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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)
Chevrolet sweeps the podium with winner Mike Conway (center), driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrating his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. Tony Kanaan (left), driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet celebrates his second-place finish. Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet celebrates his third-place finish. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, Tony Kanaan and Will Power celebrate on the podium after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway, Tony Kanaan and Will Power pose for a selfie on the podium after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan and Will Power pose for a selfie on the podium after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud enters Turn 4 during practice for the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud in action (Photo by: Eric Anderson for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud in action (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to a fourteenth-place finish Saturday, July 13, 2014 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Power lost the championship points lead to teammate Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, who finished eighth. (Photo by Dan Streck/LAT for Chevy Racing)
The #28 Andretti Autosport team celebrates victory (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay waits on pitlane prior to practice at Pocono Raceway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Justin Wilson and Charlie Kimball go side-by-side for the start of the Pocono INDYCAR 500 (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay with an early pit stop during the Pocono INDYCAR 500 (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Justin Wilson exits Turn 2 during practice for the Pocono INDYCAR 500 at Pocono Raceway (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Justin Wilson waits on pit lane prior to qualifications for the Pocono INDYCAR 500 (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)

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