Party in the Poconos 400 Betting News and Notes

Party in the Poconos 400 Betting News and Notes

Party at the Poconos 400 Track Facts


Pocono Raceway Data


Season Race #: 14 of 36 (06-09-13)
Track Size: 2.5-miles
Banking/Turn 1: 14 degrees
Banking/Turn 2: 8 degrees
Banking/Turn 3: 6 degrees
Frontstretch Length: 3,740 feet
Backstretch Length: 3,055 feet
Shortstretch Length: 1,780 feet
Race Length: 160 laps / 400 miles

Top 12 Driver Rating at Pocono
Denny Hamlin............................ 115.1
Jimmie Johnson......................... 107.6
Kurt Busch................................ 103.7
Jeff Gordon................................ 100.9
Tony Stewart............................... 98.6
Carl Edwards.............................. 97.4
Ryan Newman............................. 95.4
Mark Martin................................. 94.4
Kasey Kahne.............................. 91.4
Matt Kenseth.............................. 90.7
Kevin Harvick.............................. 89.6
Jeff Burton.................................. 87.1

Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2012 races (16 total) among active drivers at Pocono Raceway.

Qualifying/Race Data

2012 pole winner:
Joey Logano, Toyota, 179.598 mph, 50.112 secs. 6-8-12

2012 race winner: Joey Logano, Toyota, 131.004 mph, (03:03:12), 6-10-12

Track qualifying record: Joey Logano, Toyota, 179.598 mph, 50.112 secs. 6-8-12

Track race record: Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 145.384 mph, (03:26:21), 6-12-11

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Re: Party in the Poconos 400 Betting News and Notes

Driver's Tale of the Tape at Pocono


Greg Biffle (No. 16 Rite Aid/Ace Ford)


· One win, two top fives, four top 10s
· Average finish of 17.5
· Average Running Position of 14.6, 12th-best
· Driver Rating of 87.1, 13th-best
· 92 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
· 1,274 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 160.009 mph, 11th-fastest
· 1,930 Laps in the Top 15 (64.9%), eighth-most
· 616 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), eighth-most

Jeff Burton (No. 31 Cheerios Chevrolet)


· Seven top fives, 17 top 10s
· Average finish of 16.2
· Average Running Position of 14.5, 11th-best
· Driver Rating of 87.1, 12th-best
· 1,301 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
· 1,854 Laps in the Top 15 (62.4%), 10th-most

Kurt Busch (No. 78 Furniture Row/Sealy Chevrolet)


· Two wins, nine top fives, 12 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 16.1
· Average Running Position of 11.0, fourth-best
· Driver Rating of 103.7, third-best
· 300 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 160.544 mph, third-fastest
· 2,068 Laps in the Top 15 (73.5%), seventh-most

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Subway Ford)

· Two wins, five top fives, eight top 10s
· Average finish of 13.2
· Average Running Position of 14.9, 13th-best
· Driver Rating of 97.4, sixth-best
· 169 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 160.284 mph, sixth-fastest
· 1,867 Laps in the Top 15 (62.8%), ninth-most
· 595 Quality Passes, 11th-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 AARP Credit Cards from Chase Chevrolet)

· Six wins, 18 top fives, 28 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 10.2
· Average Running Position of 10.3, third-best
· Driver Rating of 100.9, fourth-best
· 110 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
· 1,244 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 160.425 mph, fourth-fastest
· 2,231 Laps in the Top 15 (75.1%), third-most
· 692 Quality Passes, third-most

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Freight/Autism Speaks Toyota)


· Four wins, eight top fives, nine top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 10.7
· Series-best Average Running Position of 9.1
· Series-best Driver Rating of 115.1
· Series-high 430 Fastest Laps Run
· Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 160.936 mph
· 2,105 Laps in the Top 15 (82.0%), fifth-most
· 559 Quality Passes, 13th-most

Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Jimmy John's Chevrolet)

· Five top fives, eight top 10s
· Average finish of 14.1
· Average Running Position of 14.3, 10th-best
· Driver Rating of 89.6, 11th-best
· Series-high 1,380 Green Flag Passes
· Average Green Flag Speed of 160.000 mph, 12th-fastest
· 1,835 Laps in the Top 15 (61.7%), 11th-most
· 640 Quality Passes, seventh-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's/Monsters University Chevrolet)


· Two wins, nine top fives, 15 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 9.0
· Average Running Position of 9.8, second-best
· Driver Rating of 107.6, second-best
· 223 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 160.687 mph, second-fastest
· Series-high 2,376 Laps in the Top 15 (79.9%)
· 725 Quality Passes, second-most

Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet)


