NASCAR National Series News & Notes — Pocono

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Next Race: Axalta ‘We Paint Winners’ 400
The Place: Pocono Raceway
The Date: Sunday, June 5
The Time: 1 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 11:30 a.m.
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 400 miles (160 laps)

Next Race: Pocono Green 250
The Place: Pocono Raceway
The Date: Saturday, June 4
The Time: 1 p.m. ET
TV: FOX, 12:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 250 miles (100 laps)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Next Race: Rattlesnake 400
The Place: Texas Motor Speedway
The Date: Friday, June 10
The Time: 9 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 8:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 250.5 miles (167 laps)

NASCAR Programming

  • Chase Elliott on “Ridiculousness” – Thursday, June 2 at 10 p.m. ET on MTV

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

Moment Of Truex: Furniture Row Driver Goes For Second Straight Win, Pocono Repeat

Martin Truex Jr., from the one-car Furniture Row Racing team based in Denver, Colorado, set a NASCAR record and Charlotte Motor Speedway record on his way to his first victory of the season in the Coca-Cola 600.

Truex’s 588 miles led in a single race were the most in NASCAR history. The previous-best total was Jim Paschal’s 502.5 miles led in the 1967 World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Truex’s 392 laps led marked the highest total in a race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The previous-best mark of 335 was also set by Paschal in the 1967 World 600.

He also recorded the 17th perfect driver rating (150.0) – and first at Charlotte – since the inception of NASCAR loop data in 2005.

So far this season, the New Jersey native has led the most laps in the three races – Texas (141), Kansas (172) and Charlotte (392) – and paces the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in total laps led (809). He ranks second in average running position (7.6) and driver rating (107.8), as well as third in fastest laps run (364).

Truex heads to Pocono Raceway next for Sunday’s Axalta ‘We Paint Winners’ 400 (1 p.m. on FS1) – a race he won last year. In 20 career starts at the Tricky Triangle, the No. 78 Toyota driver claims one win, three top fives, seven top 10s and an average finish of 15.3.
Truex currently sits sixth on the Chase Grid on the strength of his one win, two top fives and six top 10s. 

Hamlin Hopes To Rediscover Pocono Magic

Denny Hamlin leads all active drivers with four wins at Pocono, but has not visited Victory Lane at the Tricky Triangle since 2010.

The No. 11 Toyota driver will attempt to turn his luck around in Sunday’s Axalta ‘We Paint Winners’ 400 by notching his first win since he edged out Martin Truex Jr. by a mere .010 seconds in the Daytona 500.

Hamlin owns the series-best driver rating among active competitors at Pocono (107.2), along with the second-best average running position (10.7). He also has nine top fives and 13 top 10s in 20 starts at the 2.5-mile track.

In his last two starts, Hamlin finished seventh at Dover and fourth at Charlotte following showings of 31st (Talladega) and 37th (Kansas). 

Earnhardt Eyes First Win At Track He Swept In ’14

During his resurgent 2014 season, Dale Earnhardt Jr. swept the Pocono races on his way to four wins – his first multi-victory campaign since 2004 (six wins). He also took the checkered flag at the Daytona 500 and Martinsville fall race.

Earnhardt will attempt to visit Victory Lane for the first time this season and grab the ensuing Chase berth in Sunday’s Pocono showdown.

In his last six Pocono starts, the No. 88 Chevrolet driver has recorded five top-five finishes. His one outlier was an 11th-place showing last June. Earnhardt has tallied two wins, 10 top fives and 14 top 10s in 32 overall starts at the Tricky Triangle.

On the season, Earnhardt ranks 13th on the Chase Grid via four top fives and five top 10s. He has struggled recently, failing to record a top-10 finish since his runner-up showing at Bristol.

Earnhardt has three runner-ups this season. 

Harvick Nearing Victory After Third Runner-Up Of 2016

Another race, and unfortunately for Kevin Harvick, another runner-up.

Harvick logged his third second-place showing of the season in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Since 2014, Harvick has recorded 22 runner-ups, 13 more than Brad Keselowski, who has the next-highest total with nine.

Last year, Harvick scored 13 runner up, the most since Bobby Allison in 1970 (15).

On the bright side, Harvick’s 31 top-two finishes outpace Keselowski’s total (18) – the second-highest in the category – by 13.

Harvick leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in points this season on the strength of one win, six top fives and 10 top 10s. His teammate Kurt Busch ranks second in points and trails him by 36 markers.

A loop data legend, Harvick leads the NSCS in average running position (6.1), driver rating (115.9) and fastest laps run (553). 

Chase Pressure Heats Up Halfway Through

Eight Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup bids remain halfway through the regular season.

The drivers who have locked up berths via wins are Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex, Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin.

