If you mouse over the triangle in the upper right-hand side of the Pocono Raceway website, you can see the track dimensions. Those numbers give you a pretty good idea why this track drives crew chiefs crazy.
Facts and Figures
First – how tight are the turns? The larger the number, the easier it is to make the turn. Second: how much banking is there? The less banking, the harder it is to make a fast turn. The third graph shows you how much force – in pounds – is necessary for the tires to generate when taking each of the three corners.
The factors determining how much turning force you need to take a corner without hitting the wall depends on: the speed, the turn radius, the coefficient of friction, and the banking.
- The turning force is proportional to the square of the speed. If you want to go twice as fast, you need four times as much force.
- The turning force is inversely proportional to the turn radius. The tighter the turn, the more force you need.
- Banking helps you turn. The turning force that has to be generated by the tires is less when there is more banking. (For the sticklers: yes: when the car is on the banking, less of the car’s weight acts perpendicular to the surface, so there isn’t as much of the car’s weight pushing the tires into the track as there would be on a flat track. Even so, having the banking compensates for the reduced normal force.)
If you compare the lengths of the straightaways preceding the turns, the setup makes perfect sense: Although Turn 1 is the tightest turn, it also has the highest banking. You’re coming down a long straightaway, so the steep banking helps you make the turn without slowing down too much.