Pocono Raceway’s 2.5-mile tricky triangle is the most unique track on the circuit, but the past couple of races there have been snooze-fests with little passing. There were only 11 lead changes in this race last season and only 13 in the July race, but that I think Sunday’s Pocono 400 might be a bit different as a result of new package featuring aero ducts and engines generating 550 horsepower. The drivers aren’t quite sure what to anticipate with the package.
“This so tight in our game at this time with this rules package,” stated Clint Bowyer. “In qualifying at Charlotte last week, third-place through 16th-place qualifiers all ran 182 mph. In the race, the man directing would get back a couple of minutes later and battle in 20th. It’s just really, really tight now and you can not make any mistakes.”
Yes, it is tight, and I enjoy the kind of racing it’s generated. Last week in Charlotte there have been 30 lead changes among 11 drivers and three months ago at Kansas that there 23 lead changes among 12 drivers and in Texas, in late March there were 26 lead changes among 13 drivers. That is some nice parity with the past 3 races utilizing this specific package.
Teams are becoming better using it and finding more speed to close the gap Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske has demonstrated this year by winning 12 of their 13 races thus much with all the packages. Chris Beuscher out of JTG-Daugherty Racing finished sixth last week in the Coca-Cola 600. Also, Roush Fenway Racing things again using Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finishing fifth last week.
Of course, Martin Truex Jr. won last week for the third time in the previous five of the program, a Gibbs car, and he had been followed closely by Penske’s Joey Logano and in third-place was Gibbs’ Kyle Busch. There is still a split with the elite teams, but others are catching up.
The up progression with the majority of teams becoming more acquainted with all the new bundle should last this weekend in Pocono. The bulge drafting and side-drafting are going to be a massive part of the equation on the longest straightaway on the Cup tour on Pocono’s front stretch. But passing in each of the 3 turns that are unique is what I crave the most.
The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has Kyle Busch listed as the 3/1 betting favorite to acquire and while he has not raced this package at Pocono however he did he share in which he does his most departure.
“Most of your passing will be done likely through turn one and off turn and getting into turn two, and if somebody can get a fantastic run off of turn two, get back up high and get in line to get on that spot, getting into turn three,” Busch said. “Besides that, in turn onewe simply can’t get the cars to flip down because there’s a lot of load on the bump stops from moving 210 miles down the front straightaway and then hoping to slow down it about a’buck-40′ (140 mph). Turn two is sort of bumpy and kind of tough.”
The new package with the gear change has also removed the shifting component, something I believed gave a couple of drivers a border at certain areas of the track. What is the consequence now? .
“I have no idea,” Busch said. “Shifting at Pocono has always sort of been — when we moved from shifting not to shifting it did not do anything. It did not save anybody any money. It did not do anything. Was decrease gear temps. In my opinion, I believe that it’s better if you’re in a position to shift.
It required Busch 26 begins to receive his first Pocono win in the second race of 2017. He was third behind Truex in this race and won again in July. However, that package is gone and while he has three wins with the newest packages this year, all the wins came in the first eight races. It is like he handed a baton off to teammate Truex who has all three of his wins at the previous five.
The other Gibbs driver which has two of the eight wins for your company is Denny Hamlin, who appears to be the active leader with four Pocono wins. He’s seeking to regain the momentum that saw him finish 11th or better from the first nine races of this season. He’s been 16th or worse in his last four starts.
“We needed a very fast FedEx Toyota at Charlotte and it’s crazy how many cars we passed across the length of the whole race, repeatedly moving in the back to front,” said Hamlin who has 11/1 chances to triumph this week. Unfortunately, our finish does not reflect how good of a vehicle we had, but I’m proud of this pace our team attracted to the race track and when we could bring that speed with us to Pocono, we will 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 victory.”
Hamlin’s final Pocono triumph came in 2010, but there is a reason to think this new bundle puts him at the serious contender category because as he stated, he’s had pace with this package which comprises a Texas win.
There’s two or three drivers I have in my radar this week that I think have a fantastic shot winning.of it is from past success at Pocono, but most of it’s from the progression they have made with the race bundle.
How about Daniel Suarez at the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 at 40/1 odds who had best Cup race with second-place in Pocono in July while forcing for JGR.
“It was cool to find the pole there last year,” said Suarez. “Of course, it always helps to have a good starting spot. You really have to capitalize on a good starting position like that and also we had the ability to do this and finish second. I can’t make mistakes and we can’t have mistakes on pit road. Everybody has to do their part to execute perfectly. I really feel like using the 41 team we continue making progress every weekend. Sometimes the results might not exactly show it, but my guys do a great job and they never stop trying ”
Kurt Busch recently took the SHR No. 41 to victory at Pocono in 2016. The elder Busch brother has the distinction of winning three times at Pocono with three unique producers — 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 odds as Hendrick Motorsports is collectively getting better each week. Last week at Charlotte all four of those HMS automobile 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 adore Pocono,” Bowman said. “We got a third-place finish there last season and ran really strong during the whole race. Pocono is very unique, and it’s different from the monitors we typically go to.”
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