Driver Handicaps For Pocono
June 15, 2001 | 12:00 A.M. EST
Dale Jarrett - Like Gordon, DJ has known triumph and trouble at Pocono. His win here in 1997 may have saved his career at Robert Yates racing. Jarrett also broke his leg in qualifying at Pocono. DJ has finished in the top 5 in the last eight Pocono events, and has two wins at the triangular track.
Sterling Marlin- Marlin blew an engine finished 42nd here last time out, but this is a whole new team with a whole new car. Only three top 5's in the last 22 races at Pocono with a best result of 4th twice (1995 and 1999)
Ricky Rudd- Rudd has never won here, but has finished 2nd three times. Certainly the Robert Yates team has an enviable record here at Pocono, and once again Rudd would be a good dark horse contender for the win.
Tony Stewart- Stewart had never finished worse than 6th at Pocono in three career races at the track until last July's event when he wound up 26th.
Rusty Wallace- Yet another good driver whose had good and bad days at Pocono. Rusty is a four time winner at Pocono, but in this race in 1999 he cut a tire and said it was the hardest hit he'd had in his career. Wallace won the last Cup race at Pocono when his teammate Jeremy Mayfield cut a tire while Wallace was running second.
Johnny Benson- This race was a reality check for last year's Cinderella team with a 34th place result. Pocono hasn't been a good track for Benson who has only one career top 10 finish here offset by six finishes of 25th or worse.
Steve Park- Pocono is actually closer to Park's Northport home than Watkins Glen, but Steve didn't give his hometown fans much to cheer about last year with two 15th place finishes. Best career finish at Pocono in four tries has been an 8th place.
Kevin Harvick- This track is going to be a unique challenge for Harvick as he's never raced a Busch car or a Craftsman truck here. Still Kevin is driving for the team that was leading the race on the last lap in this event last year. Having to commute between Kentucky and Pennsylvania will add that much more to the challenge.
Bobby Labonte- Early in his career this track was a nightmare for Labonte, but he won both races here in 1999, and has only missed the top 6 here once in his last five starts.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.- Pocono is not an easy track for a rookie to get a handle on, even a talented rookie. Junior managed a 19th and 13th place result here last year in his first two visits to the Pennsylvania Triangle. Still that's better than his dad did as a rookie. Dale Senior was injured in a wreck back in 1979 and missed the next four races.
Bobby Hamilton- Historically this hasn't been a good track for Hamilton who normally runs well on the low banked tracks. Only one career top 5 and a total of two top 10 finishes in nineteen Pocono starts. Hamilton probably didn't head home with any postcards as keepsakes of Pocono last year after finishing 40th and 39th.
Matt Kenseth- While Pocono can be tough on rookies Matt didn't too badly at Pocono last year. 5th here in last Fall's race and 14th in this race last year.
Mark Martin- While Martin has never won here he has finished 2nd three times and 3rd three times at Pocono. Mark had a streak of ten straight top 10 finishes at Pocono snapped pretty dramatically here last Fall when he finished dead last. I'd make a joke here, but some of Mark's fans have about no sense of humor. I think they're actually Jeff Gordon fans in rubber Mark Martin fan's suits.
Jimmy Spencer- This is Spencer's home track, and he darn near won here a few years back before getting caught up in someone else's oil. His 9th place result last time out here was one of Jimmy's five top 10 finishes at the track with a best finish of 4th place back in 1993, so long ago even Jimmy Spencer might have forgotten about it by now.
Bill Elliott- Gather around youngsters. Uncle Matt has another one of his strange but true stories about days of yore. Bill Elliott was once a dominant driver at this track with a total of four victories and eleven top 5 finishes. But poor Bill has only one top 10 and no top 5s in his last nine starts at Pocono. Last year was a particularly brutal one for Bill at Pocono with 38th and 32nd place results, but he hasn't finished in the top 30 in his last six outings at the track. Still Bill's four wins put him in a three way tie for the most wins at Pocono ever with Darrell Waltrip and Tim Richmond. Who was Tim Richmond? That's a tale for another night, kids, but old Tim flat got it done at Pocono.
Jeff Burton- Finished second here last July at Pocono. Eight top 10 Pocono finishes in fourteen career Pocono starts, including both events last year.
Elliott Sadler- 16th in this race last year was Sadler's best Pocono finish. 20th or worse in his other three starts at Pocono. Would need an oversize engine to run merely lousy at Pocono.
Ward Burton- Burton had his best career finish at Pocono is his second stab at the track back in 1994 as part of the Hoosier rout of Goodyear shod drivers. His Pocono starts have been an exercise in futility since, with no more top tens since, and no finishes better than 24th in his last six Pocono outings. Despite his finishes Ward has had some good runs here but always seems to get tangled up in someone else's mess. Anyone have a few sets of vintage Hoosier tires laying around?
Jeremy Mayfield- While he's currently mired in 20th in the points, Mayfield scored his first Cup win at Pocono in 1998. Mayfield is the defending champion of this event having bumped aside Dale Earnhardt on the last corner of the last lap last year, and almost swept Pocono until a flat tire ruined his chances in last year's July race.
Others To Watch:
Terry Labonte- Labonte won at Pocono in 1989 and 1995, two of his five top 5 finishes at the track. In light of his disappointing season last year, Terry actually did fairly well at Pocono with 11th and 12th place results.
Kyle Petty- Labonte and Petty are the only two active Winston Cup drivers who have won at Pocono not currently in the top 20 in the points. Once had to swerve to avoid a drunken spectator who'd run onto the track here at Pocono.
Ken Schrader- While Schrader has never won at Pocono he was 2nd twice and third once.
Kenny Wallace- Eight career finishes of 30th or worse at Pocono in thirteen career stabs at Pocono. This team isn't a dark horse this weekend, it's a night mare. Tasty mayo though.