· One win, four top fives, six top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 16.8
· Average Running Position of 13.8, ninth-best
· Driver Rating of 91.4, ninth-best
· 192 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· 1,304 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 160.219 mph, eighth-fastest
· 1,835 Laps in the Top 15 (61.7%), 11th-most
· 645 Quality Passes, sixth-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota)


· Three top fives, 10 top 10s
· Average finish of 14.3
· Average Running Position of 13.1, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 90.7, 10th-best
· 1,203 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 160.162 mph, ninth-fastest
· 1,820 Laps in the Top 15 (61.2%), 13th-most
· 661 Quality Passes, fifth-most

Mark Martin (No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota)

· 20 top fives, 34 top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 11.1
· Average Running Position of 12.2, seventh-best
· Driver Rating of 94.4, eighth-best
· 93 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 160.311 mph, fifth-fastest
· 2,100 Laps in the Top 15 (70.7%), sixth-most
· 600 Quality Passes, ninth-most

Ryan Newman (No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet)


· One win, seven top fives, 10 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 12.4
· Average Running Position of 11.1, fifth-best
· Driver Rating of 95.4, seventh-best
· 1,232 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 160.068 mph, 10th-fastest
· 2,287 Laps in the Top 15 (77.0%), second-most
· Series-high 750 Quality Passes

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevrolet)

· Two wins, 11 top fives, 20 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 11.3
· Average Running Position of 12.1, sixth-best
· Driver Rating of 98.6, fifth-best
· 80 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
· 1,340 Green Flag Passes, third-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 160.272 mph, seventh-fastest
· 2,138 Laps in the Top 15 (71.9%), fourth-most
· 685 Quality Passes, fourth-most

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Re: Party in the Poconos 400 Betting News and Notes

Pocono 400 Preview
By Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com

We’re at the halfway point of the season before NASCAR’s Chase for the Championship starts and a few drivers are going to have to make some things happen quickly if they want to be part of NASCAR’s playoffs. The top-10 drivers in the standings are all guaranteed a spot in the Chase, and two wild card spots will offered to drivers sitting 11 through 20 that have the most wins.

Tony Stewart enhanced his chances of making the Chase by winning last week at Dover. He is the only driver currently sitting in the 11-20 position in points to have a win, and as each of the next 13 races passes, he can start to lower his magic number.

Stewart, who has been awful all season, captured his first top-5 of the season with his Dover win, but this is supposed to be the time of year when he takes his game to another level, and this week’s race at Pocono should help him continue his upward progression. He’s won twice on the tricky 2.5-mile triangle layout at Pocono and has finished fifth or better in six of his past nine starts there.

One of the drivers outside the top-20 in points who needs great finishes, and wins, every week is Denny Hamlin. Last week at Dover, Hamlin led three times for 43 laps, and looked to be in position to possibly get his first win of the season, but then got involved in an accident relegating him to a 34th-place finish and dropping him to 26th in points.

But things should get better real quick for Hamlin, who missed four races earlier in the season with back injury, because there aren’t many drivers better at Pocono than the Virginia native. He’s won there four times over his career, including twice as a rookie in 2006. If Hamlin can at least get a win or two along the way over the next few races, he can then focus on points racing to get himself positioned in the top-20. But as if of now, Hamlin will be going all out.

Points leader Jimmie Johnson is a two-time Pocono winner and always seems to be near the front, but he hasn’t won there since sweeping the 2004 season. He’s finished fourth in the three of his last four starts there.

Jeff Gordon is the active leader with six Pocono wins, including the last time they were on the track in 2012. Gordon is in a better situation than most on the season, but still doesn’t have any wins. If the final wild card spot came down to Gordon and Stewart, Gordon would miss out even though being higher in points. Like Hamlin, he needs to win.

Other drivers that have fared well in recent years at Pocono are Carl Edwards (2 wins) and Brad Keselowski (2011 winner). Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch have never won at Pocono, but they’ll have the horses to be close this year. Busch is a two-time runner-up.

Top-5 Finish Prediction:

1) #11 Denny Hamlin (7/1)
2) #18 Kyle Busch (7/1)
3) #48 Jimmie Johnson (6/1)
4) #24 Jeff Gordon (12/1)
5) #14 Tony Stewart (15/1)

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Re: Party in the Poconos 400 Betting News and Notes

Toyota to reduce horsepower to improve engine reliability
By Bob Pockrass
Sportingnews

Toyota Racing Development likely will scale back the horsepower in its engines for this weekend’s race at Pocono Raceway as it tries to determine the source of valve spring issues that have felled three engines in the last two weeks.

Kyle Busch failed to finish the Sprint Cup race at Charlotte two weeks ago while Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr. didn’t get to the end Sunday at Dover.
Matt Kenseth blew an engine while leading last week at Dover. (AP Photo)

Those failures, combined with two in the season-opening Daytona 500 and then one to Clint Bowyer in March at California, have soured a season in which Toyota has eight poles and five victories in the first 13 races between Joe Gibbs Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing.

