And the beat goes on. Kevin Harvick won his sixth race of the season beating Kyle Busch in a close contest in a rain delayed race at New Hampshire this past weekend. With only a few laps left in the race and Harvick putting a lot of pressure on Busch he finally used the bumper to move Kyle out of the groove and pass him as he headed to the checkered flag. Kyle held on to easily finish second while the last of the big three, Martin Truex Jr., finished fourth.
That leaves the big three with fifteen wins in the twenty races run so far this season with Clint Bowyer the only other driver to win a non-restrictor plate race. If you are the fan of a Chevrolet driver you might be in for a long rest of the season. Chase Elliott led for a little while during this race, but it is clear there really is no one who can compete with the big three on a weekly basis and Chevrolet is still looking for their first win of the season on a track that isn’t a restrictor plate track.
GANDER OUTDOORS 400
Now there are only six more races left before the playoffs and points mean everything to make it into the playoffs. I think it is going to be hard to knock any of the top three drivers out of any round of the playoffs and they will probably all head to Homestead-Miami with a shot at this year’s championship. The question is who will join them and can anyone improve enough to knock one or more of them out of contention?
This week the series heads back to the Pocono Raceway for the running of the Gander Outdoors 400. Martin Truex Jr. won the race here in June with Busch and Harvick finishing third and fourth respectively in that race. This big two and a half mile track should favor the faster cars once again this weekend and I would expect similar results to the June race. Handling is at a premium with three differently shaped corners and drivers and crew chiefs have to figure out how to setup their cars to be at their best in all of those corners if they want to compete for the win.
Kevin Harvick: I am going to go with Harvick to win his seventh race of the year. He has finished in the top five in his last four starts here with two of those finishes being runner-up finishes. I think he takes the next step and moves back to victory lane this time and adds to his playoff point lead for the moment. All he needs to do is try and stay far enough away from Kyle at the end of the race so he doesn’t receive payback.
Brad Keselowski: Brad could be a driver you might want to use to save starts for the big three or use him to make a move in your league. Not to be outdone by Kevin at Pocono lately, Brad has finished in the top five there in his last six starts. Once again he didn’t win any of those races, but that doesn’t mean he can’t win one now. He will need to have the same handling he had in those races and I think he will be a contender this weekend.
Martin Truex Jr.: Seeing he won the race here in June he has to be considered one of those to beat this weekend again. His consistency hasn’t been quite as good as the two mentioned above, but he has finished in the top six in his last three starts and has led laps in six of his last seven starts at Pocono. He has also started on the front row in three of his last four starts there.
Kyle Busch: Kyle won this race last year and has three straight top ten finishes here. He has also sat on the pole in three of his last six starts and led laps in all of those races. Pocono is notorious for having rain and there is a better than average chance that qualifying might be rained out and that would mean the big three would all start towards the front of the field and get to choose their pit stall that way.
Chase Elliott: Chase gave a valiant effort once again last weekend as he tries to score his first Cup win. He has run very well at Pocono in his five races that he has run there finishing in the top ten in four of those starts. I just don’t feel this team has quite the speed it will take to get that first win right now unless everything goes exactly right for them. They need to be flawless on pit road as well as on the track to have any chance at a win, but a top ten finish is a definite possibility once again this weekend.
Kurt Busch: Kurt was really strong last weekend at Loudon and was looking like he might get his first win of the season when on his last pit stop as he was trying to get into his pit, Ryan Blaney who was in the stall right behind him was ready to exit his box. They both stopped and waited for just a second or two, but that was enough to send Kurt out well behind some of the other drivers and he never recovered. He has run very well at Pocono in his career with three wins here and nineteen top ten finishes in thirty-four starts. He is worth having on your team this weekend.
Ryan Blaney: Ryan picked up his first ever Cup win in the June race last season. In his five starts here he has finished in the top eleven four times. He started on the pole in the June race this year and has started in the top five in his last three starts at Pocono. This team seems to be fast on the short runs, but when it comes to longer runs they seem to fade. They need to figure out how to build both short and long run speed into the car to compete with the big three.
Kyle Larson: Kyle finished second here in June and has probably been the closest of all the Chevrolet drivers to being able to compete with the big three on a more consistent basis this year. In nine career starts at Pocono he has only finished outside the top twelve once. That is pretty amazing for this track. He could compete for a win here once again as this is his type of track with three different types of corners to negotiate.
Matt Kenseth: Matt will once again get behind the wheel of the number 6 car this weekend at Pocono. He hasn’t done much in practice or qualifying in the races he has run so far this year, but his finishes are getting better. He ran the June race here and finished thirteenth and finished fifteen at New Hampshire this past weekend. He could be another driver you could have on your roster to take a chance on this weekend as he has finished in the top ten here in five of his last seven starts.
DRIVER GROUP GAME FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR POCONO RACEWAY
Driver Group Game Group A
- Kevin Harvick
- Brad Keselowski
Driver Group Game Group B
- Kurt Busch
- Chase Elliott
- Ryan Blaney
- Matt Kenseth
Driver Group Game Group C
- Chris Buescher
- William Byron
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT POCONO RACEWAY
- Kevin Harvick
- Brad Keselowski
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Kyle Busch
- Kurt Busch
Dark Horse: Chase Elliott
Stay Away From: Joey Logano
Big 18: Brad Keselowski