Pocono Raceway officials have announced that their 2012 Sprint Cup races will be 100 miles shorter than in the past, becoming 400-mile events.
Pocono has usually had some of the longest 500-milers as lap times are longer than at other tracks with similar distances, such as Daytona. The tri-oval has the lowest lap average speed of all 2.5-mile ovals the Sprint Cup visits. Those characteristics have made races seem extremely long, with many drivers calling for changes numerous times.
Last weekend, when the race at Pocono was halted due to rain past its halfway mark, Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Mother Nature was hinting at how long races at the track should be.
The first Pocono 400 will take place on June 10, while the Pennsylvania 400, also at the track, will run on Aug. 5, 2012 almost mirroring this year's calendar.
"The 400-mile distance will make NASCAR racing at Pocono even more exciting," said the track's President and CEO, Brandon Igdalsky. "Race strategies will change, fuel mileage calculations will be altered and I firmly believe that our fans will be treated to outstanding racing at the 400-mile distance."
Last weekend's event at Pocono was on live TV for about five and a half hours from start to finish, including nearly 1 hour 40 minutes of stoppages due to rain.
"NASCAR supports Pocono Raceway's move to two 400-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in 2012," said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR senior vp of racing operations. "We believe this will be a good transition for the fans and competitors. It will provide the teams with a new type of strategy and should make for even more exciting competition at a unique facility that has a long-standing history in our sport."
A total of 68 Sprint Cup races have been run at Pocono since the first event in 1974. The track is part of a minority in the Sprint Cup calendar which are not owned either by the ISC or SMI track conglomerates.