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Party In The Poconos 400 

Sunday, 2pm, TNT

This weekend we are headed to The Tricky Triangle at Pocono Raceway. The only track of it’s kind on the circuit. This 2.5 mile track has three very different corners making getting your car just right rather difficult. Turn one has 14 degrees of banking. Turn two is just 8 degrees before turn three shrinks to just 6 degrees heading to the start/finish line.

Pocono is not known for it’s exciting races more so for being one of the more boring tracks on the schedule which baffles me why they get two races a year. That being said last year’s races here were rather fun given how they usually play out. Now we head to Pocono for the first time in the Gen 6 car we could see some better races and even faster speeds.

Regardless, we will be in for some long green flag stretches in which the cars get very spread out on the track making this one of the bigger track position races. If there is a gamble you think you can take to get your car to the front you have to make it. But that is rather tough to do during green flag stops.

With qualifying being rained out the drivers will start in the order of the current championship standings putting Jimmie Johnson on the pole with Carl Edwards outside row 1. This obviously hurts the guys that were trying to race their way in but it really hurts Denny Hamlin who will be forced to start 26th. Not that it’s impossible to race your way through the field but when the guys you are chasing to try and get into The Chase are all starting ahead of your it’s not a good thing. Especially given how good he has been here. When he was first thinking about what tracks he really needed to excel at to make this dramatic comeback Pocono was undoubtedly one of the first stops he had circled. Without the chance to qualify up front like he has the last two weeks he will start with quite a disadvantage.

Best Bets:

Jimmie Johnson 4-1

He is now the favorite after qualifying was washed out. How could he not be? He is starting on the pole and has the best team in the sport. While 4-1 might scare you away a bit think of it as a hedge. Oh and he has the best average finish amongst active drivers with an average finish of 9th place in 22 races including two wins and nine top 5’s.

Denny Hamlin 6-1

Despite starting far back in the pack he is still my pick to win tomorrow. As I’m sure he circled this Sunday as a race he had to win, I did as well. It’s time for him to start pushing and what better place than Pocono where he has won four times in fourteen races. Among active drivers that is second to just Jeff Gordon’s six career wins here unless you are counting Bill Elliott who seems to be getting more pub from me writing he doesn’t count as an active driver every week than he ever has...sorry Bill. Every time Denny comes to this track and doesn’t win it is a disappointment and he hasn’t won here in his last five starts. That’s tied for the longest streak of his career. He burst onto the scene here sweeping the two races here in 2006 before going five starts without winning here before winning the next two at this track. Now it’s been five starts since then and I fully expect him to win not one but both of the races at Pocono on this years schedule.

Jeff Gordon 15-1

The guy with six wins, the second best average finish of 10.15, and the guy who is on the outside of The Chase looking in with zero wins on the year is 15-1? He is going to be going all out trying to get that first win of the year. He would like to race his way in on points but at the very least he needs to get a win to give him at least a shot at a wildcard spot.

Tony Stewart 20-1

Of course the one week I don’t pick him he wins. Watching that race as a Smoke fan was the exact opposite of watching the Bruins/Penguins series as a Penguins fan. Sure he got a bit lucky with Jimmie Johnson allegedly jumping the restart but he still had to drive around Montoya to get the win and he did in Tony Stewart fashion. Qualifying being rained out really hurt his chances of building some momentum since he will have to start 21st but when the weather starts to warm up so does Tony Stewart. He should race his way up to the front like he has the last two weeks and at least have a punchers chance of winning this thing. 20-1 at the very least is great value for a two time Pocono winner.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

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