Starting this weekend at Pocono Raceway, there will be a slight change in the qualifying procedure for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Qualifying order will still be determined based upon practice speeds – from slowest to fastest – with those times now coming from the first practice session (as opposed to the combined practice sessions). In addition, the qualifying order will no longer be separated between those teams that are locked into the race and those teams that must qualify on speed.
More Shifting Now Available At Pocono: Gear Ratio Changes
For practice, qualifying and the race, all competitors must compete with transmission gear ratios as follows: 1st gear optional; 2nd gear 1.70:1 or greater (1.699 or less will not be permitted); 3rd gear 1.14:1 or greater (1.139 or less will not be permitted); 4th gear must remain 1.00:1. Overdrive ratios will not be permitted.
This is an addendum to the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rule Book which states: Transmission gear ratios between 1.00:1 and 1.28:1 will not be permitted for the remaining forward transmission gears except road course Events. Overdrive gears will not be permitted.
Said John Darby, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Director: “There has been some confusion that shifting was not allowed at Pocono, and that isn’t true. The real reason shifting stopped at Pocono was because gear ratios weren’t compatible for shifting. Over the last few years, teams have done it with limited success but not on a consistent basis. So, what we did was change transmission gear ratios to make it easier on engines and give teams a better opportunity to use third gear and shift. Primarily it’s in an effort to allow the drivers to maximize the RPM on each of the three straightaways. When you look at the race track, you instantly see the issue that they’re faced with. The frontstretch is more than 3,700 feet [3,740], the backstretch or the Long Pond Straight is 3,000 [3,055] feet and the short straightaway between the Tunnel Turn and Turn 3 is only 1,780 feet. So consequently [there will be] a straightaway that you don’t get anywhere near your maximum potential RPM. This is all done in an effort to try to even those three straightaways out in the RPM that the engine will attain.”