IndyCar returns to Pocono for 1st time since ‘89

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He’s last in the IndyCar Series standings.

“It’s not like an ideal start. But we’ll keep plugging away,” he said. “The trick will be to be competitive every weekend, then we’ve got half a chance of closing the gap.”

Franchitti can name three big wins this season he’d love to have on his resume. In bringing Pocono back to the schedule, IndyCar resurrected the “Triple Crown” challenge, a three-race competition in 2013 for $1 million to the driver that wins the Indianapolis 500, the 400-miler at Pocono and the season finale at Fontana, Calif. The challenge will give $250,000 if a driver wins two of the three races.

“To pull that off would be pretty massive,” Power said. “Three very tough tracks. It’s tough enough just to finish the three, let alone win the three. I don’t know much about the Triple Crown, to be honest.”

“There’s money involved, mate,” Franchitti said, laughing.

“It’s not a points system, it’s just if you won the three?” Power said. “Wow, I’m going to have to do that.”

The drivers will return July 4 for another open test. About 300 fans attended Wednesday’s test and Igdalsky said enthusiasm in the area is high for another race. Perhaps impressed by cool cars and sizzling speeds, plenty of fans lined up at the ticket window to snag a seat for the race on July 7.

Igdalsky said he wanted to check out an IndyCar race at St. Petersburg last season as a fan, but it morphed into a conversation with series officials that led to the return. He’s locked the track into a three-year deal with IndyCar. The open wheel series made its debut at Pocono in 1971 when Mark Donohue won the race when the series was known as USAC Champ Car Series.

Igdalsky also has looked at how other tracks expanded its use outside racing and plans for Pocono to host more than motor sports.

Dover International Speedway in Delaware, for example, will host the wildly popular Firefly Music Festival again in June.

“You look at the stadiums around the area and they’re all running these different events,” Igdalsky said. “Why can’t we do the same thing? Why can’t we add more events and get more people in the door here and have some fun? We’ve got this large stadium. Let’s use it.”

He also dismissed the idea that the market would be over-saturated with racing. NASCAR hits Pocono for Cup races on June 9 and Aug. 4.

“Do Eagles fans complain when they do three games in three weeks? It’s not any different,” Igdalsky said.

Igdalsky was vague on any safety changes the track may implement following a tragic end to last August’s Cup race when a lightning strike killed one fan and injured nine others.

“You always learn,” Igdalsky said. “We’ll update and we’re changing things, but we’ll let it go at that.”

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