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Drivers impressed by Pocono in first 2013 tyre test

It's been 24 years since US open wheel racing came to Pocono Raceway - making it a whole new experience for a brand new generation of IndyCar drivers in 2013.
None of the current full time drivers in the IZOD IndyCar Series have ever competed in an open wheel car at the unique Pocono Raceway tri-oval before - and some of them weren't even born the last time that IndyCars took to the race track in August 1989.

Marco Andretti was just two and a half years old at the time when his grandfather, father and cousin all competed in the Quaker State 500, so the media had to turn to the older generation to get some thoughts on the 2.5-mile 'Tricky Triangle' which has been a fixture on the NASCAR calendar for stock cars in the meantime.

"The facility is fabulous and was my favourite superspeedway to drive on," said Mario Andretti. "This track is different from any other superspeedway we run because of the very different radius of every corner and also different banking. It's what I really enjoyed about this place.

"We've been waiting for this moment and we belong here," the motor sports icon added. "This place was built for IndyCars!"

His grandson Marco got his first opportunity to try out Pocono for himself on Wednesday, when he joined Dario Franchitti, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power out on track for a one day Firestone tyre test. It didn't take long for the quartet to show how the sport had advanced in the intervening years.

The previous lap record for an open wheel car had been Emerson Fittipaldi's 211.715mph in 1989; but the cars were soon exceeding 215mph on Wednesday despite having to find their way on tyres and aerodynamic settings fine-tuned for different race tracks such as Indianapolis and Auto Club Speedway, Fontana.

"It's like Nazareth on steroids!" was Marco's opinion. "It was kind of like a higher-speed short oval ... It was about finding the limit in turn 3, getting a feel for the banking. It will be interesting trying to find the balance between turn 1 and 3."

Pocono features a 3,740-foot front straight that rivals that of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with banking of 14, eight and six degrees at the three turns.

"There's always compromise, especially at a track with three such different corners," said Ganassi driver Dario Franchitti. "There's the big banking in turn 1, almost flat tracking in turn 3 and the tunnel turn. You're always going to be better at one corner than another. The trick is to figure out which one you can give away the most in order to still be competitive."

Franchitti is the exception to the rule in having driven at Pocono in the recent past, albeit in a stock car when he was competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship at speeds some 35mph slower than he was immediately achieving this week.




Related Pictures

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Ganassi driver Dario Franchitti. (Photo Credit: John Cotes for IndyCar Media)
Will Power gives a media interview at St Petersburg, Florida - March 2013. (Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Marco Andretti and his grandfather Mario talk in pit lane during practice at St Petersburg, Florida - March 2013 (Picture Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
NASCAR fans pack to the Pocono grandstands as Matt Kenseth drives the #17 Zest Ford during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway on August 5, 2012 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, and his team perform the traditional kissing of the bricks after racing to victory Sunday, May 24, 2015, winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Montoya went from near-last to first, winning the Indy 500 for the second time in his career. Chevrolet powered the top four cars in the race. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, drinks the traditional bottle of milk while celebrating his victory Sunday, May 24, 2015, winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Montoya went from near-last to first, winning the Indy 500 for the second time in his career. Chevrolet powered the top four cars in the race. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, celebrates his victory Sunday, May 24, 2015, winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Montoya went from near-last to first, winning the Indy 500 for the second time in his career. Chevrolet powered the top four cars in the race. (Photo by Scott R. LePage/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, crosses the finish line as he races to victory Sunday, May 24, 2015, winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Montoya went from near-last to first, winning the Indy 500 for the second time in his career. Will Power (left), driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, finishes second. Chevrolet powered the top four cars in the race. (Photo by Andy Frame/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power on pit road during the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Dana Garrett for IndyCar Media)
Penske team mates Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power race side-by-wide during the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya crosses the line ahead of Penske team mate Will Power to win the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Justin Wilson resplendent in the Rolling Stones livery for the #25 Andretti Autosport Honda in pit lane on Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Friday May 22 2015. (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Justin Wilson resplendent in the Rolling Stones livery for the #25 Andretti Autosport Honda on track on Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Friday May 22 2015. (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Will Power, Mark Miles and Derrick Walker announce the addition of Boston to the 2016 IndyCar Series itinerary. (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Marco Andretti and Sage Karam at IMS (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies third fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, and will start on the outside of the front row for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Pagenaud will be joined in the front row by by polestar Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who qualified second fastest for the May 24 race. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies second-fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, and will start in the middle of the front row for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Power will be joined in the front row by pole sitter Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet  who qualified third for the May 24 race. (Photo by Scott R. LePage/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates after qualifying fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, winning the pole for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Dixon will be joined in the front row by Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who qualified second fastest, and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet  who qualified third for the May 24 race. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)

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