The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: A Tale Of Two Pocono’s

Column By: JOHN DOUGLAS / RPW – LONG POND, PA – Sunday afternoon’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway was a bit of a sigh of relief for most fans who struggled to sit through Saturday’s Xfinity Series race.   Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly from the Tricky Triangle.

The Good

With the top three drivers in the series battling head-to-head-to-head, we finally got to see Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick on equal terms in a no excuses fight for a win.

Truex Jr’s win over the two most dominant drivers of 2018 to date was a statement that even the Furniture Row Racing team will admit needed to come sooner rather than later. Not only for the sake of race winning points but for the team’s overall morale.

The more consistent winners we have this year the better. As stated in earlier articles this season, we need more teams stepping up to Harvick’s level of performance if we expect to have a legitimately interesting 10 race playoff come the end of this year.

The Bad

Yet again fans took to twitter after Sunday’s race to complain about Pocono having two race events. Totally overlooking the fact that this track created three different tire strategies within the top ten cars on the final pit stops of the race. Those strategies left the race in doubt for everyone involved with the lead battle.

We had constant situations where the top two cars were much closer together on track than at any point during the Saturday Xfinity event, which by all accounts (barring a few crazy people on social media) was a total failure of the experimental package NASCAR has been trying out on some of its less racy tracks on the schedule.

It’s becoming clearer and clearer that most race fans on social media want better for the sport. That’s a good thing. What isn’t a good thing is when they fail to recognize when NASCAR has it right. Sunday’s race didn’t require a special aero package to keep the leaders within striking distance for a good 70 percent of the overall race distance. Passing was possible. Difficult but possible.

We as fans, media and a sporting community in general have to being recognizing when NASCAR has it right. Sunday was far closer to the right direction than Saturday by a long shot.

The Ugly

Saturday’s Xfinity Series event at Pocono was one of those not-so-rare occasions lately, where NASCAR comes to a track with good intentions, a special aero package and their fingers crossed that it will succeed. This time, it did not.

Kyle Busch’s seven second lead within the first ten laps of segment one could have been chalked up to the hard racing from second on back allowing him to run away. However, that was about the last anyone saw of Kyle all day long. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver drove into the next zip code and never wavered on his way to one of the easiest victories in a long line of seemingly effortless wins on the younger Busch brother’s resume.

Busch, contrary to popular belief, has every right to compete on Saturdays for wins. However, NASCAR helped nothing bringing this package to a track like Pocono. Though for a time Indy and Pocono created similar racing and similar car set ups, it’s becoming clear that they require different things aero-wise. Does anyone have the right answer? I’m sure they do. NASCAR didn’t have it last Saturday and thankfully, it wasn’t something they felt sure enough about to apply to the MENCS race the next day, or we’d be looking at one 200 mile Cup race at Pocono next year and as a Northeast racing fan, the last thing our region needs is another lost major racing event.

Here’s hoping NASCAR can find a way to make every race as solid as Sunday’s was at Pocono and that fans begin to realize there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the type of action you see at the Tricky Triangle.