The 2009 Allstate 400 at The Brickyard is history, and this week, the NASCAR Sprint Cup series comes to Pennsylvania for the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway.

There was drama at the finish in Indy after Jimmie Johnson capitalized on a mistake by Juan Pablo Montoya, who was caught speeding on pit road while leading the rest of the field by a huge margin.

Unlike some NASCAR conspiracy theorists, I don't think the penalty was called just to bring excitement to an otherwise ho-hum race. For NASCAR, victory at Indy by Montoya would have brought the sanctioning body the worldwide headlines it would dearly love. Another win by the Colombian-born Montoya would also highlight NASCAR's efforts to bring ethnic diversity to the sport.

But the fact is, up to that point, one of the diamonds in NASCAR's crown of showcase races was downright boring.


The answer is something that Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway have in common: both are flat 2.5-mile tracks. Combine those factors with what NASCAR calls "the new car," and drivers are unable to pass each other, making real racing almost non-existent.

That doesn't mean I think the series should no longer visit either track. I think the rich motorsports history of the Brickyard makes the annual visit by NASCAR one of its most entertaining events.
As for Pocono, I'm glad NASCAR makes two visits to the Keystone State every year. The closeness of the track is convenient, although we could do without the traffic nightmare getting into and out of the place.


But after years of hearing others in the NASCAR media contingent complain that 500 miles is too long of a race at Pocono, I finally have to agree. I've heard drivers make the same comment following races there, and I'm referring to the top three finishers. They've pretty much admitted that they just try to maintain good track position up until the last 50 laps or so, when it's finally "time to go."

Don't get me wrong. There is excitement at Pocono. Its wide frontstretch allows drivers to fan out, sometimes getting four-wide, in an effort to pass. And speeds are fast, with hard hits for drivers unfortunate
enough to get into the wall -- or each other.

Longtime fans remember the crash in 1988 that nearly ended Bobby Allison's life and did end his career.

It was deja-vu four years later when Allison's son, Davey Allison, flipped violently there.

Other memorable incidents at Pocono involved Jeff Gordon in 2006, Richard Petty in 1980 and Steve Park and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2002.

Wrecks are inevitable at "The Tricky Triangle" and shortening the race from 500 miles to 400 won't decrease their number.

But I think the racing would be better, and it would make for a shorter day at the track and in front of the television.

Ellen Siska writes about NASCAR for The York Dis patch. She can be reached at esiska@yorkdis