NASCAR rail: Sunoco/Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at a glance

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

WHERE: Pocono Raceway, Long Pond, PA

WHEN: TV Start 1:00 p.m. ET

BROADCAST: ESPN, live on Sirius satellite radio, channel 128

THE LOWDOWN: After last week's debacle at Indy, fans may never complain about a race being boring again. That's good news for Pocono, where long straight stretches and laps that take a minute to complete can often result in strung-out racing. Because of a lack of side-by-side competition, the 500 milers on this track are often marked by long green flag runs, and that is going to be a welcome relief from Indy, where the longest green flag run was 12 laps. Who knows, diehard stock car fans may even have a greater appreciation for the upcoming road race at Watkins Glen.


2007: Kurt Busch

2006: Denny Hamlin

2005: Kurt Busch

2004: Jimmie Johnson

2003: Ryan Newman


While last week's Allstate Farce Hundred at the Brickyard, presented by Goodyear was certainly the most ridiculous affair in the modern era, fans should have a little perspective: NASCAR did the best it could under the circumstances. If you need proof, look back at the 2005 Formula 1 US Grand Prix for a classic example of bad management by a sanctioning body. With a similar tire problem, 14 drivers withdrew from that race during the parade lap, leaving only six to compete.

1. Kyle Busch

Last three years’ average finish at Pocono: 22.7 in six starts

Pocono is one of the few places Busch has struggled this year. He crashed in the spring just before the midway point of the Pocono 500 and finished 43rd -- and he was running badly before then.

2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Last three years’ average finish at Pocono: 17.8 in six starts

Earnhardt's record at Pocono is not great, but it is rapidly improving. After logging an average finish of 18.3 in his first 15 starts, he has come back to finish in the top five in his last two attempts.

3. Jeff Burton

Last three years’ average finish at Pocono: 14.0 in six starts

Burton's season long streak of top-15s came to an end on Daytona's frontstretch wall two races ago, but that was part of a five-race skid of finishes outside the top 10. With a ninth at Indy, he's back on track.

4. Jimmie Johnson

Last three years’ average finish at Pocono: 13.5 in six starts

Someone was going to be flagged the winner of last week's race. Johnson certainly earned it by driving to the front seemingly at will, and he also had the fastest average speed in nearly every practice.

5. Carl Edwards

Last three years’ average finish at Pocono: 18.7 in six starts

Just how tight is the points battle? Edwards finished second in the Allstate 400 and fell one position in the standings. Of course, it was Johnson that overtook him by virtue of leading the most laps.

6. Jeff Gordon

Last three years’ average finish at Pocono: 11.5 in six starts

Sometimes a driver can win with a third-place car. Last Sunday Gordon finished fifth with one, but that strong run still has to give the team confidence entering this week's race on the similarly flat Pocono.

7. Greg Biffle

Last three years’ average finish at Pocono: 19.2 in six starts

Barely seven weeks ago, Biffle went to Pocono with consecutive top-fives and finished 15th at the "Tricky Triangle." This week, he enters with a two-race streak of top-10s.

8. Denny Hamlin

Last three years’ average finish at Pocono: 2.8 in five starts

With his third-place finish at Indy, Hamlin bounded up the point standings by four positions and he won't lose any ground this week. At Pocono, he's never finished worse than sixth.

9. Kasey Kahne

Last three years’ average finish at Pocono: 19.2 in six starts

Even with a broken header, Kahne finished seventh at Indy and he may have been one of the few drivers happy to see the race cut into 10-lap segments. He won the last Pocono race, so he's still smiling.

10. Tony Stewart

Last three years’ average finish at Pocono: 10.5 in six starts

This former winner of two Brickyard 400s was a major disappointment last week. Perhaps his lame duck status is starting to take its toll and he could end the year with his first winless season of his career.

11. Matt Kenseth

Last three years’ average finish at Pocono: 14.2 in six starts

Kenseth was the unfortunate guinea pig in last week's experiment to see just how far the god-awful Goodyears could go. Talk about catastrophic failure: his tire blew half his right side off.

12. Clint Bowyer

Last three years’ average finish at Pocono: 23.8 in five starts

Bowyer's ascent into the top 12 has to be a little bittersweet since he displaced teammate Kevin Harvick, but with the worst three-year average at Pocono among the top 12, that could be short lived.

Driver Rating in this year’s Pocono 500

Rank    Driver    Finish Pos.    Driver Rating

1.    Kasey Kahne    1    145.2

2.    Denny Hamlin    3    119.6

3.    Jimmie Johnson    6    118.3

4.    Carl Edwards    9    113.4

5.    Matt Kenseth    7    105.2

6.    Brian Vickers    2    103.4

7.    Dale Earnhardt Jr.    4    101.7

8.    Tony Stewart    35    96.2

9.    Mark Martin    10    95.8

10.    A.J. Allmendinger    12    95.2

11.    Kurt Busch    8    95.1

12.    Jeff Burton    5    94.9

13.    Greg Biffle    15    90.1

14.    Ryan Newman    18    80.0

15.    Martin Truex Jr.    17    79.5

16.    Jeff Gordon    14    79.1

17.    Scott Riggs    21    78.8

18.    Bobby Labonte    11    71.5

19.    Elliott Sadler    34    70.1

20.    Dave Blaney    22    68.1

21.    Kevin Harvick    13    68.0

22.    Regan Smith    28    67.6

23.    Jamie McMurray    20    66.0

24.    David Reutimann    19    65.2

25.    Travis Kvapil    23    65.1

Average running position at Pocono

Last three years (7 races)

Rank    Driver    Average Place

1    Denny Hamlin    5.588

2    Kurt Busch    8.388

3    Ryan Newman    9.800

4    Tony Stewart    10.702

5    Brian Vickers    11.762

6    Jimmie Johnson    11.822

7    Mark Martin    11.870

8    Jeff Gordon    12.085

9    Jeff Burton    13.583

10    Kevin Harvick    13.736

11    Matt Kenseth    14.612

12    Martin Truex Jr.    14.769

13    Kasey Kahne    16.971

14    Greg Biffle    18.335

15    Carl Edwards    18.736

16    Bobby Labonte    18.754

17    Kyle Busch    19.308

18    Dale Earnhardt Jr.    19.451

19    Joe Nemechek    19.591

20    Regan Smith    19.595

21    Jamie McMurray    20.200

22    J.J. Yeley    22.196

23    Juan Pablo Montoya    22.675

24    Casey Mears    22.803

25    Elliott Sadler    23.294