The NASCAR Cup Series will visit Pocono Raceway’s 2.5-mile tricky triangle for the second time this season for Sunday’s Gander Outdoors 400. It’s the most unique track on the circuit with three differing turns where the banking gets flatter with each one.
Two years ago in this race, Chris Buescher won, albeit rain-shortened, which paid out at 1,000-to-1 odds (not many had bet it), the largest payout ever in Las Vegas on a NASCAR race. However, that’s more of an anomaly. The teams with the most horsepower to get down the longest straightaway in the series have the edge here, which means more of the Big-3 doing their thing well.
Kevin Harvick won last week at New Hampshire to end a seven-week drought. He took over sole possession of the series win list with six wins on the season, the most he’s had in any season of a Cup career that stretches back to 2001. He’s having his best season at 43 years old, crazy. Kyle Busch has five wins this season and Martin Truex Jr. has four wins, including the June 3 race at Pocono. That’s 15 wins between three drivers in 20 races.
Yes, it’s top heavy, but at least it’s not just one driver like it started out with Harvick. Then it became two drivers with Busch and then three with Truex, who has won three of the past seven races. It would be nice to see one or two more drivers step up, but the drama between these three will do for now and hopefully we’ll see some action get feisty between them.
Kyle Busch wasn’t too happy about the bump Harvick put on him while leading last week at New Hampshire with just a couple laps to go. He won’t forget and he’ll get his revenge if a similar situation arises, and have no guilt whatsoever. Truex is too nice to get salty with anyone, but Busch and Harvick have a tumultuous history and the spark is there, along with a season championship, to fight hard for every finish position.
Just like last week, the Big-3 all finished in the top-five in the first Pocono race. There were 11 lead changes among seven drivers, but what I remember was hardly any passing. I don’t want to call it boring, but I do remember multi-tasking with something else on that Sunday while it was on TV and each time I returned to pay full attention, it was like nothing changed. So when I look at the results sheet from then I see nine of the same 10 drivers get points in the first two stages and eight of those drivers finished in the top-10. Harvick led the most laps (89) and finished fourth. In 35 career starts at Pocono, Harvick has never won there.
The active leader in wins at Pocono is Denny Hamlin with four. Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch each have three wins there and Kasey Kahne and Truex each have two. Kyle Busch has only one win there, which came last season. Busch has led laps there in his last six starts, three of which he started from the pole.
There’s nothing based on past history to suggest it’s more important than current form. Look for the Big-3 to roll again.