Driver Handicaps: Pocono

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    This weekend the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series heads to Pocono Raceway for the Pennsylvania 500. To help you make your Dale Jr. Reality Cup Racing fantasy picks, RacingOne brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for the 200-lap event.

    Who's HOT at Pocono
  • Denny Hamlin has two wins and a 2.7 average finish in three starts.
  • Jeff Gordon leads all drivers in wins (4) and laps led (870).
  • Tony Stewart has finished seventh or better in four consecutive races.
  • Mark Martin leads all drivers with 28 top-10 finishes.
  • The No. 25 Hendrick car has finished fourth in the last three events.

    Keep an Eye on at Pocono
  • Juan Pablo Montoya will be back behind the wheel of the same car that finished second at Indy.
  • Although he finished 42nd in June, Jimmie Johnson has an 11.2 average finish in 11 starts at Pocono.
  • Martin Truex Jr. is coming off two consecutive top-10 finishes at Pocono.
  • Kyle Busch will pilot the same car that finished eighth and fourth, respectively, at Pocono and Indianapolis.
  • Kurt Busch has one win and two runner-up finishes in three of his last four starts at Pocono.
  • Ryan Newman will be driving the same car that won the pole and finished second in June at Pocono.
  • Matt Kenseth has the best finishing average (14.9) among the Ford drivers at Pocono.
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be driving the same car that led 33 laps at Indianapolis before losing an engine.

    Pocono Rookie Report
    All of the Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidates made their NEXTEL Cup Series debut at Pocono Raceway in June. Juan Pablo Montoya was the top finishing rookie in that event, finishing 20th. He ran as high as third during the final round of green flag pit stops. David Ragan and Paul Menard have also entered ARCA RE/MAX Series races at the track. Ragan finished 26th and fourth, respectively, in the series in 2005, while Menard made an ARCA appearance in June, but finished 35th after an accident took him out of contention. Rookie Standings

    Qualifying Tidbits
    In June, Ryan Newman scored his second career pole at Pocono Raceway after laying down a lap of 170.062 mph. In 2006, Denny Hamlin swept both poles at Pocono to boost Chevrolet's total to four pole positions in the last 11 events dating back to the June race in 2002 when qualifying was canceled due to rain. Kasey Kahne, driving a Dodge, is the current track qualifying record holder after running a lap of 172.533 mph in the 2004 June event. Jamie McMurray's 2005 July pole was the fifth Pocono pole for Dodge since 2002. Ford won their last pole at the track after Todd Bodine took the top spot in this event in 2001. Past Pole Winners | Starting Positions of Pocono Winners

    Race to The Chase
    Jeff Gordon leads all drivers that are currently seeded for "The Chase" with four wins and 20 top 10's at Pocono Raceway. Click Here to view a video to see how the eligible Chase drivers stack up at Pocono.

    Pocono Raceway Loop Data Stat Leaders (2005-2006)
    *Fastest Early in a Run
    *Fastest Late in a Run
    Avg. Running Position
    1. Denny Hamlin
    1. Denny Hamlin
    1. Denny Hamlin - 4.9
    2. Kurt Busch
    2. Mark Martin
    2. Kurt Busch - 8.7
    3. Brian Vickers
    3. Kurt Busch
    3. Brian Vickers - 9.4
    4. Jimmie Johnson
    4. Ryan Newman
    4. Ryan Newman - 9.5
    5. Martin Truex Jr.
    5. Tony Stewart
    5. Tony Stewart - 10.9
    Laps in Top 15
    *Quality Passes
    *Driver Rating
    1. Brian Vickers - 793
    1. Tony Stewart - 201
    1. Denny Hamlin - 137.5
    2. Ryan Newman - 734
    2. Ryan Newman - 193
    2. Kurt Busch - 109.9
    3. Kurt Busch - 720
    3. Kevin Harvick - 191
    3. Brian Vickers - 105.5
    4. Kevin Harvick - 709
    4. Matt Kenseth - 167
    4. Tony Stewart - 102.8
    5. Tony Stewart - 702
    5. Jeff Gordon - 161
    5. Ryan Newman - 99.8


    *Fastest Early In a Run: Ranks each driver during the first 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
    *Fastest Late In a Run: Ranks each driver during last 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
    *Quality Passes: Passing a car running in the Top 15 while under a green flag.
    *Driver Rating : Formula combining the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race.


