The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Pocono Raceway's 2.5 mile triangle for the 21st race of the 2014 season, the GoBowling.com 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, August 3; 1:19 p.m./et.
Weather: Isolated T-Storms with a high around 78; wind out of the SE at 5 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. Dale Jr., 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 16 races at Pocono. All 10 of these drivers are worth using.
43 cars will attempt to qualify for 43 spots.
Fantasy Cheat Sheet:
No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Junior won at Pocono earlier this season and finished third and fifth at Pocono last year. He is our top pick this trip to the track.
No. 24 Jeff Gordon: Gordon has six career victories at Pocono. He will was awesome at Indy and will bring a similar setup this weekend. He will be battling for the lead all day.
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson: Johnson has finished 15th or better in 22 of his 24 career starts at Pocono including a win last year. He is always a great choice to take the checkers.
No. 11 Denny Hamlin: Hamlin has been awesome at Pocono during in his career. In 15 starts he has four wins. We like what he did last week at Indy and could use the top five finish to regain a bit of his mojo.
No. 5 Kasey Kahne: Kahne won at Pocono last fall and led the most laps at Indy last weekend. He is a good fantasy option.
6 to 10
No. 2 Brad Keselowski: Keselowski has four top six finishes in his first nine trips to Pocono. He will have no issue cracking the top 10.
No. 14 Tony Stewart: Stewart won June 2009 race at Pocono and has finished in the top 10 an impressive 22 times at the track during in his career. Smoke will be flying again this weekend.
No. 15 Clint Bowyer: Bowyer won the fall race at Pocono in 2011 and has finished in the top 16 in 14 of the last 15 races at the track. He will have a good car again this weekend.
No. 41 Kurt Busch: Busch has been fantastic at Pocono during his career. He should be fast again this visit to the track.
No. 42 Kyle Larson: Larson was terrific at Pocono in June. He should be active in all leagues this weekend.
11 to 20
No. 31 Ryan Newman: Newman has finished in the top 18 in 16 of the past 17 races at Pocono. He could crack the top 10.
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. 99 Carl Edwards: Edwards, now a confirmed “lame duck” driver, has notched four top 11 finishes in the last six trips to the Pennsylvania hills. His status at Roush Fenway bumps him just outside our 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 nine races at Pocono. He should flirt with the top 10 this weekend.
No. 20 Matt Kenseth: Kenseth has finished inside the top 18 in 13 of the past 16 races at Pocono. He should have another fast sled on Sunday.
No. 22 Joey Logano: Logano was the top car in the field during the June race in 2012 at Pocono. He is a good choice once again this weekend.
No. 78 Martin Truex Jr.: Truex Jr. finished second at Pocono in 2012 and ninth earlier this year. He is worth using in all leagues.
No. 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Ricky improved his performance at Pocono earlier this year. He should flirt with the top 15 once again.
No. 3 Austin Dillon: Dillon drove a quality race earlier this year at Pocono. We like his chances to crack the top 20 once again.
21 to 30
No. 1 Jamie McMurray: McMurray has five top 10 finishes in 24 career Pocono starts. He won’t make it five on Sunday
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. 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 and Almirola drove very similar races at Pocono earlier this year. Look for the two to battle again this week.
No. 27 Paul Menard: Menard's average finish at Pocono is 23rd. He should finish right around his average this weekend.
No. 7 Michael Annett: Annett has slumped the past two races, but prior to that he had been driving great. He is a sleeper option this weekend.
No. 51 Justin Allgaier: Allgaier has cracked the top 30 in six of the last eight races. He has sleeper potential.
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. 10 Danica Patrick: Patrick is just a notch above the field filler category.
No. 34 David Ragan
No. 38 David Gilliland
No. 32 Travis Kvapil
No. 23 Alex Bowman
No. 83 Ryan Truex
No. 26 Cole Whitt
No. 40 Landon Cassill
No. 36 Reed Sorenson
No. 98 Josh Wise
No. 33 Alex Kennedy
No. 37 Dave Blaney
No. 66 Joe Nemechek
No. 93 Mike Bliss
My Yahoo! Fantasy NASCAR Team for this Week:
A. Jeff Gordon
B. Denny Hamlin
B. Ryan Newman
C. Kyle Larson