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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)
Will Power in action during practice for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power in action during practice for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud crosses the line at Fontana during practice for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power sits in his pit stand prior to practice for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud and Ryan Briscoe go wheel-to-wheel during the Open Test at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Will Power sits on pit lane prior to the evening Open Test session at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud preps on pit lane prior to the evening Open Test session at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Will Power in his pit stand at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Will Power in his pit stand prior to track activity during the Open Test at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Scott Dixon and Simon Pagenaud on the podium after the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power on pit lane prior to the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud sits on pit lane prior to the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates capturing the pole Saturday, August 23, 2014, with the fastest qualifying time for Sunday`s IndyCar race at at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates capturing the pole Saturday, August 23, 2014, with the fastest qualifying time for Sunday`s IndyCar race at at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)

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