“We know our drivers are capable, we know the cars are as good or better than any other cars in the garage and we believe our engines to be as good or better,” said TRD Senior Vice President David Wilson.

“So we can afford to back it down a notch to make sure that we have our durability.”

The issues have primarily been valve train related, and that typically is the most fragile part of a Cup engine.

JGR switched to TRD engines in 2012 because of reliability issues as well as the switch to electronic fuel injection, which TRD had extensive experience with while JGR did not.

Four times this year, JGR has had engines fail in races. It also had to replace two at Phoenix, but TRD considers one of those a fluke parts failure on an engine that didn’t have many miles on it and the other that weekend was attributable to an engine tuner mistake.

“We wouldn’t have made the switch if we didn’t trust the group, the team that they have over there,” JGR President J.D. Gibbs said. “Having (JGR engine builder) Mark Cronquist as part of the mix is real helpful. So they’re all going over how you approach the future.

“We have the faith and confidence those guys will get it all figured out.”

At Dover, Toyota drivers had four of the top five spots in qualifying.

“A big reason why this is such a story is because of how strong our performance has been this year,” Wilson said. “Five races (won), eight poles, leading over 50 percent of the laps — that’s pretty stout and a big part of that performance is a combination of driver, car, team and engine.

“One of the realizations that we’ve had to deal with is that we may have been pushing a little too hard on the engine side.”

Wilson said all performance development has been put on the shelf in order that everyone can focus on durability and reliability efforts.

TRD is still determining what caused the valve springs to fail — was it the materials, the temperatures, the loads, etc. — but obviously the quick fix is to scale back on horsepower.

Approximately how much horsepower TRD plans to give up, Wilson wouldn’t say. Toyota teams also are expected to have some new parts in the engines this weekend at Pocono but it will take time to make sure it has the parts and pieces to sustain the level of performance.

“With the NASCAR scoring system being what it is, a DNF is as much of a penalty as a win is a victory,” Wilson said. “We need to have our equipment go the distance in order to fight for a championship. … To give our teams that peace of mind is to back the performance down just a tad.

“The last thing we want to do is handicap our teams. But we’re dealing with the clock and the calendar and the realities.”

The Charlotte and Dover races were the first two races since Daytona where it was a valve spring issue that caused the engine failures.

“We went 10 weekends without a race incident with a valve spring,” Wilson said. “Every engine builder will say while you may get through a race without a failure, every one of our competitors, including ourselves, are always walking a fine line and a tightrope in terms of performance versus durability.

“This past two weekends we fell off that tightrope. Despite the fact we went 10 weeks without an issue, our margin just isn’t sufficient.”

The next two races — Pocono and Michigan — can be tough on engines. Even though both races are 400 miles, those tracks require optimal horsepower to maintain pace.

“In a vacuum, six failures across 13 races, any way you measure it, is unacceptable,” Wilson said. “Relative to our competition, it’s too many. … The good news is that we have amazing performance right now.

“We just need to tackle this last 5 percent, which is durability, and we’re on a path to compete for our first championship in the Sprint Cup Series.”

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Re: Party in the Poconos 400 Betting News and Notes

NASCAR News and Notes Heading Into Pocono
Nascar.com

Halfway Home, Wild Card Watch Begins

With half of the regular season in the record book, the road to the 2013 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™ figures to take a variety of twists and turns through the next 13 races, beginning with Sunday’s Party in the Poconos 400. Pocono Speedway’s first of two events kicks off TNT’s NASCAR Summer Series of six events at 1 p.m. EDT (TNT, Motor Racing Network Radio and SiriusXM Radio).

The Chase lineup will be set Sept. 7 at Richmond International Raceway. The top 10 in points automatically qualify for the Chase. Two Wild Cards – drivers ranked 11th through 20th with the most wins – fill out the field of 12.

By points margins, the current top 10 is unsettled. From eighth – Kyle Busch – to 13th – Greg Biffle – the spread is just 21 points. A year ago, nine of the 10 drivers qualifying for the Chase by points occupied a top-10 position entering the regular season’s final 13 races.

So it’s not too early to consider the Wild Card scenarios.

Tony Stewart, until recently outside the top 20, is the current Wild Card leader (16th) following Sunday’s victory at Dover International Speedway.

Jeff Gordon, 11th in the standings, holds the second Wild Card based upon his points position.

David Ragan won at Talladega but ranks 27th and is 113 points outside top-20 eligibility.

Stewart’s Dover victory was his first top-five finish of the 2013 campaign – the slowest start in 15 seasons for the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion. To say Stewart-Haas Racing has struggled would be an understatement, but Stewart said last month at Charlotte his team had turned the corner.

