Congratulations to Kasey Kahne who became the thirteenth different driver to win in the Cup series this season and get himself qualified for the playoffs. There are now only six races left before the start of the playoffs and we might see a few more first time winners this year before we get there. If we get another upset winner it will take away spots from those trying to get in on points so there should be some great racing coming up in the next month or so.
This week the series heads back to Pocono Raceway for the running of Overton’s 400. Ryan Blaney picked up his first Cup win in that race holding off Kevin Harvick who came in second. This track has three turns in it and is in a triangular shape. It is somewhat similar to Indy because of the long straightaways and long sweeping turns. Look for those who were strong last week to be strong once again this week.
Denny Hamlin: Denny was looking good last week at Indy even after getting a bunch of damage to the front of his car early in the race. I think he is going to get back to victory lane at a track where he used to dominate. He leads all active drivers with four wins here and has finished in the top ten in fourteen of his twenty-three starts. There is only one other active driver who has led more laps than Denny at Pocono.
Martin Truex Jr.: Martin has been the driver to beat almost every week for the past couple of months. When he isn’t the best on the track he is a close second. He and Kyle Busch had the two fastest, best handling cars last week at Indy and would have took it right down to the wire if they wouldn’t have wrecked together with over a quarter of the race left. I think Martin wins at least one of the stages again this week and competes for the win.
Kyle Larson: Kyle is another driver who has been very good all year on all types of tracks. He was quite disappointed with his finish last week after getting caught up in a wreck with Ty Dillon and blew a chance to gain some valuable points on Truex. Look for them to make sure they pass inspection this week and lay down some good laps during qualifying so they can start near the front of the pack instead of fighting for positions all the way from the back this week.
Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie is the active driver who has led more laps than any of the other active drivers on the circuit. He also has three wins at this track and nineteen top ten finishes in thirty-one starts here. This team has looked pretty good lately, but seems to be having some bad luck where they are getting caught up in accidents or losing an engine like he did last week while he was trying to take the lead late in the race.
Ryan Blaney: Ryan has only run three races at Pocono and has never finished worse than eleventh. With the win here is June of his year, this team will come into the weekend with a lot of confidence. He ran well at Indy last week before having some problems in the pits and getting mired back in traffic where he eventually got caught up in an accident that ended his day. I think he will do fine once again this weekend.
Kasey Kahne: Kasey picked up his last win here four years ago. Now that he is qualified for the playoffs this team can relax a little bit and that might be all he needs to run even better. I think this team still has a long way to go to be a legitimate contender for a championship, but winning a race is a step in the right direction. I think Kasey will be a bit more consistent now for the rest of the season.
Kurt Busch: Kurt has run just about as well as Jimmie has during his career at this track. He has three wins and nineteen top ten finishes in thirty-two races at this track and looked pretty good last weekend before getting caught up in a wreck late in the race at Indy. He said he needs to get more consistent since winning at Daytona this year and I think that consistency is coming.
Kyle Busch: Once again Kyle had a very dominant car, but failed to capitalize on it this past weekend. I don’t blame him for deciding to race Truex on a restart and he made perfect sense when he explained why he decided to do it. You can second guess him all you want, but no one will ever know what the outcome would have been if he would have let Martin take the lead and then fell in behind him at that stage of the race.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: This is probably Dale’s best shot of the remaining six races to make the playoffs. He has won two races here and finished in the top five in six of his last eight starts at this track. He was moving towards the front last weekend before he got caught up in a bottleneck that had him running into the back of Trevor Bayne and losing his radiator which knocked him out of the race. Look for him to give it his all this weekend.
Brad Keselowski: Brad has one win, three runner-up finishes, and eight top ten finishes in his fifteen starts at Pocono. This team has been a bit inconsistent over the past month or so, but I think it is because they are trying to do something different to win races because their car isn’t as good as the drivers who have been dominating those races. If they can get a good qualifying effort and start towards the front of the pack they will stay there all day long.
YAHOO! FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR POCONO RACEWAY
Yahoo Driver Group A
- Denny Hamlin
- Martin Truex Jr.
Yahoo Driver Group B
- Kurt Busch
- Kyle Larson
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
- Ryan Blaney
Yahoo Driver Group C
- Daniel Suarez
- Erik Jones
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT POCONO RACEWAY
- Denny Hamlin
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Brad Keselowski
- Kyle Larson
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dark Horse: Erik Jones
Stay Away From: Paul Menard
Big 18: Kasey Kahne