Race Weekend Central

Kahne, others near 180 mph mark at Pocono testing

The second day of testing at the newly paved Pocono Raceway resulted in even faster speeds Thursday on the 2.5-mile tri-oval. Kasey Kahne turned the fastest lap at 179.490 mph, following closely by Jamie McMurray with a speed of 179.401 mph. Kahne and McMurray were joined by Mark Martin(179.390 mph), Jeff Gordon (179.272 mph) and Paul Menard (179.005) as the only drivers to top the 179 mph mark.

Four-time Pocono winner Denny Hamlin thinks the new surface will add to closer racing at the track known as the Tricky Triangle for its three distinct corners.

“The race track is very fun in the sense of how they graded it and smoothed it out in different places. It’s still Pocono, but it drives very different than what it used to. You’re getting a feel of a lot of different race tracks here within the Pocono Raceway,” Hamlin said. “You’re going to see massive dive bombs going into the corner trying to get position. My estimation – you’re going to see a lot of excitement. Anyone who takes time trials on Friday is going to break the track record (172.533 by Kasey Kahne in June 2004). All the cars should break the track record easily. Really, you drive it totally different than what you used to.”

Just as, if not more, important than the increased speed is the safety of the tires on the track. NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton was pleased with the results from both the safety and competitive side of things.

“It’s been really smooth,” Pemberton said. ”All in all it’s been really positive in the garage area. (The track is) definitely faster but with the amount of grip that’s here, you’ll see the grooves widen out. With the 400 mile race and the outstanding job Goodyear did with these tires, I think we’re in for an exceptional weekend.”

Jimmie Johnson ran 53 laps Thursday afternoon, the most of any driver. However, he topped out at No. 19 on the speed chart with his fastest lap being 176.769.

Twitter and NASCAR team up to enhance digital experience

Whether you are at the race, watching on TV, or maybe pulled away from your weekly NASCAR race for family reasons, Twitter and NASCAR have teamed up to make the digital experience more exciting for race fans. To find out more about what’s going on in NASCAR now, go to Twitter.com/#NASCAR to get the most up to date news and photos from the track. The agreement, reached earlier this spring, happened for real Wednesday when Twitter went live with its NASCAR production.

“Twitter brings fans closer to the sports and moments they’re most passionate about,” said Jack Dorsey, co-founder and executive chairman at Twitter. “The innovation of the NASCAR organization, the spirit of the fans, and the personalities of the drivers all shine on Twitter, making NASCAR a natural partner for us.”

“Twitter.com/#NASCAR will offer fans an all-access pass to the race weekend action as it unfolds on the track, in the pit, in the garage and in the stands.”

NASCAR and Twitter are also teaming up with broadcast partner Turner Sports that will allow fans to see important information via Twitter. Also, fans who search Twitter with #NASCAR will get the most recent and important information at the track from drivers, crews and family members.

“This is an exciting weekend for the NASCAR industry. We are pleased to be able to partner with Twitter and bring a great cutting-edge digital experience to our fans. This is a great extension of our strategy of innovation in the digital space to enhance the fan experience with our sport,” said Marc Jenkins, NASCAR vice president of digital media. “Reflective of the strength of NASCAR’s fan base and the sport’s cutting-edge use of social media and Twitter in particular, the sanctioning body is pleased that Twitter partnered with NASCAR to launch this product and we look forward to a long and healthy relationship coming out of this weekend’s launch in Pocono.”

Special camera to give fans special view of the pits

While NASCAR fans see what happens during a pit stop, there is a lot of activity in the pits before and after stops too. During Sunday’s Pocono race on TNT, fans will get a different look at the pits with a special 360-degree camera in Carl Edwards’ No. 99 stall. The Race Buddy camera will be featured on NASCAR.com during the race and will allow fans to turn the camera with their mouse to see the action as they please.

“This will give the fans a unique opportunity to see what goes on in the pits during the race,” said Bob Osborne, crew chief of the No. 99 Ford. “While television shows what is happening on the track, this camera will show what goes on behind the scenes. There is a lot of activity, especially before and after pit stops, that many fans probably are not aware goes on throughout the race.”

Edwards will be racing a Frosted Flakes Ford at Pocono. He comes into the race 12th in the points standings and without a win this season.

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