Only 33 points outside the top 10, Stewart may not be a Wild Card hopeful for long. He finished third in Pocono’s first race a year ago, fifth in the second. Stewart counts two victories at the track and a fifth-best Driver Rating of 98.6.

Of Stewart’s 48 career victories, 42 have come after June 1.

Gordon, likewise, is trending upward. A trio of accident-caused DNFs has offset three third-place finishes, the most recent coming last Sunday. He’s gained 10 positions in the points since Bristol, where Gordon suffered one of three finishes of 34th or worse.

The four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion won last August’s weather-shortened Pocono event, his second victory in the last four races and sixth overall at the 2.5-mile track. Gordon enjoys a third-best Pocono Driver Rating (100.9) and series-best top-five (18) and top-10 (28) finishes.

Hamlin Reboots Chase Quest After Dover Stumble

Two steps forward, one giant step back for Denny Hamlin and his bid to qualify for this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™.

Last Sunday’s 36th-place Dover finished virtually wiped out the success he enjoyed – and points gained – at Darlington and Charlotte, Hamlin’s first two full races since his back injury in late March.

Hamlin’s only Chase opportunity will come through the Wild Card process. But to gain eligibility, he must reach a top-20 ranking. Seventy-six points out of 20th entering May’s Darlington race, Hamlin had cut the deficit to 53. He now trails 20th-place Ryan Newman by 74 markers.

Pocono would appear to offer Hamlin a great opportunity to regain momentum. It’s long been one of the Virginian’s best tracks – beginning with a sweep in 2006, Hamlin’s rookie of the year campaign. Hamlin dominates Pocono statistics: four victories, top Driver Rating of 115.1, series-best Average Running Position (9.1) and fastest Average Green Flag Speed (160.936 mph).

All well and good, but Hamlin, addressing media members last week, tossed out a caveat. Today’s Pocono, following repaving after the 2011 season, isn’t the same. Any advantage a driver enjoyed, he said, has vanished.

“We had a leg up; we had two legs up on everyone when we went there with the old pavement,” Hamlin said. “I think now we’re better than average but we’re not the best anymore at that track.”

A year ago, after repaving, Hamlin finished fifth in June’s race. He qualified second in August and led three laps but was eliminated in a late-race accident.

Qualifying remains Hamlin’s ace – especially on a new surface where track position is paramount. He’s qualified among the top 10 in eight consecutive Pocono events and won his second straight Coors Light Pole last weekend at Dover.

“Track position is total key,” he said. “And you have to be the fastest car.”

NASCAR’s Best Hunting For First Win At Pocono

What do Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have in common?

Answer: All are winless at Pocono Raceway.

Martin, who’ll make his 53rd Pocono start on Sunday, posted his seventh second-place finish in last year’s spring race. That set an unfortunate record – most runner-up finishes at a single track without a win. Martin’s first Pocono visit came in 1982.

Kenseth was unable to conquer Pocono as a Roush Fenway Racing driver. An 0-for-26 drought could end this weekend as Kenseth – already a three-time winner in 2013 – drives the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. JGR cars have visited Pocono’s Victory Lane nine times.

The JGR connection hasn’t helped Busch master the 2.5-mile Pennsylvania layout. Busch has four DNFs – three by accident – in 12 trips to Pocono, where his average finish is 19.2. Busch has been second twice but failed to finish either race a year ago. His 63 laps led are second fewest (to Indianapolis) on a series track.

Harvick’s Pocono drought is a head scratcher. He’s working a streak of 16 consecutive lead-lap finishes and 21 overall, the latter number the Bakersfield, Calif., veteran’s best on a series track. His team, Richard Childress Racing, last won at Pocono with Dale Earnhardt in 1993.

Earnhardt Jr. won a pole and finished second in his final start with Dale Earnhardt Inc. in 2007. His modest string of three top-10 finishes – Junior’s best with Hendrick Motorsports – ended with last summer’s 32nd-place finish in a weather-shortened event won by teammate Jeff Gordon. Earnhardt, however, led both Pocono races a year ago, the first time he’d led back-to-back events at the track since 2003.

At Midpoint, Stats Tell First-Half Story

It’s been quite the first half, with an abundance of competition statistics that illustrate the Gen-6 race car’s debut.

Speed thrills, and it’s a standout characteristic of the Gen-6 car in its debut season – seven track qualifying records have been set thus far.

Tight finishes have been the norm. Over the first 13 races, there has been an average margin of victory of .893 seconds, which is only the fourth time since the inception of electronic timing and scoring in 1993 that the average MOV has been under a second through 13 events.

