Martin Truex Jr. became the eighth driver to qualify for the Chase on Sunday night when he won the Coca-Cola 600 in dominating fashion leading 392 of the 400 laps run. He was only passed once for the lead during a green flag run and quickly retook the lead. All in all a pretty boring race in my opinion, but congratulations to Martin and his team for making all of the right calls throughout the race. That is exactly how they are supposed to do it.
AXALTA WE PAINT WINNERS 400
This week the series heads to Pocono Raceway in the Pennsylvania mountains. Pocono Raceway is also known as “The Tricky Triangle” and is a two-and-a-half-mile track in the shape of a triangle with three different corners. Each of the corners has a different degree of banking and are configured with different entrances and exits which makes it difficult to get a car set up to run well through all three turns. The crew-chiefs will have their work cut out for them this week along with the drivers who have to try to relay pertinent information back to those crew-chiefs. Needless to say there will be quite a few frustrated drivers this weekend.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Dale is my pick to win this week’s race and become the ninth driver qualified for the Chase by virtue of winning a race. He won both races here in the 2014 season and has finished in the top ten in eight of his last ten starts here. This team is due to break into the win column and get back on track after a stretch where they have been struggling in almost every race they run.
Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie has three wins at this track, eleven top five finishes, and nineteen to tens in his twenty-eight starts here. It seems that drivers who spent time driving off-road courses during their careers do better than those who didn’t when racing at Pocono. I think that is because you almost need to have your car on the brink of sliding to get through all three turns with speed.
Denny Hamlin: Denny leads all active drivers with four wins at Pocono. Although he hasn’t visited victory lane here since the 2010 season, Denny still has nine top five and thirteen top ten finishes in his twenty starts at this track. This team doesn’t seem to be at the top of their game on a consistent basis, but I think this is one of the tracks they all look forward to coming to and I think Denny will run well this weekend.
Tony Stewart: If Tony is going to run well this season and win a race and make it into the Chase he is going to have to run well this weekend. This is one of the tracks that Tony has consistently run well on during his career with two wins, twelve top five, and twenty-three top ten finishes in thirty-four starts here. Tony is another of those dirt track drivers who knows how to get the job done at Pocono and he could be a surprise winner this weekend.
Kurt Busch: Kurt has two wins, twelve top five, and sixteen top ten finishes in his twenty-nine starts at Pocono. This team is looking for their first win of the season and are coming up on a stretch of tracks where they run consistently well. I look for Kurt to have another good run this weekend and think he will win a race over the next six weeks.
Carl Edwards: Carl also has two win at this track and is another driver who spent time racing on dirt tracks. Although he only has one top ten finish in his last six starts here and hasn’t won a race here since the 2008 season, this team has run consistently better all year so far and I think that will carry over into this weekend’s race. Look for Carl to come away with another top ten finish.
Ryan Newman: Ryan has one win, nine top five, and fourteen top ten finishes in his twenty-eight career starts at Pocono. This team has once again quietly run well this season and sooner or later they are going to surprise people by visiting victory lane again. Last year he finished both races not on the lead lap, but prior to last season he has five straight top ten finishes here.
Kyle Larson: Kyle has been running very well lately, and though he has only run four races at Pocono his worst finish is twelfth. His best finish is a fifth place finish which he picked up in his first race here and then he sat on the pole for his second start here. Kyle is another driver who has experience on dirt tracks and like I said before, that equates to running well at Pocono.
Kevin Harvick: Kevin is still looking for his first career win at Pocono and he is getting closer to that goal. he finished second in back to back races here in the fall of 2014 and the spring of 2015 season. This team can never be counted out of any race and they are capable of winning on any type of track. Look for Kevin to qualify well and run in the top ten most of the day and have a chance to win the race at the end.
Martin Truex Jr.: Martin won last weekend at Charlotte and he won this race at Pocono last season. This team will certainly not be lacking for confidence as they head into Pocono this weekend. With the dominating performance they put on last weekend and the way the Chase format is set up with more of the same type of track on the schedule, this team will be legitimate contenders once the Chase starts.
YAHOO! FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR POCONO RACEWAY
Yahoo Driver Group A
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Denny Hamlin
Yahoo Driver Group B
- Carl Edwards
- Tony Stewart
- Ryan Newman
- Kyle Larson
Yahoo Driver Group C
- Ryan Blaney
- Chase Elliott
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT POCONO RACEWAY
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Denny Hamlin
- Jimmie Johnson
- Kurt Busch
- Carl Edwards
Dark Horse: Tony Stewart
Stay Away From: Paul Menard
Big 18: Kyle Larson