Pocono Handicaps

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Dale Earnhardt Jr.- Earnhardt has struggled at times here (remember his first lap crash with teammate Steve Park in July 2002) but he scored top 5 finishes in both Pocono races last year and almost won the July 2001 race until Bobby Labonte passed him on the outside of the tunnel turn.

Jimmie Johnson- Johnson finished third here in his first Cup start, but has finished twelfth or fifteenth here in his next three Pocono starts. Johnson has qualified inside the top 10 for all four races he’s started here.

Matt Kenseth- Kenseth has top 10 finishes in four of eight career starts at Pocono and has finished fourteenth or better in seven of those eight starts.

Tony Stewart- Stewart won this race last year and typically runs pretty well at Pocono. He has top 10 finishes in eight of his ten Pocono starts and an average finish of 10.4.

Jeff Gordon- Gordon is a three time Pocono winner, though the most recent of those victories was way back in 1998. He’d have had a fourth win as well, but Gordon missed a shift on a restart late in one race. In 22 career Pocono starts Gordon has ten top 5s and fifteen top 10 finishes, yet oddly enough he’s missed the top 10 in his last three outings here.

Bobby Labonte- Labonte is a three time Pocono winner, but he runs either hot or cold here. In 22 career starts he has just one top 5 finish in addition to those three wins and a total of six top 10s. All of those top 10 finishes have been accumulated since 1998.

Elliott Sadler- Sadler finished ninth here in this race last year to score his only top 10 finish in ten career starts. He led 35 laps in that race, the first time Sadler had ever taken a turn at the front at Pocono.

Kurt Busch- Busch has finished second in two of the last three Pocono races. But in six career starts at Pocono Busch has also finished 36th or worse three times. He’s led just four laps here in those six races. The heck with Las Vegas. This is Fear and Loathing in Long Pond.

Kevin Harvick- Harvick has one top 10 finish here in six starts offset by four finishes of 20th or worth. His average finish at Pocono to date is slightly better than 20th.

Ryan Newman- Newman won the July race here last year and has top 5 finishes in three of his four Pocono starts. He also won an ARCA race here, his first victory driving for Roger Penske, but Penske and Newman would prefer you forget just how Newman got that win.

Jamie McMurray- McMurray averaged a thirtieth place finish in his two Cup starts here last year.

Kasey Kahne- Pocono is especially tough on rookies because they never got to run here in the Busch or truck series. As best I know Kahne has never turned a lap in anger at Pocono.

Jamie McMurray- McMurray average a thirtieth place finish in his two Cup starts here last year.

Mark Martin- Martin has finished second in the last two Pocono June races and has finished in the top 5 in every June race run here dating back to 1998. In fact he has scored top 10 finishes in fourteen of the last seventeen Pocono races and in 24 of 34 during his entire career, though he’s never won a race here. Could be a good dark horse pick especially after Dover.

Rusty Wallace- Wallace has four wins at Pocono, most recently in the July race of 2000. But he’s been plagued by inconsistency here as of late with top 10 finishes in four of the last ten Pocono races and just one top 5. (The 2000 win.)

Jeremy Mayfield- Mayfield’s most recent Cup victory came at Pocono in 2000 when he stunned (and admittedly pissed off a large percentage of) the crowd by bumping his way past the late Dale Earnhardt on the final lap of the race. Mayfield also scored his first ever career Cup win at Pocono back in 1998. But Pocono hasn’t been as kind to him as of late with no finishes better than fifteenth in the last six races he’s run here.

Dale Jarrett- Jarrett has won at Pocono three times and has eighteen top 10 finishes in 34 starts here. Last year Pocono was a disaster for DJ with 42nd and 21st place finishes. Prior to that he had eleven top 5 finishes in the previous 12 races run here.

Casey Mears- Pocono wasn’t good to Mears last year with a 21st and 35th place finish. This track is tough on rookies and it’s not too fond of sophomores either.

Sterling Marlin- Marlin has struggled at Pocono for much of his career but now has four straight top 10 finishes here coming into this weekend’s race. He’s had only two DNFs here since 1993.

Robby Gordon – Some say Pocono is a driver’s track. Well Robby Gordon is a driver. So Pocono must be a Good Driver’s Track, because Gordon has never finished better than eighteenth here, and has an average career finish of worse than 26th. So much for DW’s “Ro-val” nonsense comparing this track to a road course.

Michael Waltrip- On the debit side of the ledger, Waltrip has just two top 5 finishes and a total of five top 10 finishes in 36 career Cup race he’s run here On the positive side, two of Waltrip’s top 10 finishes here have occurred in the last four races and this team has been running markedly better lately.

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2004

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