I can’t believe Pocono had 500-mile races at one point. Do you think shorter races are better, especially when it comes to Pocono? – Brett P., Philadelphia, Pa.
If you’ve read this column all year long, you know by now that I’m all for shortening everything. Trim the race lengths, trim the entire schedule, do all the shortening.
Pocono Raceway, historically, is memorable. But is it necessarily for the pure racing? To me (a soon-to-be 25-year-old, mind you) it’s more for nasty wrecks (Bobby Allison, Steve Park, Davey Allison, Elliott Sadler, etc.) and fuel mileage races, with this weekend the most recent example. Those 500-mile lengths are too long for any race other than a crown jewel event, and Pocono shortening their events to 400 miles was a slam-dunk of an idea. 325 and 350? Even better.
You can’t tell me that the races on Saturday and Sunday (June 26-27) didn’t keep you on the edge of your seat. They had differing strategies, green flag pit stops, fuel conservation and fast cars carving their way through the pack. That doesn’t happen every week in the NASCAR Cup Series anymore. That’s what made the weekend so special.
I’m all for fuel mileage races, but I wouldn’t want to see them 10 times per year. They’re great in moderation, and Sunday was that moderation. I’m not sure if the same result would have played out if the race was 100 miles longer, but what more could you want?
I left Sunday’s race feeling more than pleased with what I saw. And it was just about at the 2.5-hour mark. No offense, but I wouldn’t want to spend an additional 45-60 minutes just to see the same thing (and that probably would have been diluted a tad due to the inherent length).
People’s time is valuable. When fans buy a ticket, they’re not only giving the track their money, but their time. Not to be cliché as hell here, but you can never get time back. Money is important (duh), but time is more so. Giving all parties involved an experience as Pocono did this weekend could be the blueprint for future events.
Bottom line: the races themselves at Pocono were better in big part thanks to the length of them. Shortening races without compromising fans’ value is the way to go moving forward.
Has Brad Keselowski‘s attention being diverted to his impending Roush deal impacted his performance this season? – Kyle U., West Bloomfield, Mich.
On paper, one might surmise, yes.
Since Motorsport.com first reported the possibility (which has now become the worst-kept secret in the garage) on May 18, his results haven’t been great.
He ended up 19th at Circuit of the Americas, 11th at Charlotte Motor Speedway, 15th at Sonoma Raceway and 23rd at Nashville Superspeedway before a pair of top-10 finishes (10th and third) in the Pocono doubleheader.
But let’s not kid ourselves: this has been in the works for some time now.
It’s not like Keselowski magically decided a few weeks ago, “Hey, I think I want to join Roush as a driver/owner. Let’s make this happen!”
No, this has likely been in the works for at least a few months (if not much longer) and has also been something Keselowski has wanted to pursue since closing down his Camping World Truck Series team, Brad Keselowski Racing, after the 2017 season.
He’s stated previously on the record his want to get back into team ownership, a place where he can use his big ideas and put them to the test. And, as has been discussed, Keselowski has accomplished almost everything imaginable at Penske. He brought the Captain his first Cup championship, transformed the organization in multiple series to become a perennial title contender and has himself become one of the best drivers of his generation.
So it’s time for the next challenge for Keselowski, who will attempt to resurrect Roush Fenway Racing, once a juggernaut of the Cup Series but now a mid-pack team on a weekly basis (nothing is confirmed yet, but it’s all officially announced).
In short, Kyle, the answer to your question is no. Both Keselowski and Roger Penske are class personified in motorsports, and even though both gentleman likely have come to terms with their parting of ways by season’s end, they’re also likely focused on the task at hand: going out with a bang, winning races, dethroning Hendrick Motorsports and winning another championship.
The thought of team ownership and leaving Penske has been in Keselowski’s mind for years, even before he signed a one-year extension with the team for 2020. It was always inevitable that the 2012 champion was going to leave. The questions were at what cost and for whom?
Soon enough, we’ll officially get our answer.
This week on TikTok
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— Davey Segal (@DaveyCenter) June 30, 2021
About the author
Davey is in his fifth season with Frontstretch and currently serves as a multimedia editor and reporter. He authors the "NASCAR Mailbox" column, spearheads the site's video content and hosts the Frontstretch Podcast weekly. He's covered the K&N Pro Series and ARCA extensively for NASCAR.com and currently serves as an associate producer for SiriusXM NASCAR Radio and production assistant for NBC Sports Washington. Follow him on Twitter @DaveyCenter.