If the season ended today, the eight other drivers who would make NASCAR’s playoffs on points are Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, Austin Dillon, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Blaney and Ryan Newman.

Elliott and Blaney would become the second and third Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders to ever make the Chase. Denny Hamlin achieved the feat in 2006.

Drivers who have won at Pocono, who can clinch a Chase berth with a victory there on Sunday include: Kurt Busch (2 wins), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2), Kasey Kahne (2), Tony Stewart (2), Greg Biffle (1) and Ryan Newman (1).

Tony Stewart Chase Watch

Tony Stewart jumped from 37th to 35th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points standings after finishing 24th in the Coca-Cola 600.

To make NASCAR’s playoffs, Stewart must win a race and finish the regular season in the top 30 in points. He’s currently 60 markers behind 30th-place David Ragan.

Stewart has two wins (2003, ’09), 12 top fives and 23 top 10s in 34 starts at Pocono. Among active drivers at the 2.5-mile track, he ranks third in average finish (11.0), sixth in average running position (12.7) and fourth in driver rating (95.7).

Kenseth Can Solve Tricky Triangle For Second Consecutive Contest

Matt Kenseth enters Sunday’s Axalta ‘We Paint Winners’ 400 at Pocono as the track’s fall race winner and riding a three-race top-10 streak (fourth, Kansas; first, Dover;  seventh, Charlotte).

The No. 20 Toyota driver’s win at Pocono last fall marked his first win in 32 starts at the Tricky Triangle. He has four top fives, 12 top 10s and an average finish of 15.2 there.

Kenseth currently ranks seventh on the Chase Grid on the strength of one win, two top fives and five top 10s.

Click here for audio of Matt Kenseth previewing Pocono. 

Kyle Busch Eyes Victories At Pocono And Charlotte To Complete Sweep Of Active Tracks

Kyle Busch failed to win his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte over the weekend, but gets a shot to visit Victory Lane at Pocono Raceway on Sunday – the only other track where he’s never captured a checkered flag.

Overall, Busch has won races at 21-of-23 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series tracks. Tony Stewart has wins at as many tracks and needs victories at Darlington and Kentucky to complete the sweep. Jimmie Johnson boasts victories at 19 of the 23 tracks and hasn’t won at Chicagoland, Homestead, Kentucky or Watkins Glen.

Busch was leading last season’s August Pocono race on the final lap, but ran out of fuel and finished 21st. He’ll get another shot to win at Charlotte in the fall.

In 22 career starts at Pocono, Busch owns four top fives, eight top 10s and two Coors Light Pole awards. His career-best finish at the Tricky-Triangle is second (June 2010 and Aug. 2011).

Click here for an infographic detailing Busch’s wins by track.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Etc.

Elliott Posts Another Top 10

Chase Elliott finished eighth at Charlotte – his ninth top-10 result of the season. Jimmie Johnson (2002) is the only other driver who’s recorded nine top 10s through the first 13 races of his Sunoco Rookie season. Elliott leads Ryan Blaney by 28 points in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings. …

Trick Or Triangle

As the only track on the NASCAR circuit with three different lengths for each straightaway, Pocono stands out as one of the most distinct courses drivers try to tackle. …

Click here for an infographic detailing the Tricky Triangle.

Pocono Raceway To Host Hot Dog Eating Contest

Prior to Sunday’s Axalta ‘We Paint Winners’ 400, Pocono Raceway will host a Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest Qualifier in Fan Fair 2 behind the grandstands on the Nathan’s Famous stage. NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty will participate in a question-and-answer session at 11 a.m. and will then drop the green flag on the contest. The winner of the qualifier, one of 13 being held across the country, will gain entry to the annual finals at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York on July 4. …

Bark Park Set To Open At Pocono Raceway

This weekend, Pocono Raceway debuts its Pocono Race Raceway Bark Park – the first dog park at a national motorsports facility. The 100-feet by 100-feet facility will be open to all dogs in the infield and feature a secure gate, obstacles and size-appropriate exercise areas. The Pocono Raceway Bark Park is free of charge and open to all fans who have secured an infield camping spot. …


NASCAR XFINITY Series Makes Track Debut At Pocono Raceway

For the first time in its storied history, the NASCAR XFINITY Series will compete for 100 laps (250 miles) at Pocono Raceway on Saturday, June 4 (on FOX at 1 p.m. ET) in the inaugural Pocono Green 250.

Since its inception in 1982, the NASCAR XFINITY Series, has only raced in the state of Pennsylvania 17 times prior to this weekend’s festivities at one track – Nazareth Speedway (1988 – 2004).

Pocono Raceway will become the 52nd track to host a race in what is now the NASCAR XFINITY Series. The NASCAR XFINITY Series has competed all across the country and internationally (Mexico City, Mexico and Montreal, Canada).

