GoBowling.com 400 Predictions – Pocono Raceway

Date: Sunday August 3, 2014
Track: Pocono Raceway
Time: 1 pm ET

by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com

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Jeff Gordon showed that he’s still got it after picking up his 5th win at Indianapolis Speedway! He dominated a good portion of the race along with his teammate Kasey Kahne to come away with the win on Sunday. It was a good race, but fairly atypical from what we usually see in an Indy race when it comes to cautions and mishaps. Nonetheless, it was still a great race as the Brickyard can never disappoint! This weekend, we are headed back to Pocono to see if Gordon can carry his momentum to another victory.

Pocono is notoriously a good track for Gordon. This 2.5 mile tri-oval is an anomaly of the circuit and is often coined the “Tricky Triangle”. It boasts a 3740 foot frontstretch and a 3055 backstretch. That’s certainly nothing to sneeze at! The “short” stretch of the track, created by the 3 turns, comes in at 1780, which is still double the size of the straights at Martinsville just to give you an idea.

The strategy to this track is basically just knowing how to get around such an odd place. There’s a ton of speed because of the long straights, but brakes are still important. Just ask Jeff Gordon. I’m sure he’d agree. Regardless, crew chiefs are important this week in formulating pit strategies too. It’s going to be very important to choose tire correctly but also to pick the right fuel strategy. We’ve seen more often than not that Pocono can come down to a fuel race. As much as I hate that part of NASCAR, it always seems to rain at Pocono. Hopefully, this weekend is a different story, but don’t be surprised if we end up rain-soaked again. This is the place to fully expect that.

Now, it’s going to be hard to bet against Gordon, especially coming fresh from a win at Indy. That team had the right setup and a great driver and the stars aligned to get that win. But we also have to consider the domination by drivers like Keselowski coming into this weekend. He’s had nothing short of a championship type season thus far. A couple of months ago, he probably should have won this race, but debris on his grill dashed those hopes. Jr. came away with the win here when that happened. Speaking of Jr., we can’t even bet against him either! That whole team has certainly stepped up to the plate. We are talking about an awesome group of drivers this year. They have been so competitive and on point. It makes it somewhat difficult to pick a winner because of that. If I had to go with someone, I really would put my money on Keselowski. He’s got so much passion this year. He’s really got a lot going for him, and I think that he will pick up where he left off here earlier this year and pick up that win. That’s not to say that Jr. and Gordon aren’t going to be competitive, but I would look for Keselowski to edge them out. Here’s a peek at your potential winners for this weekend:

My Pick to Win: Brad Keselowski
Middle of the Road Pick: Denny Hamlin
Dark Horse Prediction: Kyle Larson

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Oh, Denny Hamlin! If you’ve been following the news at all today, you’ve heard about the largest penalty handed out by NASCAR officials under this new system. And if you listened closely, you found out that it was given to Hamlin and his team. That being said, Hamlin seems to thrive under adversity. With this truly being one of his best tracks, I’d look for him to be strong come Sunday afternoon. Finally, Kyle Larson is another good pick. He’s really come a long way in figuring out these big flat tracks. Indy is one of those and he finished top 10, while he also took home a 5th place at the last Pocono race. Look for him to maintain that consistency. And with that, let’s see how the points are shaping up after last week’s race at the Brickyard.

Here are your current top 16 after last week’s race:

1. Jeff Gordon
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
3. Brad Keselowski
4. Matt Kenseth
5. Jimmie Johnson
6. Kyle Busch
7. Ryan Newman
8. Carl Edwards
9. Joey Logano
10. Clint Bowyer
11. Kevin Harvick
12. Kyle Larson
13. Austin Dillon
14. Kasey Kahne
15. Paul Menard
16. Greg Biffle

There are several drivers locked into the Chase after last weekend. There are very few spots remaining for guys to fill in the gap. The greatest hope is going to be a win at this point. Look for guys to take some chances as we start to wind down the regular season. These next few weeks are going to be intense! Stay tuned for this weekend’s challenge at Pocono!