliott and Casey Mears. For the most part, over the last decade the races have been taken by drivers who have since graduated to one of the national series.

IndyCar has raced at the track off and on since 1971, and AJ Foyt reigns with four victories. Also winning at the Tricky Triangle were Mario Andretti, Bobby Rahal, Rick Mears and Al and Bobby Unser, The defending IndyCar winner is recent Indy 500 winner Will Power.

The XFINITY Series’ Pocono Green 250 will be Saturday at 1 p.m. ET, with TV coverage on FS1, and the MENCS Pocono 400 will be Sunday at 2 p.m. ET, also on FS1.

About the author

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Share this article

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com