    Dale Jr. Reality Cup Tiebreakers

    Last Five Number of Lead Changes
    2007-15
    2006-13
    2006-25
    2005-13
    2005-14

    Average: 16.0

    Last Five Number of Cautions Laps
    2007-10
    2006-29
    2006-28
    2005-40
    2005-32

    Average: 27.8

    *RacingOne Staff Picks
    Jeff Wackerlin: Juan Pablo Montoya
    Pete Pistone: Reed Sorenson
    Jorge Mondaca: Jimmie Johnson
    Rachael West: Kurt Busch

    *Note: Drivers can be selected only one time per season. Race points will be added up each week. This is the 18th race of the season for this section of the handicaps. Standings

    Top 20 Driver Notes - Based on Current Standings

    1. Jeff Gordon (Points: 3076): In 29 starts at Pocono Raceway, Gordon has captured four wins, two poles, 14 top-five and 20 top-10 finishes. His most recent victory came this past June when he led 26 laps from the 18th starting position in the rain-shortened event. His last of four Pocono DNFs came in the 2006 June race after he lost the brakes and crashed hard into the Turn 1 wall. Gordon leads all drivers in laps led at Pocono with 870.

    2. Denny Hamlin (Points Behind: -371): Last July, Hamlin became the sixth driver in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series history to sweep both races at Pocono Raceway. He led a combined 234 laps en route to the victories, both of which he started from the pole. His sixth-place finish in June dropped his finish average to 2.7, which is nearly eight points ahead of any driver.

    3. Matt Kenseth (Points Behind: -377): Kenseth has yet to reach Victory Lane at Pocono Raceway, but has posted seven top-10 finishes in 15 starts. His most recent outing at Pocono saw Kenseth start 24th and finish ninth. In 2005, he finished 30th or worse in both Pocono races for the first time in one season. Kenseth, who has led in six races for 26 laps, has a 14.9 finishing average at the 2.5-mile track. He will race the same chassis (RK-340) that led three laps and finished fifth at Pocono in June 2006.

    4. Jeff Burton (Points Behind: -443): Last year, Burton turned around his luck at Pocono Raceway with a pair of ninth-place finishes, which ended a streak of finishing 19th or worse in the four previous races. In June he finished 13th, which marked the fifth race he has competed in at the track with Richard Childress Racing. All but three of his 13 top-10 finishes came with Roush Racing from 1996-2004. This weekend, Burton will be back behind the wheel of the same car (chassis No. 165) that raced in the June event at Pocono and won at Dover in 2006.

    5. Tony Stewart (Points Behind: -477): In 17 Pocono starts, Stewart has one victory and 12 top-10 finishes. Stewart ended a four-race streak of finishing 27th or worse in the 2005 July race when he finished seventh. He is currently riding a four race streak where he has finished seventh or better. His third-place run in the June race in 2006 came in his first full race back after sustaining a shoulder injury at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Stewart, who has led a total of 100 laps at Pocono, will be driving a new car (chassis No. 179) in the Pennsylvania 500.

    6. Carl Edwards (Points Behind: -494): In 2005, Edwards won this event in his first career start at Pocono Raceway. He won the race from the 29th starting position, which is the furthest back a driver has started and won a race at the 2.5-mile track. The victory was also the first for owner Jack Roush at Pocono. Edwards, who suffered his first finishes outside the top five at Pocono in 2006 and the June race this year, will drive the same car (chassis: RK-387) that started 10th and finished 12th last November at Texas Motor Speedway.

    7. Kevin Harvick (Points Behind: -588): Last year in this event, Harvick captured his fourth top 10 at Pocono Raceway. He finished fifth to mark his best finish in 13 career starts. Harvick, who has yet to lead a lap at Pocono, will race chassis No. 151 in the 200-lap race. This is the same car that finished second in the 2006 All-Star Challenge and 11th in June at Pocono.

    8. Kyle Busch (Points Behind: -597): In the 2005 June race, Busch finished fourth in his first start Pocono Raceway. In the next three races he finished 39th, 22nd and 12th, respectively. This past June, Busch had his best qualifying effort at the track (fourth). Busch also made one start in the ARCA RE/MAX Series at Pocono. In that event, he finished 25th after starting from the pole. The No. 5 has gone to Victory Lane twice at Pocono with Geoffrey Bodine (1988) and Terry Labonte (1995). This weekend, Busch will return in the same car (chassis No. 426) that finished eighth in June at Pocono.

    9. Jimmie Johnson (Points Behind: -607): Johnson swept the Pocono Raceway events in 2004, leading 63 percent of the laps there that season. His 42nd-place finish in June ended a streak of 10 consecutive top 15-finishes at the track, dropping his average finish from 8.2 to 11.2. This weekend, Johnson will be back in the same car (chassis No. 359) that finished second in the All-Star race and won at Atlanta in March.

