The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Pocono Raceway's 2.5 mile triangle for the 21st race of the 2011 season, the Good Sam RV 500. Brian Brown took a look at past performances, season trends, and talked to NASCAR contacts to predict how the field should finish on Sunday.When:
Sunday, August 7, 2011; 1:19 p.m./et.Weather:
Scattered T-storms with a high around 82; wind out of the NW at 7 mph. There is a 30% chance of precipitation.The Track:
Pocono Raceway is a 2.5 mile tri-oval with three completely different banked turns. It has 14 degree banking in turn one, eight degree banking in turn two, and six degree banking in turn three. Key to Race:
THE POCONO TOUGH TRIANGLE
Pocono has three long straight-aways after each of the turns. This unique configuration forces engines to run at high RPM levels three times on each lap. The TOOOO long race length places a premium on brakes and engine durability. Greg Biffle
, Jimmie Johnson
, Kasey Kahne
, Carl Edwards
, Jeff Gordon
(twice), Kurt Busch
and Denny Hamlin
(four times) have won the last 11 races at Pocono. All seven of these drivers are great picks. Qualifying Procedures:
47 cars will attempt to qualify for 43 spots. Cars not in the top 35 in the 2011 owner point standings will have to qualify based on speed. Starting positions 1-43 will be determined by qualifying runs on Saturday, August 6 at 10:40 pm/et.Fantasy Cheat Sheet:Top 5
No. 11 Denny Hamlin
: Hamlin has been awesome at Pocono during in his career. In 10 starts he has four wins.
No. 24 Jeff Gordon
: Gordon has five career victories at Pocono. He should be battling for the lead all day.
No. 22 Kurt Busch
: Busch won two of the last 12 Pocono races. This is a great opportunity for the No. 22 team to notch another strong finish.
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson
: Johnson has finished 15th or better in 17 of his 18 career starts at Pocono. He will run his typical smart race and should improve on June's fourth place finish.
No. 29 Kevin Harvick
: Harvick has had plenty of past success at Pocono. He should be one of the fastest cars on the track.6 to 10
No. 99 Carl Edwards
: Edwards has a miserable race at Pocono in June. He will rebound this weekend and is a solid pick.
No. 14 Tony Stewart
: Stewart won June 2009 race at Pocono and has finished in the top 10 in 10 of the last 12 races at the track. Smoke will be flying again this weekend.
No. 39 Ryan Newman
: Newman has finished in the top 18 in the past 12 races at Pocono. He will compete for the pole this weekend and should crack the top 10.
No. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya
: Montoya appeared to figure Pocono the past two seasons. He has driven well on flat-tracks and is someone to use this weekend.
No. 18 Kyle Busch
: Rowdy has been awesome in two of the last three races at Pocono. He should flirt with the top 10 this weekend.11 to 20
No. 17 Matt Kenseth
: Kenseth has finished inside the top 18 in the past 11 races at Pocono. He should have another fast sled on Sunday.
No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
: Junior needs to fix his season and fix it fast. Look for him to take some chances at Pocono.
No. 16 Greg Biffle
: Even with "Biff's" win last summer, Pocono has never been one of his better tracks. He will finish inside the top 20, but we don't think he crack the top 10 again.
No. 5 Mark Martin
: Martin has finished in the top five in 19 of his 49 career starts at Pocono. We project he will finish just outside the top 10.
No. 33 Clint Bowyer
: Bowyer finished in the top 16 in eight of the last nine races at Pocono. He will have a good car again this weekend.
No. 4 Kasey Kahne
: Kahne has always been awesome during qualifying at Pocono and he has been one of the better drivers at the track in race-trim the past few races. He is a decent fantasy option this weekend.
No. 31 Jeff Burton
: Pocono has been a good track for Burton during his career. With some luck he could be in the top 15 when the checkers fly late Sunday afternoon.
No. 00 David Reutimann
: Reutimann brought a very strong and fast car to Pocono in three of the last five races. He should be back in the top 20.
No. 56 Martin Truex Jr.
: Truex Jr. has averaged a 16th place finish in his six career starts at Pocono. We think he will finish right around his average on Sunday.
No. 6 David Ragan
: Ragan has been terrible at Pocono in three of the last five races, but with how well he is driving the past few months he could surprise. 21 to 30
No. 20 Joey Logano
: Logano has averaged a 20th place finish at Pocono during his young career. He will just miss cracking the top 20 this trip to Long Pond.
No. 2 Brad Keselowski
: Keselowski has finished 23rd, 20th and 21st in his first few trips to Pocono. We see him finishing just outside the top 20 once again.
No. 83 Brian Vickers
: Vickers has had some success at Pocono in his career. Don't be afraid to use him as a fourth driver in all leagues.
No. 78 Regan Smith
: Smith has never finished outside the top 35 at Pocono during his career. He is an interesting sleeper pick.
No. 1 Jamie McMurray
: McMurray has just three top 10 finishes in 17 career Pocono starts. He won't make it four on Sunday.
No. 43 A.J. Allmendinger: A.J. has been decent, but not great in the past four Pocono races. He is just a fifth driver in all leagues.
No. 27 Paul Menard
: Menard's average finish at Pocono is 24th. He should finish right around his average this weekend.
No. 13 Casey Mears
: Mears has had a disappointing season so far. He isn't very much of an option at all.
No. 9 Marcos Ambrose
: Ambrose finished sixth at Pocono in June of 2009, he has struggled since. He isn't an option.
No. 47 Bobby Labonte
: Labonte has three wins at Pocono in his career. With the way he is driving the past few races he is the best of the cheap options.Field Fillers
No. 7 Robby Gordon
No. 32 Mike Bliss
No. 34 David Gilliand
No. 51 Landon Cassill
No. 36 Dave Blaney
No. 71 Andy Lally
No. 38 Travis Kvapil
No. 37 Scott Speed
No. 87 Joe Nemechek
No. 46 Erik Darnell
No. 35 Geoff Bodine
No. 30 David Stremme
No. 77 Scott Wimmer
No. 55 J.J. Yeley
No. 50 T.J. Bell
No. 60 Mike Skinner
No. 66 Michael McDowellBrownie's PicksTop Four:
1. Denny Hamlin
2. Jeff Gordon
3. Kurt Busch
4. Jimmie JohnsonSleepers:
1. Regan Smith
2. Bobby LabonteBust of the Week: