Event: Pocono 400
Category: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Date: Monday, June 12th, 2017 – 12:00 AM IST on DSPORT
Location: Pocono Raceway, Long Pond, Pennsylvania
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Pennsylvania this week for the Pocono 400 race. The 2.5-mile ‘’Tricky Triangle’’ track has a triangular shape that features massive straightaways and three different corner layouts. The shape of the track and the setup of the corners make Pocono a unique stop on the NASCAR schedule.
Drivers who have solved the Tricky Triangle should be fast again this week. Six drivers have a driver rating over 100 in the last four races at Pocono. These drivers include Joey Logano (105.9), Matt Kenseth (105.6), Kurt Busch (104.5), Chase Elliott (102.8), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (102.1) and Kevin Harvick (102.1).
Here are the top contenders to look for the weekend’s race:
Martin Truex Jr.
Truex seems to have one of the fastest cars and is the best driver in the sport right now. The No. 78 car will be fast again this Sunday. He leads the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series point standings and he has finished nine of the 13 races in the top 10. Truex has not finished outside the top three in the last month. Truex won this race in 2015 and he is performing a lot better this year. Truex is my pick to go to Victory Lane Sunday.
Larson has finished six of the 13 races this season in the top five. He let one slip away at Dover, but Larson should be right back in the mix for a win this weekend. He has finished 12th or better in all six of his starts at Pocono, leading laps in four of those races. The last time the series visited the track, Larson led 37 laps on his way to a sixth-place finish.
Harvick is still looking for his first win of the season. This could be his golden week. Harvick has finished three of the last five races at Pocono in the top five. Stewart-Haas Racing always runs well at this track and the switch to Ford should make them even more competitive. Harvick has led laps in five consecutive races at Pocono. He should be leading some more on Sunday.
It has been a rough couple of weeks for Keselowski, but he will try his best to get on track at Pocono. Keselowski was the best driver at Pocono in 2016. He finished third in the June race and second in the August race last year. Races at Pocono often come down to fuel strategy and no team is better than Team Penske Racing.
Johnson has been a little hit and miss at Pocono recently, but you could have said the same thing about his recent record at Dover, and look how that turned out. He has three wins under his belt already at the “Tricky Triangle,” and he might end up getting his 4th win this weekend.
The veteran driver knows how to turn fast laps at Pocono. He won at the Tricky Triangle in 2015 and finished seventh in this race last year. Kenseth is still looking for his first win of this season. He has a good chance to finish upfront on Sunday.
Pocono is one of the best tracks for Busch. He has three wins at Pocono, including a trip to Victory Lane in this race last year. Busch has finished four of the last seven races at the track in the top five. The No. 41 car should easily finish in the top 10 this week.
Logano has three Top 5s here in his last five starts, and he was almost at the winning side in the 2015 August race but unfortunately his car went out of fuel with just two laps to go. Logano has led a combined 182 laps in that same stretch, leading 30-plus three different times.
It has been a while since Hamlin has dominated a race at Pocono, but the four-time winner is still good for a solid finish. He has five Top 15s in his last six starts at the track, including four Top 10s.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Earnhardt Jr. has not had a lot of success this year but his performance is improving with every race. Earnhardt finished 10th at Charlotte and 11th last week at Dover. Now he will get to race at his best track. Earnhardt has a series-best 5.6 average finishing position and the fifth-best driver rating in the last four races at Pocono.