Many similarities have been described between Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway as far as speed goes for the IZOD IndyCar Series, but more differences than what initially meets the eye will determine who is fastest on Saturday afternoon during qualifying.
Ed Carpenter turned in a phenomenal qualifying effort for the Indianapolis 500 claiming the Verizon P1 Award. At Pocono Raceway, he explains that what it takes to be the fastest will most likely differ.
"Here the straightaways are a little different. The corners are a little different. The duration of the corners are different. Gearing for Indy is easier. Here, with the different length straightaways, different-shaped corners, it's hard to have as many options to cover as many conditions."
So what is it going to take to claim the pole?
"I think gearing and getting it right for conditions for two laps is going to be a big part about who comes out on pole."
Qualifying positions for the Pocono IndyCar 400 fueled by Sunoco will be determined by each driver's one attempt at a two timed lap average. This differs from the unique format that the Indianapolis 500 has on pole day, namely a four lap average setting the field.
In contrast to qualifying, Carpenter feels the race conditions will be quite similar to Indy.
"I think it's going to be a lot like Indianapolis, who picks the right level of downforce, who picks the gearing right. The way the wind is blowing, a tailwind coming out of Turn 3, is going to make it tricky."
Qualifying for Sunday's race is set to begin at 1:15pm on Saturday. Carpenter will be going out near the end of the session while fastest in Saturday morning practice, Marco Andretti, will be the third car out to qualify.