Two statistics in particular highlight the Gen-6 race car’s ability to level the playing field – lead lap finishes and cars running at the finish. This season, 46.3% of the cars have finished on the lead lap, compared to 38.6% through 13 races in 2012. Through the first half, 81.2% of the cars have been running at the finish, the highest total through 13 races since 2009.

Passing figures have increased at a number of venues during the first half, most notably at intermediate tracks. At Las Vegas Motor Speedway, there were 31 green flag passes for the lead, a new track best since the inception of Loop Data in 2005. At Auto Club Speedway, there were 41 green flag passes for the lead, which tied a track record. The Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway saw 35 passes for the lead, which tied a race best.

And last Sunday’s race at Dover featured 25 passes for the lead, which set a track Loop Data record.

First Time’s A Charm: Tricky Triangle Kind To Rookies

Pocono Raceway defies logic. Its three-turn dilemma screams growing pains. Yet, that’s not the case for some. Often, first-timers fare just fine.

Take Denny Hamlin, the prime example in rookie success at Pocono. In 2006, Hamlin’s rookie season, he swept the Pocono races – winning each from the Coors Light Pole. In the first, he led 83 laps. In the second: 151.

Or sample Carl Edwards’ Pocono debut. In 2005, Edwards had already collected his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He entered Pocono with that one win, and marched his way through the field to win in his first Pocono start after starting 29th.

So, that might give some hope to Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Danica Patrick, neither of whom have raced at Pocono.

Patrick turned laps at Pocono last week during a test session and looks to become the first female to score a top-10 finish there in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Janet Guthrie is the only female to race in the Sprint Cup series, with a top finish of 11th in three starts.

Stenhouse, who has finished in the top 20 in each of the last six races but has yet to score his first career top-10 finish, leads the rookie standings by four points over Patrick.

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Re: Party in the Poconos 400 Betting News and Notes

Driver Handicaps: Pocono
By: Jeff Wackerlin
Racingone.com

To help you make your fantasy racing picks, MotorRacingNetwork.com's Jeff Wackerlin brings you his weekly detailed analysis to help steer you toward Sunday's Party in the Poconos 400 at Pocono Raceway.

Who's HOT at Pocono

• Two-time winner Jimmie Johnson leads all drivers with a 9.0 average finish.
• Jeff Gordon leads all drivers in wins (6) and laps led (965).
• Tony Stewart has finished in the top five in five of the last eight races, including a win in the 2009 June race.
• Four-time winner Denny Hamlin scored his eighth top-five finish (fifth) last year in this event.
• Mark Martin leads all drivers entered in the race in poles (3) and 34 top-10 finishes.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr., who led 36 laps in this event last year, has finished in the top 10 in three of his last four starts.
• Clint Bowyer finished in the top 10 in both races last season.

Who to Keep an Eye On at Pocono

• Defending race winner Joey Logano has won two of the last three poles and will be making his first track start with Penske Racing.
• Stewart-Haas Racing and Richard Childress Racing both tested at Pocono last week.
• Carl Edwards (9.0), Ryan Newman (9.0), Paul Menard (10.0) and Brad Keselowski (11.0) each rank in the top 10 in average finish in the two races last year on Pocono's newly repaved surface.
• Kasey Kahne is coming off a second-place finish at Pocono and was running in the top 10 in this event last year until a cut tire late in the race took him out of contention.
• Kyle Busch (955) and Matt Kenseth (922) are the top two drivers in laps led in the 13 races with the Gen-6 racecar.
• Two-time Pocono winner Kurt Busch - who will make his first track start with Furniture Row Racing - has led 85 laps and posted a 9.7 average finish in his last three starts of the season.
• Martin Truex Jr. is coming off his third top 10 in six Pocono starts with Michael Waltrip Racing.

Note: Sprint Cup teams will be running the same combination of left- and right-side tires that they ran twice at Pocono last season on the newly paved surface.

MotorRacingNetwork.com Writer Picks

Jeff Wackerlin: Tony Stewart
Pete Pistone: Denny Hamlin
Dustin Long: Clint Bowyer
John Singler: Joey Logano

Top 20 Driver Notes - Ordered by current standings

(All stats/notes are in regards to Pocono unless noted)

Jimmie Johnson: Last of two wins came in 2004 when he swept both races; Scored third consecutive fourth-place finish last year in this event; Tied for the third-best average finish (9.0) in the two races last season on the newly repaved surface*; Led 44 laps in the August race last season; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 728) that he finished sixth with in Las Vegas and Texas.

Carl Edwards: Tied for the third-best average finish (9.0) in the two races last season on the newly repaved surface*; Last of two wins came in the 2008 August race; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 808) that he finished 17th with at Kansas Speedway.

