Pocono Raceway’s 2.5-mile tricky triangle has become the most unique track on the circuit, but the past couple of races there have been snooze-fests with little passing. There were just 11 lead changes in this race last season and only 13 in the July race, but I think Sunday’s Pocono 400 could be a bit different as a result of new package featuring aero ducts and engines producing 550 horsepower. The drivers aren’t quite certain what to expect with the bundle.
“This so tight in our game right now with this rules package,” said Clint Bowyer. “In qualifying at Charlotte last week, third-place through 16th-place qualifiers all ran 182 mph. At the race, the man leading will get back a few minutes later and struggle in 20th. It is just really, really tight right now and you can’t make any errors.”
Yes, it’s tight, and I like the kind of racing it has generated. Last week at Charlotte there were 30 lead changes among 11 drivers and 3 weeks ago at Kansas that there 23 lead changes among 12 drivers and at Texas, in late March there were 26 lead changes among 13 drivers. That’s some great parity with the past 3 races utilizing this exact package.
Teams are becoming better using it and discovering more rate to close the gap Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske has demonstrated this year by winning 12 of the 13 races so far with all the bundles. Chris Beuscher out of JTG-Daugherty Racing finished sixth last week at the Coca-Cola 600. Additionally, Roush Fenway Racing matters again using Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finishing fifth last week.
Obviously, Martin Truex Jr. won last week for the next time in the previous five of this program, a Gibbs car, and he was followed closely by Penske’s Joey Logano and in third-place was Gibbs’ Kyle Busch. There’s still a split with the elite groups, but others are catching up.
The upward progression with most teams becoming more familiar with all the new package should continue this weekend at Pocono. The bump drafting and side-drafting are likely to be a huge part of the equation on the longest straightaway on the Cup tour on Pocono’s front stretch. But passing in each of the three unique turns is what I crave the most.
The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has Kyle Busch recorded as the 3/1 gaming favorite to win and while he has not raced this package at Pocono however , he did he discuss in which he does his many departure.
“Most of your departure will be accomplished likely through turn one and off turn and getting into turn 2, and if somebody can get a good run off of turn two, get up high and get in line to get on that spot, getting into turn three,” Busch said. “Apart from that, then onewe simply can not get the cars to turn down there because there’s a lot of load on the bump stops from going 210 mph down the front straightaway and then trying to slow it down to about a’buck-40′ (140 mph). Turn two is kind of bumpy and type of rough.”
The new package with all the gear change has also taken away the shifting element, something I believed gave a few drivers an edge at certain areas of the track. What is the effect? .
“I don’t have any idea,” Busch said. “Shifting at Pocono has always sort of been when we went from changing to not shifting it didn’t do anything. It did not save anyone any money. It did not do anything. All it did was reduce gear temps. In my view, I think it’s better if you are able to change.
It required Busch 26 starts to get his first Pocono win at the second race of 2017. He was third behind Truex in this race and won again in July. But that package is gone and while he has three wins together with the newest packages this year, all of the wins came from the first eight races. It’s as if he handed a baton off to teammate Truex that has three of his wins in the last five.
Another Gibbs driver which has two of the eight wins for your company is currently Denny Hamlin, who appears to be the energetic leader with four Pocono wins. He’s seeking to regain the momentum he saw him finish 11th or better in the first nine races of this season. He’s been 16th or worse in his past four starts.
“We needed a really fast FedEx Toyota in Charlotte and it is crazy how many cars we passed across the length of the entire race, repeatedly going from the back to the front,” said Hamlin who has 11/1 odds to triumph this week. Regrettably , our finish doesn’t reflect how great of a vehicle we had, but I’m proud of this speed our staff brought to the race track and when we can bring that speed with us to Pocono, we’ll be in great position to win. Historically, the FedEx No. 11 has had some success and we will be entering Pocono convinced that we are able to secure another success.”
Hamlin’s last Pocono win came in 2010, but there is a reason to think this new bundle puts him at the serious competition class because as he said, he has had pace with this bundle which comprises a Texas win.
There’s two or three drivers I have in my radar this past week I believe have a great shot at winning.of it is from past success at Pocono, however most of it’s from the progression they’ve made with the race package.
How about Daniel Suarez at the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 at 40/1 chances who’d greatest Cup race with second-place in Pocono in July while driving for JGR.
“It was cool to get the pole there last year,” said Suarez. “Of course, it always helps to have a good starting place. You truly have to capitalize on a great starting place like that and also we were able to do this and finish second. I can not make mistakes and we can not have errors on pit road. Everybody has to do their part to execute perfectly. I truly feel like using the 41 group we continue making progress every weekend. At times the results might not just show it, but my guys do a great job and they never stop trying .”
Kurt Busch lately took the SHR No. 41 to victory lane at Pocono in 2016. The elder Busch brother gets the distinction of winning three times at Pocono with three different manufacturers — Ford, Dodge, and Chevrolet. He is 20/1 to triumph in his Ganassi No. 1 Chevrolet.
One of my favorites this week is Alex Bowman at 25/1 chances as Hendrick Motorsports is collectively getting better every week. Last week in Charlotte all four of the HMS car finished ninth or better. Bowman’s seventh-place finish ended a run of three straight runner-ups. He’s knocking on the door loudly.
“I love Pocono,” Bowman said. “We got a third-place end there last year and ran really strong throughout the entire race. Pocono is quite unique, and it’s different in the tracks we typically visit.”
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