What: Axalta presents the Pocono 400
When: June 11th
Where: Pocono Raceway, Long Pond, PA
2016 Winner: Kurt Busch
Back to back winners (Austin Dillon at Charlotte and Jimmie Johnson at Dover)!
Track: Pocono Raceway - built in 1969 and opened in 1971, this 2.5 mile asphalt triangle is best known for it's distinctive non-oval or circular shape. Turn one (14 degrees) is modeled after Trenton Speedway, turn two (8 degrees) after Indianapolis Motor Speedway and turn three (6 degrees) is after the Milwaukee Mile. Due to the different angles and styles, drivers have to make constant adjustments for each turn, mental fortitude is a must here.
A Driver. (there is an open field this week, Brad Keslowski, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano have all had recent success here)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. My second Dale selection of his retirement year comes at Poconos where he won twice in 2014, finished 11th and 4th in 2015 and was 2nd last year before he incurred his concussion 4 races later and was done for the year. He's been working himself into good form over his last 5 races where he went from 22nd at Talladega to 20th at Kansas to 10th and 11th at Charlotte and Dover, I see a top ten finish at the Poconos.
Clint Bowyer. Taking out his 31st place finish at Dover due to an oil pan that wrecked him and put him 15 laps back, Clint has 8 consecutive top 15 finishes prior to that. Add to this his decent track record at Poconos where he has top 20 finishes in 4 of his last 6 races here and I think his quality car can land a top 10 finish.
Ryan Newman. 4 top 15 finishes in his last 6 races, last year he finished 12th both times here, most importantly he will be unveiling the new Velveeta logo on his car. The final point is my attempt at cheesy humor. I do think Ryan could be contending for the cup this year deep into the playoffs, he is patient and consistently producing right now.
Daniel Suarez. Watching his excellent driving at Dover solidified his selection at an equally challenging Pocono.
David Ragan. 2016 results at the Pocnonos: 23rd and 32nd; 2015 results: 23rd and 17th, 2014 results: 18th and 19th. He is as good a bet as any in the C group for a top 20 finish. Additionally, he's had 3 top 20 finishes in his last 5 races (the most recent race at Dover he crashed into the wall in the last 10 laps), his car looks to be in good form.
Year to date stats:
A Drivers: Avg Finish 11th (31st percentile)
B Drivers: Avg Finish 14th (41st percentile)
C Drivers: Avg Finish 17th (48th percentile)
Dark Horse Drivers: Avg Finish 19th (55th percentile)