The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Pocono Raceway's 2.5 mile triangle for the 14th race of the 2014 season, the Pocono 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 8; 1:20 p.m./et.
Weather: Isolated T-Storms with a high around 80; wind out of the SSE at 9 mph. There is a 30% 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 race places a premium on brakes and engine durability. Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne (twice), Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon (thrice), Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin (four times) have won the last 15 races at Pocono. All nine of these drivers are great picks.
43 cars will attempt to qualify for 43 spots.
Fantasy Cheat Sheet:
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson: Johnson has finished 15th or better in 21 of his 23 career starts at Pocono, including a win last year. Like a broken record he is our favorite to win again.
No. 11 Denny Hamlin: Hamlin has been awesome at Pocono during in his career. In 14 starts he has four wins.
No. 14 Tony Stewart: Stewart won June 2009 race at Pocono and has finished in the top 10 in 22 times in his career. Smoke will be flying again this weekend.
No. 5 Kasey Kahne: Kahne won at Pocono last fall and has been one of the better drivers at the track the past few races. He is a good fantasy option this weekend.
No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Junior finished third and fifth at Pocono last year. He will be fast again this trip to the track.
6 to 10
No. 24 Jeff Gordon: Gordon has six career victories at Pocono. He will be battling for the lead all day.
No. 15 Clint Bowyer: Bowyer won the fall race at Pocono in 2011 and has finished in the top 16 in 13 of the last 14 races at the track. He will have a good car again this weekend.
No. 99 Carl Edwards: Edwards has notched four top 11 finishes in the last five trips to the Pennsylvania hills. He will be fast again this trip to PA.
No. 4 Kevin Harvick: Harvick has had plenty of past success at Pocono. He should be one of the fastest cars on the track.
No. 41 Kurt Busch: Busch has been fantastic at Pocono during his career. He should be fast again this visit to the track.
11 to 20
No. 31 Ryan Newman: Newman has finished in the top 18 in 15 of the past 16 races at Pocono. He could crack the top 10.
No. 16 Greg Biffle: Biff has finally figured out Pocono the past few visits to the track. He is a great choice this weekend.
No. 18 Kyle Busch: Rowdy has been awesome in four of the last eight races at Pocono. He should flirt with the top 10 this weekend.
No. 2 Brad Keselowski: Keselowski has three top six finishes in his first eight trips to Pocono. He will just miss the top 10.
No. 20 Matt Kenseth: Kenseth has finished inside the top 18 in 13 of the past 15 races at Pocono. He should have another fast sled on Sunday.
No. 22 Joey Logano: Logano took the checkers during the June race in 2012. He is a good choice this weekend.
No. 78 Martin Truex Jr.: Truex Jr. finished second at Pocono in 2012, but that was far better than his average ride at the track. He will just miss the top 15.
No. 55 Brian Vickers: Vickers has averaged a top 20 finish at the triangle during his career. He should finish inside the top 20 once again.
No. 9 Marcos Ambrose: Ambrose has had three top 12 finishes at Pocono since 2009.
No. 27 Paul Menard: Menard's average finish at Pocono is 22nd. He should finish right around his average this weekend.
21 to 30
No. 43 Aric Almirola: Almirola has averaged a 22nd place finish at Pocono during his Cup career. He will take the checkers right around his average.
No. 47 A.J. Allmendinger: Dinger has been driving very well this season. He could crack the top 20 with a little luck.
No. 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Ricky struggled at Pocono last year and should still have a little trouble this visit to the unique track.
No. 42 Kyle Larson: Larson continues his surprising ROY campaign. He will be challenged at Pocono.
No. 3 Austin Dillon: Dillon will do well to crack the top 25 in his first trip to the Tricky Triangle.
No. 1 Jamie McMurray: McMurray has just four top 10 finishes in 23 career Pocono starts. He won’t make it five on Sunday.
No. 13 Casey Mears: Mears has averaged just a 25th place finish during his career at Pocono. He isn’t much of an option.
No. 7 Michael Annett: Annett has been quietly driving very well lately. He has two top 20 finishes in the past five races.
No. 10 Danica Patrick: Patrick is just a notch above the field filler category.
No. 51 Justin Allgaier: Allgaier has cracked the top 30 in three of the last five races. He has sleeper potential.
No. 26 Cole Whitt
No. 36 Reed Sorenson
No. 38 David Gilliland
No. 34 David Ragan
No. 33 Alex Kennedy
No. 23 Alex Bowman
No. 32 Travis Kvapil
No. 77 Dave Blaney
No. 83 Ryan Truex
No. 98 Josh Wise
No. 40 Landon Cassill
No. 66 Joe Nemechek
My Yahoo! Fantasy NASCAR Team for this Week:
A. Jimmie Johnson
B. Denny Hamlin
B. Tony Stewart
C. Michael Annett