Pocono Raceway is one of the most distinct tracks in existence. It has three turns that are all different and were inspired by other tracks – Turn 1 has a banking of 14 degrees and was modeled after Trenton Speedway, Turn 2 is banked eight degrees and comes from Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Turn 3 is six degrees and was taken from the Milwaukee Mile. 

Pocono’s uniqueness doesn’t end there. The competitors will be tasked with not only adapting to the three different turns but also the three different lengths of the straightaways (Frontstretch 3,470 ft., Backstretch 3,055 ft. and the Shortstretch 1,780 ft.).

Two extra practices will be held Thursday, June 2 – the first practice will start at 2 p.m. ET and the second practice will begin at 4 p.m. ET. Both practices will run for 55 minutes each.

Daniel Suárez Leaps Elliott Sadler For The Series Championship Points Lead

It took all of three races for Joe Gibbs Racing’s Daniel Suárez to leap JR Motorsport’s Elliott Sadler and retake the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship standings. For the seventh time this season the Monterrey, Mexico native is tops in the title hunt. 

Suárez finished 12th at Charlotte last weekend after rebounding from an accident early in the race involving Elliott Sadler and his JGR teammate Erik Jones. Sadler and Jones weren’t as fortunate, and both finished outside the top 20. Suárez’s turnaround yielded him a solid finish that has opened up the biggest points lead (14 points) of the season over second-place in the standings. 

In 11 starts this season, Suárez has one pole, four top fives and nine top 10s. His average finish in 2016 is a stout 7.1.

NASCAR’s season-to-date loop data further details Suárez’s early success this season. He is ranked second in average running position (7.632), third in driver rating (104.5) and third in percentage of laps run on the lead lap (91.5%).  

This weekend will be Suárez’s NASCAR national series track debut at Pocono Raceway. 

Sadler Is Down But Not Out, Veteran Status Plays To His Favor At Pocono

After being caught in an accident with fellow championship contenders Daniel Suárez and Erik Jones on Lap 25 of last weekend’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Sadler posted his worst finish of the season (28th) and was ultimately bounced from the NASCAR XFINITY Series standings lead.

Prior to Charlotte, Sadler’s season had been one of solid-run after solid-run; posting one win (Talladega), four top fives and nine top 10s. The 28th-place finish at Charlotte last weekend was his first finish outside the top 20 this season. As a result, Sadler is now second in the standings, staring at 14 points between himself and the standings leader Daniel Suárez.

With the series track debut at Pocono this weekend, Sadler’s veteran status might play in his favor with

his prior experience at the Tricky Triangle. Sadler has made 24 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Pocono, posting an average finish of 22.0. But his most recent start at Pocono came in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2010 where he led 31 laps and won from the pole.

Allgaier, Dillon Are Scaling Mountain Of Points Between Themselves And Suárez

Two drivers hoping points leader Daniel Suárez’s good luck comes to an end are title contenders Justin Allgaier (third-place, -23 points from the leader) and Ty Dillon (fourth-place, -24 points). With a 20-plus mountain of points to scale to even catch Suárez, any help closing the points gap would be welcomed.

Things are looking up for Allgaier as he jumped to third in the points after posting his fifth top five and ninth top 10 of the season last weekend. The JR Motorsports veteran is poised to capitalize this weekend at Pocono as well.  He has made four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Pocono, posting an average finish of 21.8.

Ty Dillon dropped to fourth in the standings, but is only one point behind Allgaier. Dillon has logged three top fives and seven top 10s this season.

Dillon also has some experience competing at Pocono. He made two NCWTS starts at “The Tricky Triangle,” recording an average finish of 13.0. He also made a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Pocono last June, starting 29th and finishing 18th.

Consistency Could Be Erik Jones’ Achilles Heel

He can win poles and races, but Joe Gibbs Racing Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Erik Jones hasn’t been consistent this season.

In 11 starts in 2016, the 20-year-old from Byron, Michigan has been one of the most dynamic drivers in the series, posting two wins (Bristol and Dover), two poles, six top fives and an average finish of 13.1. But that average finish would most likely be inside the top 10 and he wouldn’t be sitting seventh in the series standings if it weren’t for his two DNFs (Did Not Finish) at Richmond and then Charlotte last weekend. 

Last season, Chris Buescher won the championship with zero DNFs. Since 1982, the driver to win the NASCAR XFINITY Series title with the most DNFs is Greg Biffle in 2002 – he had five DNFs that season.

Luckily for Jones, the new NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase promotes winning. Jones is not only virtually locked into the series playoffs provided he stays in the top 30 in points and qualifies for the remaining regular season races, but he also will be reseeded to the NXS Chase standings lead due to his bonus points for his two wins.

Jones has made two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at Pocono Raceway where he’s notched a pole and two top 10s.


