LONG POND – Last Sunday, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points leader Kyle Busch made the hard left turn into victory lane to celebrate his Coca-Cola 600 win at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch’s fast No. 18 Toyota started on the pole and led all but 23 laps in NASCAR’s longest race. He also swept all four stages of the event en route to his first Cup points-paying win at the 1.5-mile track.
The 2015 Cup champ finally crossed Charlotte off his list, becoming the only active driver to win at every track on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series circuit.
“It’s just something cool tonight to be able to accomplish something that I’ve been dreaming about since I was a kid,” Busch said Sunday night after the race. “ I remember being 8, 9, 10 years old and wanting to win races at Charlotte, wanting to win the Coke 600, wanting to win the All-Star Race and just remembering watching those races under the lights here and dreaming of one day going to Victory Lane, and now finally it’s here.”
“It’s taken so long, but it feels so good in the same breath. Just going to cherish the next 100 days and we’ll be back here at Charlotte again trying to go for another win at a different venue.”
When the Cup Series returns to Charlotte in the fall, they will run at the facility’s 2.28-mile ‘Roval’ (road course + oval) in the third race of NASCAR’s 10-race playoffs.
FOX commentator Darrell Waltrip used the term ‘Roval’ in the past, especially when describing the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway in Long Pond.
Pocono drives like a road course with its three distinct turns. Drivers shift on the long, 3,740-foot front straightaway, barreling their cars at more than 200 mph into Turn 1 before setting themselves up for the Long Pond straightaway and into the tricky Turn 2.
Otherwise known as the Tunnel Turn, Turn 2 has had some nasty wrecks in the track’s 47-year history, most notably when NASCAR legend Bobby Allison endured a head-on collision with Jocko Maggiacomo nearly 30 years ago to this weekend. The crash ended Allison’s driving career, but the 84-time series winner continues to be involved in the sport now as a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Turn 3 is shaped like the Milwaukee Mile — a long, sweeping corner before completing a lap at the Tricky Triangle. Kyle Larson holds the Cup track qualifying record at 49.063 seconds (183.438 mph) set in August 2014.
Larson has yet to score a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series victory at Pocono, but did win a stage in last June’s event while finishing seventh in the 400-mile race.
In addition to the Cup Series running at Pocono Raceway, the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, and the NASCAR Xfinity Series will also race at the 2.5-mile track this weekend.
On-track activity for the Pocono 400 kicks off this morning with ARCA practice at 10 a.m.