Less curb, more appeal in Turn 2 at Pocono

The ability to cut the corner or make a pass on the widened racing surface could be more illusion than reality.

Less curb, more appeal in Turn 2 at Pocono

Polesitter Denny Hamlin can see why some drivers might be enticed to cut corners when attacking the reconfigured Tunnel Turn at Pocono Raceway on Sunday.

But the four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winner at Pocono suggests everyone exercise caution rather than bravado when it comes to the infamous Turn 2 in the Pocono 400.

In an effort to improve safety and increase speed, the track has removed curbing and paved over a grassy area to create a 15-foot apron at the top of the track known as the Tricky Triangle. However, the ability to cut the corner or make a pass on the widened racing surface could be more illusion than reality.

"It’s a cool idea, but the new asphalt is like two inches higher than the old asphalt,” noted Hamlin. “It’s not a smooth transition, so it will rip your splitter ... literally, you’re going to just tear your whole front end right off the car if you try to cut that corner.

“I’ve got probably a handful of guys that I have an idea would try to do that and it’s not going to be good for them when they try to do it. But somebody’s going to get forced down there at some point and I’ll be interested in seeing the outcome of that.”

The alteration is similar in some ways to the modifications made several years ago at the entry of Turn 3 at Phoenix International Raceway.

“But you can’t use it like Phoenix because at Phoenix you’re running 120 mph,” Hamlin said. “Here you’re running 190 [mph] going into that corner. If the new asphalt is two inches higher, physics ain’t going to let that happen. So, it’s a cool thought but it’s not going to be useable.”

Despite the risks of tearing up a splitter, the rewards could be great for a driver who might attempt the move late in a race, perhaps on a restart for a green-white-checkered finish at Pocono.

“I’m sure someone is going to try it,” said Brad Keselowski, who qualified third for Sunday’s race. “Clean air is so important, and when we all go down into Turn 2 and we are stacked up, I’m sure someone will try to use it to find clean air. We’ll all be watching to see how they get through or if they make it. It should be interesting.”

Hamlin isn’t convinced.

"I think all the Cup drivers are smarter than that,” he said. “It’s not a smooth transition. It’s a huge jump when you hit it. The only reason somebody’s going to go down there is if they get forced down there. And if they get forced, they’re probably going to be turning hard left into the garage as soon as they get to the front straightaway.”

Whether or not the reconfigured turn will provide any advantage in competition, the elimination of the curb and widening of the apron has certainly provided a bit more margin for error.

“With the Tunnel Turn now, there is less of a penalty for getting in there and misjudging the apex – which is nice because I do that a lot,” Carl Edwards said. “I was the master at hitting that curb and really messing up my lap. I notice now that if I cross over that line, it is just a little more forgiving.”

“That curb,” Keselowski said, “was kind of a race-killer. If you hit it, it would damage the front splitter … and it could really end your day and not necessarily be your fault. At least, now, you have somewhere to go. I thought [removing that curb] was a good thing, a great change.”

Seth Livingstone - NASCAR Wire Service

shares
comments
Racing unites Triple Crown winner Steve Cauthen and Carl Edwards
Previous article

Racing unites Triple Crown winner Steve Cauthen and Carl Edwards

Next article

Roush Fenway in flux

Roush Fenway in flux
Load comments
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Prime

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, but his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines...

NASCAR Cup
Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR Cup
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR Cup
Oct 5, 2021
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Prime

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organization - which underlines his enduring value

NASCAR Cup
Aug 31, 2021
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021