Open-wheel racing makes an historic return, after a 24-year absence, to Pocono Raceway for the Pocono IndyCar 400 Fueled by Sunoco on Sunday, July 7. Two racing legends, and former Pocono race winners, Mario Andretti and Danny Sullivan, shared their thoughts on Pocono and what it means to have “The Tricky Triangle” back on the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule.
“Pocono Raceway holds a special place in my heart for so many reasons,” said Andretti. “In addition to being close to my home, it's very challenging for drivers and engineers to figure out. It's called ‘The Tricky Triangle' for a reason. I fell in love with Pocono long before I won there in 1986. From the very beginning, 45 years ago, this was a superspeedway in my own backyard. A gem of a playground! I became friends with the Mattioli family early on and we have maintained our friendship.”
“A great layout, and three distinctly different corners, makes a good setup difficult,” said Sullivan, winner of the 1984 and 1989 events at Pocono. “Pocono used to be rough, but that added to the challenge. My races there were always close and competitive. Winning it twice was special.”
Additional past Pocono Raceway winners include some of the all-time greatest drivers in history, including A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears, Bobby Rahal and Al Unser.
“I think Pocono is an ideal track for Indy cars,” said Sullivan. “With all of the upgrades, improvements in safety, you should see a great return from the IndyCar Series.”
Agreed Rahal, “I haven't seen the track since 1989 but from what I understand, it's a lot smoother than it used to be. I'm sure the track has changed dramatically in the ensuing 24 years. It was always one of my favorite, if not my favorite, ovals and was certainly my favorite big oval because all three corners were totally different. Based on testing, it's going to be a big challenge. They (drivers) are almost flat out, or are flat out, which is hard to believe because I don't think we were ever flat by any stretch of the imagination around the whole track. Although I don't think the speeds were too dissimilar than they are today but they were different cars and it was a different world back then. From what I can tell it's going to be a very challenging race and I think everyone has responded very positively toward the track."
Rahal didn't expect the 400-mile race to be an endurance event with the current generation of cars and engines.
“I'm not sure why its 400 miles instead of 500 like it used to be, but they are all sprint races today so I don't think it matters how long or how short the race is," Rahal said. "We came away from the test pretty pleased. The series has since put more downforce in the car so it should make the car a bit racier, and easily flat out, so that is going to take a little bit of the advantage away from those people who can get the handling working better. But then it will be all about trimming out and seeing how little downforce you can get away with. It will make for an interesting race."
“I'm happy to personally welcome Pocono back into IndyCar's ever-evolving story,” added Andretti. “Whatever the changes, from one era to the next, Pocono has maintained its character and significance to me, and it always will. My family shares this sentiment.”