Two Pocono races on tap for future
There will continue to be two NASCAR races each summer at Pocono Raceway. For years, rumors suggested otherwise.
On Friday, NASCAR Vice President of Racing Operations Steve O'Donnell and President Mike Helton met with Pocono founder, Chief of Operations and CEO Dr. Joe Mattioli to iron out details of what is a continuing resolution.
"We signed the deal with Doc on Friday," O'Donnell said. "It was for one year like we do at all the tracks."
Mattioli said with his long relationship with NASCAR, he never doubted that his Pocono 500 and Pennsylvania 500 would continue.
"Based on our long relationship with NASCAR it happened," Mattioli said. "I only asked NASCAR if they are treating me like every other track."
When the answer was in the affirmative, Mattioli said, "I signed the sanction. They said nothing has changed, everything is the same."
Pocono held its first Cup race in 1974, featuring one 500-mile event a summer until a second race was added in 1982.
There's been two races a year every year since.
In recent years some believed NASCAR wanted to move one, if not both, races to other venues.
So strong was the buzz, that state legislators in Harrisburg formed a motorsports committee two years ago. Its primary aim was to keep both the Pocono 500 and Pennsylvania 500 on the NASCAR schedule at Pocono.
It was speculated by some that only the long-time bond between NASCAR's long-time leader Bill France Jr. and Mattioli held the two races in Pocono's hand.
Many thought when France Jr. no longer held the reins at NASCAR the Pocono dates were in eminent jeopardy.
Five days after France Jr. died, however, the Pocono and Pennsylvania 500s extension were signed.
"Our agreements with all tracks are obviously year-to-year. Mike and I met with Doc (Mattioli) yesterday," O'Donnell said, "For '08, we're ready to go with two races here."
O'Donnell, a Kingwood Township native, said while the agreement was for one year, Pocono's NASCAR future is beyond.
"We're back in '08 and expect to be beyond that," O'Donnell said. "All our races are annual deals. Obviously, we have a long-standing relationship with Doc and that means a lot."
He said the death of France does not change the relationship.
"Doc and Bill were obviously very close," O'Donnell said. "But Doc has relationships with everyone at NASCAR. He's been great to us." Penn-Live