Clint Bowyer:
Tied for the second-best average finish (7.0) in the two races - first two track starts with Michael Waltrip Racing - last season on the newly repaved surface*; Posted five top 10s in previous 12 starts with Richard Childress Racing.

Matt Kenseth: 15.0 average finish in the two races last season on the newly repaved surface*; Making first track start with Joe Gibbs Racing with the team that won this event last year; Seventh-place finish in this race last year was 10th top 10 in 26 starts.

Kevin Harvick: 15.0 average finish in the two races last season on the newly repaved surface*; Tested last week at Pocono; Has finished in the top five in three of his last six starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 391) that he finished 14th with at Bristol.

Dale Earnhardt Jr: Led the most laps (53) and posted a 20.0 average finish in the two races last season on the newly repaved surface*; 17.2 average finish in 10 starts with Hendrick Motorsports; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 798) for the Party in the Poconos 400.

Kasey Kahne: 15.5 average finish in the two races last season on the newly repaved surface*; Finished second last August in second track start with Hendrick Motorsports; Winner of this event in 2008 with Gillett Evernham Motorsports; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 779) that he finished 11th with at Texas.

Kyle Busch: 31.5 average finish in the two races last season on the newly repaved surface due to an engine failure and an accident; Posted 2.5 average finish in both races in 2011; 21.0 average finish in 10 starts with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Paul Menard: Tied for the fourth-best average finish (10.0) in the two races last season on the newly repaved surface*; 11.0 average finish in four starts with Richard Childress Racing; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 403) that he tested at Pocono and last finished 10th with at Kansas Speedway.

Brad Keselowski: 11.0 average finish in the two races last season on the newly repaved surface*; Winner of the 2011 August race; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 856) for the Party in the Poconos 400.

Jeff Gordon: Coming off sixth win in 40 starts; Has won in two of his last four starts; Six wins and 965 laps led leads all drivers; Tied for the fourth-best average finish (10.0) in the two races last season on the newly repaved surface*.

Aric Almirola: 23.0 average finish in the two races - only track starts - last season on the newly repaved surface*; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 837) that he finished eighth with at Richmond International Raceway.

Greg Biffle: 19.5 average finish in the two races last season on the newly repaved surface*; Winner of the 2010 August race; Last of four top 10s (eighth) in 20 starts came in the 2011 August race; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 844) that he finished 36th with at Richmond International Raceway.

Martin Truex Jr: 13.2 average finish in six starts with Michael Waltrip Racing; Coming off third top 10 (third place) with MWR; 11.5 average finish in the two races last season on the newly repaved surface*.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr: Making first track start in the Cup Series; Has made two ARCA Racing Series starts at Pocono, including a win in 2008; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 832) that he finished 16th with at Richmond International Raceway.

Tony Stewart: Winner of this event in 2009 - second win in 28 starts; 7.0 average finish in eight starts with Stewart-Haas Racing; Best average finish (4.0) in the two races last season on the newly repaved surface; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 706) that he tested at Pocono last week and at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Goodyear Tire Test; This is also the same chassis that he won with at Auto Club Speedway last year.

Kurt Busch: Finished 30th in only start last season with Phoenix Racing; Last of two wins came in the 2005 July race with Penske Racing; 16.1 average finish in 23 starts.

Joey Logano: Winner of this event last year; Tied for the second-best average finish (7.0) in the two races last season on the newly repaved surface; Combined to lead 49 laps in both races in 2012; Will make first track start with Penske Racing in the same car (chassis No. 848) that he finished fifth with at Texas Motor Speedway in April.

Jamie McMurray: 10th-place finish in this event last year is only top 10 in six starts driving an Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet; 13.5 average finish in the two races last season on the newly repaved surface.

Ryan Newman: Coming off third top 10 in his last four starts; Tied for the third-best average finish (9.0) in the two races last season on the newly repaved surface; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 733) that he last finished 10th with at Darlington Raceway.

*August race was shortened to 98 laps due to weather.

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Re: Party in the Poconos 400 Betting News and Notes

Sunday's NASCAR Action
By Sportsbook.ag

The NASCAR drivers will try to maneuver around the "The Tricky Triangle" when they start their engines Sunday for the Party at the Poconos 400 at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania. This superspeedway resides in the Pocono Mountains and its tri-oval shape measures 2.5 miles. Although the straightaways are all a nearly-flat 2° of banking, they all are measured at different lengths. The frontstretch is the longest at 3,740 feet, the backstretch is 3,055 feet, and the shortstretch is a mere 1,780 feet. Each turn has a different degree of difficulty. Turn 1 has 14° of banking, Turn 2 is just 8° and Turn 3 is the flattest at 6°. There have been eight different winners in the past 10 races at Pocono, with Denny Hamlin and Jeff Gordon -- the most recent winner at this track -- as the only two-time champions in the span.

