LONG POND, Pa. — The billboard at the entrance to Pocono Raceway has photos of Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch and “First-Ever NASCAR Doubleheader” in bold letters.

The kicker comes at the bottom of the sign: “Kids Free.”

A grand gesture — and a needless one.

Keep the kids at home. Their parents, too. After allowing a small number of fans into races in Florida and Alabama, none will be allowed at this weekend’s races at Pocono.

The absence stings a bit more this season for a track that first held a Cup race in 1974. Pocono is the site of a Cup Series twin bill, with one race on Saturday, one on Sunday, and the second race comes with a twist. The field for Sunday’s race will be set by inverting the lead-lap finishers from race No. 1.

The tri-oval track has suffered its knocks through the years, and enthusiasm among drivers — and fans expected to bring their wallets and pack the infield for a Pocono Party unlike anyone could remember — was through the roof.

Joey Logano, the defending Cup champion, noted at this year’s Daytona 500 how Pocono had a distinct feel.

“Pocono used to just be a race in Pocono. It wasn’t a big deal,” he said. “Now it’s an event. There are two races in one weekend, and that’s a cool way of turning it into a big event.”

Talladega Superspeedway was allowed up to 5,000 fans for its race weekend and only 1,000 of them, mostly military members and their guests, were allowed two weeks ago at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Pocono is in Monroe County, which has entered Pennsylvania’s green designation. The green phase limits public gatherings to 250 people. But Gov. Tom Wolf’s guidance to professional sports mandates no spectators, even in green.

“Honestly, to me, it’s full house or nothing,” Pocono CEO Nick Igdalsky said. “We want to see that. That’s what makes us happy.”

Joe Gibbs Racing has drivers who have won the past five races at Pocono (though Martin Truex Jr’s 2018 win came with Furniture Row Racing), and Denny Hamlin won his fifth Cup race at the track last season. Kyle Busch and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick are 5-1 favorites on Saturday.

“I don’t have more to learn there and maybe some of the newer drivers will make the bigger strides from one race to the next,” said Hamlin, a Manchester High graduate who is one win from tying Jeff Gordon for the most wins at the track.

Saturday’s race is set for 325 miles, and Sunday is scheduled for 350 miles, sliced from the traditional 400.

Igdalsky, who said he did not have to lay off or furlough any Pocono employees, never considered asking to move the race weekend in hopes of accommodating fans later. Pocono held some high school graduation ceremonies and had NASCAR greats Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Jeff Gordon send video messages to students.

It will be a busy weekend: After an ARCA race Friday, the Truck Series and Cup race were set for Saturday and the Xfinity Series was scheduled Sunday ahead of the second Cup race. The compressed NASCAR schedule since the sport resumed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic has scratched some of the luster off the nonstop racing, leaving Pocono hopeful it gets another shot at the double in 2021.

“We’ll save it all for next year,” Igdalsky said.

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