Custer’s Solid Finish Keeps JR Motorsports Out Front In Owner Points: Following another solid showing by up-and-coming star Cole Custer, who finished fourth at Charlotte last weekend, the JR Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet team continues to hold on to the NASCAR XFINITY Series owner standings lead by six points over second-place Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota. This weekend it will be Alex Bowman’s turn to wheel the No. 88 and build on the points lead. …

Sprint Cup Stars: Each week some of the best in the sport on Sunday dabble in the NASCAR XFINITY Series the day before. This week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers entered in the NXS race at Pocono include: Kyle Busch, Matt DiBenedetto, Paul Menard, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, Josh Wise and Aric Almirola. …

NASCAR In Pennsylvania: NASCAR has hosted 139 national series races among 10 different tracks in the state of Pennsylvania (NSCS 110, NXS 17, and NCWTS 12). The very first NASCAR national series event held in Pennsylvania was a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on September 11, 1949 at Langhorne Speedway – won by Curtis Turner (Oldsmobile). The NASCAR XFINITY Series has held 17 races in the state of Pennsylvania and all were at Nazareth Speedway. The very first NXS race at Nazareth Speedway was on May 7, 1988 – won by Rick Mast (Buick). Pocono Raceway held its first NASCAR national series race in 1974 – the NSCS event was won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty (Dodge). The first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race held at Pocono Raceway was in 2010 and won by Elliott Sadler (Chevrolet). …

Pennsylvania Drivers In NASCAR: A total of 141 drivers who have made at least one start in a NASCAR national series race have their home state recorded as Pennsylvania. Only three Pennsylvania drivers have won a NASCAR national series race: Dick Linder (three NSCS wins), Jimmy Spencer (two NSCS wins) and Mark Donohue (one NSCS win). Of the 141, only 20 have competed in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Of the 20, only one has won in the NASCAR XFINITY Series – Jimmy Spencer (12 NXS wins).


Three-Peat: Crafton Goes For Third Straight June Texas Victory

Matt Crafton, who’s won the last two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races this season and the past two June contests at Texas, will go for his third consecutive win in the Rattlesnake 400 at Texas Motor Speedway (Friday, June 10th at 9 p.m. ET on FS1).

In 30 career starts at Texas, Crafton owns two wins, 11 top fives, 19 top 10s and a 9.7 average finish. He has placed in the top 10 in his last nine starts there. The ThorSport Racing driver also has three runner-up showings at Texas.

An intermediate track maven, Crafton boasts seven wins, 11 top-two showings and 18 top-10 finishes in 20 starts at 1.5-mile ovals since 2014.

Crafton leads the NCWTS standings on the strength of two wins, three top fives and five top 10s. He holds a 12-point advantage over second-place Timothy Peters.

Decorated Class Vies For Sunoco Rookie Of The Year Award

The drivers involved in the NASCAR Camping World Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year race all have a decorated list of accomplishments.

Currently, William Byron leads the NCWTS Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings, followed by Christopher  Bell (-3 points), Ben Rhodes (-16), Cole Custer (-18) and Rico Abreu (-30).

Byron, Rhodes, Custer and Abreu are all NASCAR Next Alumni, while Byron (2015) and Rhodes (2014) are NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champions.

Custer holds the title of youngest NASCAR national series winner. He visited Victory Lane in the 2014 NCWTS race at New Hampshire at age 16 years, 7 months, 28 days.

Abreu is the two-time defending champion of Chili-Bowl Nationals.

Bell, the 2013 USAC National Midget champion, won the NCWTS race at Eldora last summer.

Standings Snapshot

Six races into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season, two-time champion Matt Crafton leads on the strength of two wins, three top fives and five top 10s. He is trailed by Timothy Peters (-12 points), Daniel Hemric (-17), Spencer Gallagher (-22) and William Byron (-26). Ryan Truex (-32), John Hunter Nemechek (-34), Tyler Reddick (-36), Christopher Bell (-37) and Johnny Sauter (-41) round out the top 10.

Ten races remain before the seven-race NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase thats begins at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sept. 24. It will feature eight drivers and two elimination rounds, with four drivers competing in the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. A win in the first 16 races all but guarantees a driver entry into the Chase, provided that the driver is in the Top 30 in points and has attempted to qualify for each race.

Townley Takes Aim At Second Win

After winning his first career race at Las Vegas last season, John Wes Townley takes aim at his second win in the Rattlesnake 400 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Townley finished third in last season’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standalone event at Texas and has two top fives and three top 10s in eight career starts at the 1.5-mile track.

Right now, Townley sits 19th in the NCWTS standings with a high finish of seventh (Atlanta).

NASCAR Business News

NASCAR Partners with Steven Soderbergh on Heist-Themed Film Project

Sources: NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications

June 2016
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