Drivers to Watch

Brad Keselowski (12/1) - If you're strictly a one-driver bettor, put your wager on Keselowski. His odds are three times as much as race favorite Denny Hamlin despite winning at this track in 2011 and placing fourth in the most recent "Tricky Triangle" race. And it's not like he started at advantageous positions in either of those events, winning from the 13th spot and earning his No. 4 finish despite being No. 31 on the starting grid. And after struggling in two races with Kevin Buskirk as his crew chief, Keselowski nearly won at Dover last week with Paul Wolfe back calling the shots, placing fifth. He's also been strong on superspeedways in his young career with two wins, three top-5's and six top-10's.

Carl Edwards (20/1) - These are quite favorable odds for a driver that now sits in second place in the points standings thanks to five top-5's and an average finish of 10.5 this year. He's also had quite a career at Pocono, posting five top-5's, two wins and an average finish of 13.2 over 16 starts.

Jimmie Johnson (5/1) - He hasn't won at Pocono since his sweep in 2004, but that doesn't mean Johnson hasn't been successful in the mountains. In 22 career starts, he's finished outside the top-15 only once, tallying two wins, nine top-5's, 15 top-10's and a 9.0 average finish. He's also led for at least 22 laps in six of his past 10 starts at this track. And although he's placed 22nd and 17th in his past two races this season, the only other time he finished outside the top-10 in consecutive races this season (Bristol and Fontana) he won at Martinsville.

Greg Biffle (35/1) - Last spring, Biffle went off at 15-to-1 odds at this track, so there's no reason to think he can't contend at this track again. He won at Pocono in 2010 and placed eighth in 2011, giving him four top-8 finishes in his career at this track. Biffle has also led at least one lap in two of the past three races at the "Tricky Triangle." It's also time for Biffle to begin creeping back up the standings where he's fallen from 4th to 13th over his past five starts.

Paul Menard (100/1) - There admittedly aren't great longshot options here, but if you're feeling lucky, give Menard some one-unit action. He's raced well enough this season to sit ninth in the current standings, posting four top-10's and an average finish of 15.8. He's also been consistently strong at this track, placing 13th, 14th, 10th, 9th and 11th in his past five Pocono starts. His past four starting positions for this track (2nd, 7th, 3rd and 3rd) also shows that he can navigate the "Tricky Triangle" with the best of them.

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Re: Party in the Poconos 400 Betting News and Notes

Sunday's NASCAR Action
By Sportsbook.ag

The NASCAR drivers will try to maneuver around the "The Tricky Triangle" when they start their engines Sunday for the Party at the Poconos 400 at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania. This superspeedway resides in the Pocono Mountains and its tri-oval shape measures 2.5 miles. Although the straightaways are all a nearly-flat 2° of banking, they all are measured at different lengths. The frontstretch is the longest at 3,740 feet, the backstretch is 3,055 feet, and the shortstretch is a mere 1,780 feet. Each turn has a different degree of difficulty. Turn 1 has 14° of banking, Turn 2 is just 8° and Turn 3 is the flattest at 6°. There have been eight different winners in the past 10 races at Pocono, with Denny Hamlin and Jeff Gordon -- the most recent winner at this track -- as the only two-time champions in the span.

Drivers to Watch

Brad Keselowski (12/1) - If you're strictly a one-driver bettor, put your wager on Keselowski. His odds are three times as much as race favorite Denny Hamlin despite winning at this track in 2011 and placing fourth in the most recent "Tricky Triangle" race. And it's not like he started at advantageous positions in either of those events, winning from the 13th spot and earning his No. 4 finish despite being No. 31 on the starting grid. And after struggling in two races with Kevin Buskirk as his crew chief, Keselowski nearly won at Dover last week with Paul Wolfe back calling the shots, placing fifth. He's also been strong on superspeedways in his young career with two wins, three top-5's and six top-10's.

Carl Edwards (20/1) - These are quite favorable odds for a driver that now sits in second place in the points standings thanks to five top-5's and an average finish of 10.5 this year. He's also had quite a career at Pocono, posting five top-5's, two wins and an average finish of 13.2 over 16 starts.

Jimmie Johnson (5/1) - He hasn't won at Pocono since his sweep in 2004, but that doesn't mean Johnson hasn't been successful in the mountains. In 22 career starts, he's finished outside the top-15 only once, tallying two wins, nine top-5's, 15 top-10's and a 9.0 average finish. He's also led for at least 22 laps in six of his past 10 starts at this track. And although he's placed 22nd and 17th in his past two races this season, the only other time he finished outside the top-10 in consecutive races this season (Bristol and Fontana) he won at Martinsville.

