Upgrades for Pocono Raceway
Pocono Raceway expects a safer track in 2011 and beyond. The NASCAR track should be finished by the end of this year with significant safety upgrades that include a soft-wall barrier and catch fence. Work on the multimillion-dollar project started in October.
The new fence will run from the end of the front stretch and connect with the existing catch fence in Turn 2. The 6,155-foot fence will now surround the entire 2.5-mile race track.
The SAFER barrier will run on the entire length of the inside of the track from the exit of Turn 1 to the entrance of Turn 3 for a total of 5,516 feet. Pocono Raceway already has soft-wall barriers at each of the track's three turns.
Track president Brandon Igdalsky said the improvements, especially the fence, were long overdue.
"The question was, 'Why don't we have it out there?"' Igdalsky said by phone. "We couldn't answer that. Let's put it up. Let's get it up and get it out there."
Igdalsky listened to responses from NASCAR and drivers who long complained the triangle track was unsafe. Pocono had started planning safety improvements this year even before two scary accidents put a spotlight on the track's deficiencies.
Kasey Kahne was involved in a huge scare in the June race when he lost control of his car in the grass, went airborne and into the trees that line the track. Had the car sailed higher, Kahne would have flipped out of the track.
Elliott Sadler walked away from a frightening wreck in August when his car smashed the inside wall. He came away with a sore chest and stomach.
"I think it's going to change racing in the long term," Igdalsky said. "I don't think the drivers will be thinking about it in the back of their heads. They'll come out and just think about racing." SI.com