Saturday, August 4, 2012
Notes from the NASCAR Nation: A Tail Gate Party in the Pocono Mountains
by Dave Grayson
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be bringing their high energy brand of tail gate party to the Pocono Raceway for Saturday's running of the Pocono Mountains 125. NASCAR's truck brigade will be going full speed ahead on the raceway's massive 2.5 mile, three turn, facility known as the tricky triangle. This event has all of the potential ingredients of turning into a very exciting race. Then again, any time NASCARs trucks rolls onto any speedway the results are often exciting.
THE STORY BREAKDOWN
Saturday's race will be the series' third appearance at the Pocono Raceway. It will also be their first race on the raceway's new asphalt that was put in place late last fall. That new surface is exactly why we saw some very high speeds during the series' final practice session on Friday. Nelson Piquet Jr, in his Turner Motorsports Chevrolet, topped the practice speed charts with a lap of 167.635 MPH.
In the past, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Pocono Raceway have been very kind to visitors from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Elliott Sadler won the 2010 event while Kevin Harvick won last year's race.
Will a Cup visitor find the Pocono Raceway victory lane for the third year in a row? It's very possible because Denny Hamlin will be driving a Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports. KBM has 16 wins in the trucks series but, remarkably, not one of them has been during the 2012 season. They have scored six top ten finishes during the first ten races but that been the lone highlight of their season so far.
How good is the idea of placing Hamlin behind the wheel of the KBM truck? It's actually brilliant. Denny Hamlin has superior personal driver stats at the tricky triangle and is heavily favored to win the Sprint Cup race on Sunday. There is a very strong possibility that this particular Cup visitor could put KBM in victory lane for the first time this year.
The Pocono event marks the half way point of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season and that means the process of collecting those valuable championship points becomes even more critical. Timothy Peters goes into the Pocono weekend leading the standings with a 23 points advantage over Ty Dillon, 30 points over Justin Lofton and 35 points ahead of James Buescher. The drivers ranked in points positions second through fourth are still very much in the championship profile, but they can't afford to let Peters' lead get any larger. It's go time.
The series' drivers had an opportunity for some fun on Thursday before getting down to the serious business of racing at Pocono. Former series champion Todd "the Onion" Bodine hosted the third annual Onion Slice Open charity golf tournament held at the Blue Ridge Trail Golf Club. The event benefited pediatric patients suffering from traumatic brain injury at the Allied Service Rehabilitation Center in Wiles Barre-Pennsylvania.
THE RACE BREAKDOWN
The Pocono Mountains 125 is 125 laps/50 miles around the Pocono Raceway's massive 2.5 mile, three turn, triangle shaped race track.
Due to some late in week team withdrawals, the entry list is now down to 34 for a race that can start 36 trucks. That means all entries will get to race and the element of go or go home, knock out, qualifying will not apply to this race.
Saturday's race will be broadcast live by the SPEED Network beginning at 1230 pm eastern time. The encore broadcast of this race will also be on SPEED beginning at 11 pm eastern.