The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Pocono Raceway's 2.5 mile “tricky” triangle for the 14th race of the season, the Axalta 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 7, 1:20 p.m./et.
Weather: Mostly cloudy with a high around 76; wind out of the SE at 5 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 TRICKY TRIANGLE
Pocono has three long straight-aways after each of the progressively less banked turns. With this year’s new car configuration the drivers haven’t needed to slow down as much entering corners and will be challenged to handle all the speed they will exit the turns with. This excess speed will wear on the engines and the driver’s nerves.
Junior swept both races at the track last season. Denny Hamlin was fast last weekend and is usually very fast at Pocono. Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick will again be the favorites in Vegas to take the checkers.
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 16 starts he has four wins. Prior to the accident last week at Dover he was the fastest car on the track.
No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Junior swept Pocono last year. He should be in contention all day Sunday.
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.
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson: Johnson has finished 15th or better in 22 of his 25 career starts at Pocono, including a win in 2013. He is always a great choice to take the checkers.
6 to 10
No. 24 Jeff Gordon: Gordon has six career victories at Pocono. He still is in search of his first win of the 2015 campaign and will be battling for the lead all day.
No. 2 Brad Keselowski: Keselowski has four top six finishes in his first 10 trips to Pocono. He should have no issue cracking the top 10.
No. 5 Kasey Kahne: Kahne is a two time winner at Pocono. He is a good fantasy option.
No. 19 Carl Edwards: Edwards is a two-time winner at the track in the Pennsylvania hills. He will battle for a top five finish this weekend.
No. 22 Joey Logano: Logano was one of the top cars in the field last fall at Pocono. He is a good choice again this weekend.
11 to 20
No. 78 Martin Truex Jr.: Truex Jr. finished second at Pocono in 2012 and ninth last spring. He is worth using in all leagues.
No. 15 Clint Bowyer: Bowyer won the fall race at Pocono in 2011 and has finished in the top 16 in 15 of the last 16 races at the track. He will have a good car again this weekend.
No. 31 Ryan Newman: Newman has finished in the top 18 in 17 of the past 18 races at Pocono. He could crack the top 10 with a little luck.
No. 18 Kyle Busch: Rowdy has been awesome in four of the last 10 races at Pocono. He should flirt with the top 10 this weekend.
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. 20 Matt Kenseth: Kenseth has finished inside the top 18 in 13 of the past 17 races at Pocono. He should have another fast sled on Sunday.
No. 42 Kyle Larson: Larson was terrific at Pocono last June. He should be active in all leagues this weekend.
No. 27 Paul Menard: Menard had been awesome the past month. Get him active in all leagues.
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.
No. 1 Jamie McMurray: McMurray has six top 10 finishes in 25 career Pocono starts. He won’t make it five on Sunday.
21 to 30
No. 3 Austin Dillon: Dillon was decent at Pocono last year. We like his chances to crack the top 20 once again.
No. 43 Aric Almirola: Almirola has been terrific lately, but he hasn’t had a ton of success at Pocono.
No. 47 A.J. Allmendinger: Dinger and Almirola drove very similar races at Pocono last year. Look for the two to battle again.
No. 10 Danica Patrick: Patrick has been terrible at Pocono during her career, but she is driving very well lately. Don’t be afraid to use her in most leagues.
No. 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Ricky flirted with a top 15 finish at Pocono last year.
No. 9 Sam Hornish Jr.: Hornish has averaged a 17th place finish the past month. He is someone to consider as a fifth driver.
No. 55 David Ragan: Ragan has been hit-or-miss since moving into the No. 55 car. Hopefully he can be hit this weekend.
No. 46 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. 13 Casey Mears: Mears has averaged just a 28th place finish during his career at Pocono. He isn’t much of an option.
No. 51 Justin Allgaier: Allgaier is slumping badly lately. He isn’t an option.
No. 6 Trevor Bayne
No. 33 Ty Dillon
No. 35 Cole Whitt
No. 7 Alex Bowman
No. 83 Matt DiBendetto
No. 38 David Gilliland
No. 98 Josh Wise
No. 23 J.J. Yeley
No. 40 Landon Cassill
No. 26 Jeb Burton
No. 62 Brendan Gaughan
No. 34 Brett Moffitt
No. 32 Mike Bliss
My Yahoo! Fantasy NASCAR Team for this Week:
A. Denny Hamlin
B. Clint Bowyer
B. Greg Biffle