Fresh off a 10th-place finish at the half-mile dirt track at Eldora Speedway, Max Gresham and Eddie Sharp Racing (ESR) now eagerly face another unique racetrack, nicknamed the "Tricky Triangle," at the Pocono Raceway. After a weekend hiatus, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) returns to action there on Saturday, August 3.
Gresham, the driver of the No. 8 Made in USA Brand (MIUSA) Chevrolet Silverado, will make his eleventh start of the season at the 2.5-mile triangle in Long Pond (Pa.) when the series hits the track for the Pocono Mountains 125.
The track is full of oddities, shaped like a coat hanger with three turns, three different radii and three variant degrees of banking. But Gresham believes his No. 8 Made in USA Brand Chevrolet Silverado is up for the challenge.
"We didn't know what to expect last week. It was the first dirt-track race in NASCAR since 1970. But we came out of there with a solid top-10 finish," Gresham said. "This Eddie Sharp Racing team was tested at Eldora Speedway and we passed the test. Now we'll be tested again at Pocono Raceway."
The first turn of the raceway, built on the site of a former spinach farm, is a tight 14-degree hairpin designed to resemble the corners of the now-defunct Trenton Speedway. Turn 2, famously known as the tunnel turn, is angled 90 degrees with nine-degree banking like the turns at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And the third turn is a long sweeping turn with just six degrees of banking like the Milwaukee Mile.
The track owners, Dr. Rose Mattioli and the late Dr. Joseph Mattioli, also built a pair of steeples behind the main grandstands to resemble horse racing's iconic Churchill Downs.
Though this will be his first start at the track in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Gresham has the advantage of having prior experience at Pocono Raceway. He started on the pole in 2011 with the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) Racing Series and he finished sixth. He's been able to bring what he learned in that race to his No. 8 Eddie Sharp Racing team.
"Basically, it's three straightaways," the Milner, Georgia, native said. "It's crucial to get a running start off the corners for the straightaways, especially that front straightaway.
"It's a big jump to go from a half-mile dirt track one week to Pocono the next. They're two completely different tracks and require two completely different approaches and mindsets. But I'm confident everyone at Eddie Sharp Racing is up for the challenge."
This weekend at the track will mark Chris Showalter's 450th race with the series, who has had perfect consecutive attendance in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series - not only this year, but for every race run in the series. The crew chief of the No. 8 Made in USA Brand (MIUSA) Chevrolet entry, Showalter is the only person who has worked all of the races.