For the first time ever, NASCAR’s premiere series will host two races, on the same race track, in a span of two days. The NASCAR Cup Series takes to the Pocono Raceway on both Saturday and Sunday for two completely different races.
Yes, it will feature the same cars and the same drivers competing on the same race track 24 hours apart, but there’s a couple of big differences which will make both races stand apart from one another too.
Saturday’s race will be 325 miles in length in comparison to Sunday’s 350 mile race. Where this big difference between the races is, the second race will see the starting spots come from an inverted field based off of Saturday’s final results.
Essentially, the 20th place finisher on Saturday will start on the pole on Sunday. The winner from Saturday will come from 20th and everything in between.
With Pocono being a track notorious for a lack of passing, that could throw a wrench into things.
“I think the race is plenty long enough as to where if your car is good, you’ll make up some positions,” Denny Hamlin said of the second race of the weekend. “Getting back to the front will be difficult. Without a doubt, it will be difficult for somebody to win both races simply because the track is a little harder to pass at unless you have a superb, dominant car. Even if you have that, it’s going to be difficult to really pass guys simply because the big aero that you have there when you’re behind someone.”
Hamlin, should know a thing or two about Pocono anyways. After all, he’s a five-time winner on the Tricky Triangle, most recently just last summer.
“If you get out of there with a couple top fives, it’s a good weekend,” the Joe Gibbs Racing driver continued. “If one of them can be a win, that’s a very, very good weekend. You definitely have to set your goals even though you want to win both. You can still get back to the front with strategy in certain places, but I think that’s the goal.
“If (Saturday) is a bad day, you can essentially overhaul your car and put a new setup in and come up with new ideas, and you’ll be starting upfront. I think you can really bounce back. You could have flip-flop days between the two races.”
Hamlin, has the most wins (3) in the series this season. He’s entering this weekend hot in his No. 11 Toyota. With Toyota having won three straight at Pocono, I’d watch out for him in one of the two races.
Hamlin, says that while the veterans will be the ones to beat on Saturday, it could work in reverse on Sunday.
“I think maybe logic works in reverse there because I don’t have more to learn there and maybe some of the newer drivers will make the bigger strides from one race to the next,” Hamlin continued. “Overall, I like our chances going there and turning around to put another setup in. If the first one doesn’t work, we’ll bounce back from a bad day if we were to have one. I think we’re going to be pretty solid both days.
“I think if you have a good day, you’re going to just tweak your setup a little bit for the second day. You will have a bad starting position, but I think the race is plenty long enough as to where if your car is good, you’ll make up some positions.”