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NASCAR Cup Race Preview – Pocono

Hoping for a Strike in the GoBowling.com 400

It’s time for the Sprint Cup Series’ return to the Pocono Mountains for this Sunday’s Gobowling.com 400. If you’re reading this thinking “didn’t they just race at Pocono,” you are right. The Cup Series ran the Party in the Poconos 400 just seven short weeks ago. In that race, Jimmie Johnson and the #48 team dominated the first race of the season at the “Tricky Triangle.”

It was an emotional win for South Bend Indiana’s Ryan Newman last Sunday in the Brickyard 400. It seemed to be Newman’s weekend to take the thunder away from the 48 team. On Saturday, Johnson held the pole position during the majority of the qualifying session until Ryan Newman, who was the last qualifier knocked Johnson to the outside of the front row. Johnson had the dominant car on Sunday but Newman’s crew chief Matt Borland decided to take two tires on the final pit stop giving Newman the lead on the last green flag run. Newman went on to take the “W” with Johnson finishing second.

THIS WEEK’S NEWS AND NOTES:

Getty Images\Todd Warshaw

After an early season injury, Denny Hamlin was forced to the sidelines for a number of weeks with a back injury. Hamlin returned to the car at Darlington with hopes of getting a string of good finishes going to get himself in contention for the Chase for the Championship. Hamlin, like many drivers has had good races but bad luck. He needs surgery to fix the bulging discs, and some observers have called for Hamlin to give up on his longshot Chase hopes and have the procedure done now to make sure he has enough time to heal before 2014. But Hamlin told USA TODAY Sports on Saturday he plans to “tough it out” for the rest of the year. “It’s tough because there are no backups in our sport,” he said while relaxing in his motorhome before qualifying at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “I’m the face of our team, the (Joe) Gibbs (Racing) team, FedEx, everyone, so you can’t just insert another player for the rest of the year and have no one knows the difference. You know, I’ve got to do whatever I’ve got to do to just get through the season, honestly. And then I can figure out what I can do to (feel) better next year. But right now, we’re just in a mode of trying to finish races.” Hamlin is currently 25th in series points standings.

In an interview with MRN Radio last weekend at the Brickyard, Kurt Busch said it’s a “good possibility” that he will run in the IZOD Indy Car Season Finale at Auto Club Speedway in October to prepare for next May’s Indy 500. We’re working on it,” Busch said during a break in testing Monday at Watkins Glen International. “We just have to keep our fingers crossed.” The IndyCar season finale is a night race on October 19 with the Sprint Cup Series racing at Talladega Superspeedway the following day. Busch was encouraged by his May 9 test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He passed the IndyCar rookie test and had a top lap of 218.210 mph in a car from Michael Andretti’s team. Busch’s effort is contingent on sponsorship. If money isn’t found for Busch to run at Auto Club Speedway this season, he says he would feel “blind” at Indianapolis next May “and that’s just going to be too much to make up.”

On Thursday, Fox Sports announced a multi-year deal with NASCAR through 2024. Beginning in 2015, Fox Sports will hold rights to the first 16 Sprint Cup Series races, the first 14 NASCAR Nationwide Series races and the entire Camping World Truck Series schedule.

POCONO PREVIEW

Forty-four drivers are entered for this weekend’s Gobowling.com 400 at Pocono which was won last year by Jeff Gordon.  The Sprint Cup Series cars will be on track from 10:30-12PM on Friday to prepare their cars for the qualifying session later in the day. For the 43 teams who make the race, Saturday will include 2 practice sessions to fine tune their cars for race conditions. Clouds appear to be prevalent in this weekend’s forecast as it usually is at Pocono but there is no rain forecasted for the weekend.

CHASSIS/PAINT SCHEMES

#2 Brad Keselowski: Crew Chief, Paul Wolfe has elected to bring Chassis PRS-856 this weekend. This is the same car they finished 16th with in June at Pocono. The #2 will be red this weekend as they run the Redd’s Apple Ale paint scheme.

#5 Kasey Kahne: Kenny Francis has chosen Hendrick chassis No. 5-779 for this weekend’s race at Pocono. Kahne has driven this car 3 times this season and averaged a 16.4 place finish.

#9 Marcos Ambrose: The Richard Petty Motorsports team will be bringing Chassis 842. They raced this chassis earlier in the season at Pocono.

#10 Danica Patrick: The GoDaddy Green team will be bringing Chassis 10-723. This is the same car that finished 29th at Pocono in June.

#14 Tony Stewart: There will be a 2nd GoDaddy scheme on the track this weekend. Tony Stewart will be debuting the GoDaddy scheme on the 14 for the first time this season. He will be doing so with Chassis 14-706. Stewart finished 4th with this car in June.

#15 Clint Bowyer: The Toyota Cares team will be bringing Chassis 733 this weekend from the Michael Waltrip Racing shop. This car finished 6th at Phoenix earlier this season and 13th at Pocono.

#16 Greg Biffle: The 3M Roush Fenway team will be trying a new chassis this weekend at Pocono.

#17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr: The Zest team will be unloading RK-832 this weekend. This car finished 26th at Pocono.

#22 Joey Logano: The team will be bringing the same car they finished 6th with last week in Indy, Chassis PRS-848.

#27 Paul Menard: The Menards team will be racing Chassis No. 427 this weekend. This car finished 14th at Michigan in June.

#29 Kevin Harvick: The Budweiser team will unload Chassis No. 391 for Pocono. Harvick qualified 5th and finished 9th with this chassis in June.

#39 Ryan Newman: Last week’s winner is hoping to have similar results with Chassis No. 39-733. This is the same car they took to victory lane at Indy.

#48 Jimmie Johnson: The 48 team hopes to “fly high” with Chassis No. 799 this weekend. He will be running the Disney Planes paint scheme.

#55 Mark Martin: The ageless wonder will be behind the wheel of Chassis 759 this weekend. He has raced this car at Fontana, Darlington and Pocono.

#88 Dale Earnhardt Jr: The National Guard Youth Foundation will be on Hendrick Chassis 88-798 this weekend. Dale finished 3rd with this car at Pocono back in June.

BLAKE’S PICK

 

Getty Images\Jeff Zelevansky

I am picking last week’s 3rd place finisher for the win at Pocono this weekend. Kahne has an 89.6 driver rating since 2005 and has always faired well at flat tracks. He wasn’t able to show the strength of his car at Pocono in June due to a mechanical problem on lap 1 but was the quickest car throughout the race on the stopwatch. My pick is the 5 of Kasey Kahne!

MOON’S PICK:

Danica Patrick 2003, by Chris Polk\Getty Images

Moon is sticking with the GoDaddy girl this weekend, Danica Patrick in the #10 Chevrolet.

COVERAGE OF THE GOBOWLING.COM 400:

WBKR has you covered for all of your Sunday racing action. It all starts with NASCAR USA at 9AM with the coverage of the race immediately following at 11AM. Tune in on air or online radio at WBKR.com!

THIS WEEK’S TOP TEN, Courtesy mrrn.com

1 Jimmie Johnson 740
2 Clint Bowyer 665
3 Carl Edwards 655
4 Kevin Harvick 648
5 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 616
6 Matt Kenseth 615
7 Kyle Busch 610
8 Greg Biffle 565
9 Kasey Kahne 564
10  Jeff Gordon 559

 

 

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