The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Pocono Raceway's 2.5 mile triangle for the 14th race of the 2013season, the Party in the Poconos 400. 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, June 9, 2013; 1:18 p.m./et.
Weather: Partly cloudy with a high around 72; wind out of the WNW at 9 mph. There is a 10% chance of precipitation.
The Track: Pocono Raceway
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 long race length places a premium on brakes and engine durability. Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon (thrice), Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin (four times) have won the last 14 races at Pocono. All nine of these drivers, except Kurt Busch, are great picks.
43 cars will attempt to qualify for 43 spots.
Fantasy Cheat Sheet:
No. 11 Denny Hamlin: Hamlin has been awesome at Pocono during in his career. In 12 starts he has four wins.
No. 14 Tony Stewart: Stewart won June 2009 race at Pocono and has finished in the top 10 in 13 of the last 15 races at the track. Smoke has finally broken his win slump and will be flying again this weekend.
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson: Johnson has finished 15th or better in 19 of his 21 career starts at Pocono. He will run his typical smart race and notch another top five finish.
No. 24 Jeff Gordon: Gordon has six career victories at Pocono. He will be battling for the lead all day.
No. 99 Carl Edwards: Edwards has notched back-to-back-to-back top 11 finishes. He will be fast again this trip to PA.
6 to 10
No. 5 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 great fantasy option this weekend.
No. 15 Clint Bowyer: Bowyer won the fall race at Pocono in 2011 and has finished in the top 16 in 11 of the last 12 races at the track. He will have a good car again this weekend.
No. 29 Kevin Harvick: Harvick has had plenty of past success at Pocono. He should have one of the fastest cars on the track.
No. 2 Brad Keselowski: Keselowski has two top five finishes in his first six trips to Pocono. If he can make it through pre-race inspection without another infraction he should crack the top 10.
No. 20 Matt Kenseth: Kenseth has finished inside the top 18 in 12 of the past 13 races at Pocono. He should have another fast sled on Sunday.
11 to 20
No. 39 Ryan Newman: Newman has finished in the top 18 in 13 of the past 14 races at Pocono. He will compete for the pole this weekend and should crack the top 15.
No. 22 Joey Logano: Logano took the checkers during the June race last year. He is a good choice this weekend.
No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Junior hasn’t had a ton of past success at Pocono. There are better weekends to use the No. 88.
No. 18 Kyle Busch: Rowdy has been awesome in just two of the last six races at Pocono. He will need luck to flirt with the top 10 this weekend.
No. 56 Martin Truex Jr.: Truex Jr. finished second last fall at Pocono, but that was far better than his average ride at the track. He will just miss the top 15.
No. 55 Mark Martin: Martin has finished in the top five in 20 of his 52 career starts at Pocono. No. 16 Greg Biffle: Even with Biff’s 2011 win, 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. 43 Aric Almirola: Almirola has been driving fantastic this season. He is worth using as a fourth driver in most leagues.
No. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya: Montoya has driven well on flat-tracks and is someone to use this weekend.
No. 31 JeffBurton: Pocono has been a good track forBurtonduring his career. With some luck he could be in the top 15 when the checkers fly late Sunday afternoon.
21 to 30
No. 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Ricky will struggle in his first cup start at Pocono’s difficult configuration.
No. 27 Paul Menard: Menard's average finish at Pocono is 20th. He should finish right around his average this weekend.
No. 78 Kurt Busch: Busch has been fantastic at Pocono during his career, but that was before his attitude bounced him from top echelon cars.
No. 9 Marcos Ambrose: Ambrose has had two top 10 finishes at Pocono since 2009.
No. 1 Jamie McMurray: McMurray has just four top 10 finishes in 21 career Pocono starts. He won’t make it five on Sunday.
No. 83 David Reutimann: Reutimann has been fast the last six races at the track and is a fine sleeper pick.
No. 10 Danica Patrick: Patrick is just a notch above the field filler category.
No. 51 A.J. Allmendinger: The Dinger is back behind the wheel of a cup car this weekend.
No. 47 Bobby Labonte: Labonte has three wins at Pocono in his career. With the way he is driving this season he is the best of the super cheap options.
No. 13 Casey Mears: Mears has averaged just a 25th place finish during his career at Pocono. He isn’t worth using.
No. 34 David Ragan
No. 38 David Gilliland
No. 7 Dave Blaney
No. 93 Travis Kvapil
No. 30 David Stremme
No. 35 Josh Wise
No. 33 Landon Cassill
No. 44 Scott Riggs
No. 98 Michael McDowell
No. 36 J.J. Yeley
No. 32 Timmy Hill
No. 87 Joe Nemechek
No. 19 Jason Leffler
My Yahoo! Fantasy NASCAR Team for this Week:
A. Denny Hamlin
B. Ryan Newman
B. Aric Almirola
C. David Reutimann