Pocono a Playground for Hall of Famers
by Tom Jensen June 25, 2021
Eighteen drivers who competed at Pocono Raceway are Hall of Fame inductees. Fifteen of them were winners at “The Tricky Triangle.”
With NASCAR headed to Pocono Raceway for a rare premier series doubleheader, it’s time to have some fun with both history and numbers.
Yeah, we know: You were told there would be no math.
Well, this edition of Curators’ Corner has a little bit of math, but it’s mostly fun math so here it goes: Since 2010, 55 people have been inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Of those 55, a total of 32 can be classified primarily as premier series drivers. Some, including Junior Johnson (2010), Lee Petty (2011), Tony Stewart (2020) and others, achieved success as owners and drivers. But for classification purposes, we’ll put the number of inductee premier series drivers at 32.
And that brings us to Pocono Raceway. The track hosted its first premier series race in 1974 and heading into this weekend the three-turn, 2.5-mile course, a/k/a “The Tricky Triangle,” has staged a whopping 86 races in NASCAR’s top division.
Given that Pocono didn’t open until NASCAR already had been in business for 25 years, many of the sport’s early legends and pioneers never had the chance to race there.
Specifically, of the 32 Hall of Fame inductees who were Cup drivers, 14 of them never competed at Pocono. That includes guys like Ned Jarrett (2011), Herb Thomas (2013), Fred Lorenzen (2015) and Red Byron (2018).
So, you take out the 14 Hall of Famers who didn’t get the chance to compete at Pocono and that leaves you with 18 who did race at the Tricky Triangle.
This is a track where Hall of Famers excelled.
The all-time leader in Pocono race victories is Jeff Gordon (2019), who won six times here. Bill Elliott (2015) won five times at this track, while Darrell Waltrip (2012) and Rusty Wallace (2013) each has four Pocono triumphs.
And here’s the truly remarkable stat: Of the 18 Hall of Fame inductees who actually raced at Pocono, 15 of them won at least one race. Twelve of the 15 won at least two races here and eight of them won at least three times.
So, if 18 Hall of Famers raced at Pocono and 15 of them won races, that means only three of the inductees who competed at the Pennsylvania track didn’t win there. Those three would be Buddy Baker (2020), Davey Allison (2019) and Mark Martin (2017).
Allison, meanwhile, had six top fives in 13 races at Pocono, with a best result of third in 1988, when he drove the No. 28 Ford Thunderbird for team owner Harry Ranier.
As for Martin, he had a whopping 54 Pocono starts, with 20 top fives, including six runner-up finishes between 1991 and 2012.
A final Pocono footnote: Alan Kulwicki’s (2019) final premier series victory came at Pocono on June 14, 1992. His Pocono winning car, chassis No. 007, is one of 18 championship-winning cars featured in the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s exhibit: “Dale Jr.: Glory Road Champions.”