Greg Biffle (35/1) - Last spring, Biffle went off at 15-to-1 odds at this track, so there's no reason to think he can't contend at this track again. He won at Pocono in 2010 and placed eighth in 2011, giving him four top-8 finishes in his career at this track. Biffle has also led at least one lap in two of the past three races at the "Tricky Triangle." It's also time for Biffle to begin creeping back up the standings where he's fallen from 4th to 13th over his past five starts.

Paul Menard (100/1) - There admittedly aren't great longshot options here, but if you're feeling lucky, give Menard some one-unit action. He's raced well enough this season to sit ninth in the current standings, posting four top-10's and an average finish of 15.8. He's also been consistently strong at this track, placing 13th, 14th, 10th, 9th and 11th in his past five Pocono starts. His past four starting positions for this track (2nd, 7th, 3rd and 3rd) also shows that he can navigate the "Tricky Triangle" with the best of them.

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Re: Party in the Poconos 400 Betting News and Notes

Party in the Poconos 400 Post-Practice Betting Notes
By: Micah Roberts
Sportingnews.com

LAS VEGAS--The biggest story coming into this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup weekend at Pocono Raceway was Toyota Racing Development announcing that the monstrous horsepower they have produced through the first 13 races would be reduced. There have been some engine malfunctions this season -- three in the last two weeks -- from the Joe Gibbs and Michael Waltrip stables. And while that horsepower has produced success on the year for Toyota, the added dimension of shifting at Pocono was likely deemed to have created more stress on the engines that will already be running at maximum RPM’s down the long front straightaway.

The announcement alone was enough to have second thoughts on drivers like Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth, who were all considered favorites to win Sunday’s Party in the Poconos 400. Rain washed away Friday’s first scheduled practice session and qualifying, so Saturday was the first chance to actually see how much slower Toyota would be.

At the completion of both Saturday practices, it was apparent that the reduction of power is probably a little more extreme than the Gibbs and Waltrip organizations had bargained for. For the Gibbs trio, they were collectively slower than they had been on any other type of track this season that requires lots of horsepower- tracks that they had won five times on already.

Kenseth has never fared well at Pocono -- his last top-5 finish came in 2006, but he had experienced a pleasant change of scenery this season with Gibbs at places he didn’t typically run well at. This biggest change from his career record this season was winning for the first time at Darlington in early May. Before the TRD announcement, there was intrigue with Kenseth's possibilities -- he opened as a 5-to-1 co-favorite at LVH. But now after practice and knowledge of why he’s so slow, Kenseth isn’t so tempting this week.

The same goes for Denny Hamlin, who has the best overall Pocono record among the Gibbs’ drivers. He’s averaged a 10.7 finish and has won four times on the 2.5-mile tricky triangle, but could only muster the 13th fastest lap during happy hour after being 26th quickest in the early session. He was considered the favorite among the favorites coming in, but the speed charts don’t lie, especially with Hamlin, who has never been accused of sandbagging in practice.

Kyle Busch was fastest among the Toyota drivers in happy hour with the 10th fastest lap. He’s almost been a winner at Pocono several times, but two runner-up finishes remain his best.

With those elite cars appearing to be down, that elevates several others to the top. Jimmie Johnson was already one of the co-favorites to win, but now he gets moved up even more because of not having as stiff of competition against him. He was fastest in the first practice and second during happy hour, where he also had the fastest 10-consecutive lap average among the four drivers that ran at least 10 straight. Johnson hasn’t won at Pocono since sweeping the 2004 season, but he still leads all active drivers with a 9th-place average finish.

The driver that was the most eye-popping on the speed charts was Carl Edwards, who second and third fastest, respectively, during Saturday’s practices. It was easily the fastest Edwards has looked during any practice session this season and a sign that we might be seeing a back-flip on Sunday. We’ve seen him do it twice before at Pocono, once as a rookie in 2005, and the other time in 2008.

It’s apparent that Tony Stewart’s Dover in not only woke himself up, but also his entire organization. It’s like they flipped the switch on and all of sudden, they’re fast. Stewart doesn’t typically run fast in any practices, but was showing off some great speed Saturday, as was teammate Ryan Newman. Both drivers have been excellent at Pocono over their careers and each present great value this week.

In all likelihood, this 400 mile event should be just as exciting as the two were last season, and it could also provide an unlikely winner. Nine of the past 11 Pocono races have provided different winners. The combination of shifting, the new Gen-6 car and fairly new surface has all kinds of variables intertwined to make it one of the better races seen at Pocono, a place that has typically been labeled as boring over the years.

If Toyota is as slow as they look, we could see someone like Kurt Busch, who was fast once again during practice, take the checkers for the first time this season. The way he looks in practice, he might even be able to beat the Gibbs' drivers even if their power wasn't reduced.

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