Pocono will be a ‘different world now’ with Cup rules package

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Why does William Byron think Pocono Raceway will be “even trickier” for Cup drivers this weekend?

They’ll drive cars at the “Tricky Triangle” with 550 horsepower and aero ducts, leading to increased “downforce and straightaway speeds being a little slower,” Byron said in a media release.

Sunday’s event will be the first Cup race since Dover on May 6 to use brake ducts instead of aero ducts.

“I think it’s going to make it a little more similar to the Truck Series race there and that was one of my best races,” Byron said.

In the Hendrick Motorsports driver’s one Truck Series start at Pocono in 2016, Byron started from the pole, led 44 of 60 laps and won.

The package’s first use at Pocono has led to questions of how it will impact the racing.

“It’s a different world now,” said August 2016 Pocono winner Chris Buescher in a media release. “We won’t be shifting and we won’t know what to expect with the corner speed. I would imagine that the Tunnel Turn (Turn 2) should be pretty easily wide open now, but (Turns) 1 and 3 still have some big unknowns to them.”

Wood Brothers Racing’s Paul Menard predicts “big drafts on the straightaways and not as much braking as before.”

“And with the new transmission rules, you’ll be wanting to shift but with the third gear (and how) we’re now required to use it would probably just blow the engine,” Menard said in a media release.

Kurt Busch, a three-time Pocono winner, says the rules package “definitely changes the game” when it comes to the 2.5-mile triangle. That includes in qualifying and whether or not drivers will lift off the throttle entering Turn 1.

“It is one of the toughest turns,” Busch said Thursday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “With the draft, you’re definitely going to have to lift because of the extra speed that you’ll gain. But maybe in qualifying, it’s going to be that moment of ‘Do I hold it wide-open and see if it sticks or do I crack the throttle and make sure I still survive the other couple corners?'”

Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon says getting off Turn 3 to get a good run on the front stretch is “pretty key.”

“Just think of it like running a mile and losing a shoe,” Dillon said in a media release. “It’s not fun when your car is not turning off that corner and you are tight and you can’t get back to the gas.”

Martin Truex Jr. looks at the track a little differently. The two-time Pocono winner thinks all three corners are “all important.”

“Years ago, you would go there and you’d hear guys say they were focused on Turn 3 as the most important and today if you go there and you don’t have all of them really, really good, you’re going to get your butt kicked,” Truex said in a media release. “That’s honestly the way it works.”