Anatomy of 'most tricky, treacherous' restart
August 03, 2014, Justin Allgaier, Special to, NASCAR.com
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Before his second career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Pocono Raceway, Justin Allgaier, Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender and driver of the No. 51 AccuDoc Solutions Chevrolet for HScott Motorsports, discussed why restarts are so tricky at the Tricky Triangle.
Restarts at Pocono Raceway are probably one of the most, if not the most, tricky and treacherous because the front straightaway is so wide. It's so inviting. The issue is Turn 1 is so narrow. Realistically, there are only two lanes to get through Turn 1 side-by-side. You can go three or four, but it's not optimal.
As you roll into Turn 4 at other tracks, drivers that are 10th and further back are not quite straight yet. They're still coming off of the corner when the leaders are straight. Pocono is such a long straightaway, and a lot more cars are straight, which sets up a unique dynamic. It allows guys to be more set and get a good run.
When you leave Turn 3, and you get to Turn 1, it just seems like forever. By the time you get to fourth gear, you're hoping that you're not three-, four- or five-wide, but the likelihood of it is pretty good. Turn 1 funnels down pretty good, and it usually separates itself into two- or three-wide and then we try to fan out back on the short chute there between Turn 1 and Turn 2. It's tricky but fun.
The pace car pulls off at 70 mph, and the speed picks up another five miles per hour or so. When the leader initiates the start and puts the throttle down, you have to get the RPMs just right and go through the gears just right. We restart in second gear here. You go to third gear, which carries a long way here because we have a shifting transmission. You can go almost all the way until you lift to go into Turn 1.
The Gen-6 Sprint Cup car punches a big hole in the air. They're great for downforce, but the second car back gets a little bit of an advantage and then the third car back gets a little bit of an advantage and the fourth car gets more and more of an aero advantage. With the power that we're putting to the ground, it's just amazing how much of a run you can get.
When you get that run, your first instinct is "Well, I'll pull out go to the inside or the outside." By the time you get to both ends of the straightaway, you realize that's probably a bad plan, especially if you're in the middle. That's when you realize that this was a really bad plan and you just try to get through Turn 1 as best you can.
Three sections to a restart
There are three distinct groups and three different mindsets. The leaders tend to spread out a little bit to try to get clean air. The middle guys seem to push more. They'll get on somebody's bumper and push them up to be able to go through a hole. When you get to the back, you've got the beginning of the lap-down and penalty cars so you've got guys that are all on different strategies and at different speeds so that tends to make it fan out again.
I don't know that any section is safer or better than another spot. If you're up front, obviously you're at least battling for clean air. If you're in the middle, you might get shoved into something if something happens. In the back for the June race, I was put out wide on the restart. We tried entering the corner five-wide, and we were five-wide, two rows deep. The end result for me saw the doors and quarter panels knocked off of both sides of our car. You at least hope you're the guy on the bottom or maybe the next car one car up off of the bottom. That way, you can at least try to get the best line through the corner and at least survive off the turn.
Which is the preferred line?
In a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, the outside line is definitely preferred because the trucks take so long to get wound up. On the outside line, you can carry momentum. Also, the trucks are a lot easier to suck around aerowise. If you're side-by-side, you can turn the guy around inside of you a little bit easier.
I don't know that one line is better than the other for the NASCAR Sprint Series Cup Series race. In addition to timing the restart just right and going through the gears just right, having somebody that will work with you is important and give you a little bit of a boost when you get to the start/finish line.