(TOLEDO, Ohio) - Throw out the old notes, and prepare for the new. Pocono Raceway is sporting a fresh asphalt surface for Saturday's Pocono ARCA 200, and together, ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards teams and drivers will learn anew what the revamped triangle has to offer.
Saturday's race, which will begin at 1:30 p.m. and air on SPEED from the start at 2:30 p.m., will be the seventh of ARCA's 60th Anniversary Season. Six drivers have won the six races so far this year, and as many look to become the seventh, none has made any laps on the 2.5-mile circuit - except one.
Chad Hackenbracht, who is currently fifth in series points for CGH Motorsports, participated in a Hoosier tire test at the track shortly after the pavement project was completed.
"It's a lot different," he said. "It's got a ton of grip and the whole time we were there doing that test, I never did find the exact edge of it. It's really smooth and there are no bumps anywhere."
Chris Buescher, who is second to points leader Brennan Poole in the standings, also expects fewer bumps in Turn 1, which could significantly change the way teams set up cars. Frank Kimmel, a three-time winner at Pocono who stands fourth in the standings, is hoping for the new surface to be slippery. A situation like that, forcing the driver to be more precise, would presumably give a veteran like Kimmel a decided advantage from the seat.
"It's kind of a crapshoot for everybody," said Kimmel, who has 38 starts at Pocono since 1992. "We don't know what it's all going to be about with the new pavement and the smaller spoiler, but everybody's going to be pretty much on the same, even playing ground. It's Pocono, and I hope it gets hot and slick and we slide around there too. We'll do okay if it's like that."
Pennsylvanian Bobby Gerhart, an eight-time winner at Daytona, is the most experienced ARCA driver at Pocono, with 45 starts. He has not yet won at the track, but driving to victory this weekend would be fitting after being honored Tuesday in Pennsylvania's capital city, Harrisburg.
As part of "Pennsylvania Motorsports Caucus Day," Gerhart was introduced and congratulated for his record eighth Daytona victory by State Rep. RoseMarie Swanger. Swanger introduced a House of Representatives Resolution for Gerhart's motorsports achievements, and talked about the progression of his career from Jonestown, Pa.'s Linda's Speedway in 1977 to the ARCA ranks today.
Practice for Saturday's race will begin at 10 a.m. on Friday, and will last for one hour and 50 minutes. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell will start at 2:05. In order to give ARCA teams more preparation time on the new surface, a second practice will take place from 5:10-6 p.m.
ARCARacing.com will feature live timing and scoring coverage of all on-track activity throughout the weekend.
Since 1983, the ARCA Racing Series has made a custom of rolling onto the Long Pond track as a companion to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. This weekend's race, taking place one day before a Sprint Cup race, will be ARCA's 54th at Pocono.
2012 is the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards' 60th Anniversary Season, featuring 20 races at 18 tracks. The complete 2012 event schedule is available at ARCARacing.com.
The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards has crowned an ARCA national champion each year since its inaugural season in 1953, and has toured over 200 race tracks in 26 states since its inception. The series has tested the abilities of drivers and race teams over the most diverse schedule of stock car racing events in the world, visiting tracks ranging from 0.375 mile to 2.66 miles in length, on both paved and dirt surfaces as well as a left- and right-turn road course in its most recent season. This year, the series visited Alabama's Mobile International Speedway and Minnesota's Elko Speedway for the first time.
Founded by John and Mildred Marcum in 1953 in Toledo, Ohio, the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) is recognized among the leading sanctioning bodies in the country. Closing in on completing its sixth decade after hundreds of thousands of miles of racing, ARCA administers over 100 race events each season in three professional touring series and local weekly events.