    10. Clint Bowyer (Points Behind: -671): Bowyer's Pocono finishing average took a big hit last July after Tony Stewart made contact with his No. 07 Chevrolet on the front stretch early in the race. NASCAR penalized Stewart one lap for aggressive driving after the accident, which saw Bowyer slide down into Carl Edwards before it was over. After finishing 21st in this event last year, Bowyer's average fell to 31.0 after a 41st-place finish. However, Bowyer was able to improve his finishing average to 24.0 in June with a 10th-place finish. He will return in that very same car (chassis No. 165) on Sunday when he makes his third career Pocono start.

    11. Martin Truex Jr. (Points Behind: -741): Truex Jr's third-place finish at Pocono Raceway in June came in the middle of three consecutive top fives on the season. This weekend, he will be going after his third top 10 at the track driving the same car (chassis No. 053) that finished 12th at Indianapolis last weekend.

    12. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Points Behind: -859): Earnhardt Jr's last of four top-10 finishes at Pocono Raceway came in the 2004 June race, and his best finish came in the July 2001 race after leading 31 laps en route to a second-place finish. In the 2004 July event, Earnhardt handed the controls of the No. 8 Chevrolet over to John Andretti on lap 52 after the second-degree burns he suffered in an American LeMans Series accident made it too difficult to finish the race. Junior's finishing average took a hit last year after a 43rd-place finish in this event dropped it to 18.3 in his 15 starts. Junior, who finished 12th in June, will be back in the same car (chassis No. 042) that led 33 laps at Indianapolis last weekend before losing an engine.

    13. Kurt Busch (Points Behind: -872): Busch captured his first win at Pocono Raceway in the 2005 July race in his last track start with Roush Racing. In his previous nine starts at the speedway with Roush, Busch posted four top-five finishes, with a pair of runner-ups in the July event in 2002 and 2003. In the last three races, Busch scored a pair of second-place finishes and a 16th, and led a combined 35 laps, in his track starts with Penske Racing. This weekend he will return in the same car (chassis PSC-078) that led 107 laps in the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

    14. Ryan Newman (Points Behind: -918): Newman's last of five top-five finishes at Pocono Raceway came this past June when he finished second. His only Pocono victory came in July of 2003 after winning from the pole. Newman has led in seven of 11 Pocono races for a total of 160 laps. This weekend he will drive the same car (chassis No. PRS-104) that won the pole and finished second in June at Pocono.

    15. Jamie McMurray (Points Behind: -972): McMurray has raced at Pocono Raceway nine times, with a best finish of ninth in the 2004 June race. His best start came in the 2005 July race when he captured his first pole at the 2.5-mile speedway with Chip Ganassi Racing. McMurray has finished 18th, 20th and 29th, respectively, in his three track starts with Roush Fenway Racing. This weekend, he will pilot the same car (chassis No. RK-428) that raced at Pocono in June.

    16. Greg Biffle (Points Behind: -987): Since scoring his second top 10 at Pocono Raceway with a sixth-place finish in the 2006 June race, Biffle has posted an average finish of 27.0. In 2005, the team experienced brake problems and finished 30th and 17th, respectively. His other top 10 came in the 2004 July event when he finished fourth. Biffle, who has gained a total of 171 points on the top 12 in the past three weeks, will pilot the same car (chassis RK-314) that finished 15th in the All-Star race.

    17. Mark Martin (Points Behind: -1031): Martin finished seventh in his first start in a Chevrolet at Pocono Raceway in June. He currently owns a 10.8 average finish and has led a total of 377 laps at the 2.5-mile track. His 28 top-10 finishes lead all drivers.

    18. Juan Montoya (Points Behind: -1059): Montoya will attempt to capture his first top 10 at Pocono Raceway driving the same car (chassis No. 707) that finished second last weekend at Indianapolis.

    19. Casey Mears (Points Behind: -1097): Mears extended the No. 25's streak of fourth-place finishes to three this past June, following Brian Vickers' finishes in 2006. Mears will look to continue the team's success driving the same car (chassis No. 393) that finished 28th at Atlanta this year. The car will feature a new body.

    20. Bobby Labonte (Points Behind: -1124): Labonte has competed in 29 races at Pocono Raceway scoring three wins and nine top-10 finishes. Labonte, whose last win at Pocono came in the 2003 July race, finished 12th, eighth, and 19th, respectively, in his three track starts with Petty Enterprises.

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