2008 Pennsylvania 500 Preview
by Virginia Vroom of Predictem.com
We’re headed back to the 2.5 mile triangle track that we were at a little less than 2 months ago. This track is always a great place to go because it’s so unpredictable. It always makes for an exciting race. We know Stewart can get a serious attitude here, and we’ve always seen Gordon lose brakes here on more than one occasion, leading to his worst career crash.
So really, if you are a Gordon hater, this is the race for you! He seems to either do absolutely great or fails miserably. Typically, it’s mechanical failures for him. For other drivers, like Stewart, anger and grudges tend to get the best of them. Pocono itself is a much different track than most because it has only 3 corners. It is certainly not a typical track, but speeds still get high here because we have a 3740 foot front stretch. The back stretch is just a little over 3000 feet, allowing some good speeds to get to the charts here as well. Each turn is unique, having different banking. Turn one yields 14 degree banks with turn 2 showing 8 degrees. The final turn yields 6 degree banking. Nothing too significant in terms of banking should affect the drivers.
I certainly don’t think that we are going to see any of the insanity that we saw last week, but keep in mind that tires do, in fact, play a role at Pocono. If we have some long green flag runs, we’re going to see that wear come back on those right sides. Hopefully, we won’t be seeing cords after only 5 laps, but blowouts have been known to happen here. More than tires, though, we see fuel mileage as a HUGE part of this race. Depending on how the cautions fall, fuel could be a problem for many drivers if they don’t play their cards right. In fact, rain delays and fuel have led to many exciting finishes here.
Here’s the current top twelve to give you an idea of where these guys stand with only 5 races left before the Chase drivers are locked in:
1. Kyle Busch
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
3. Jeff Burton
4. Jimmie Johnson
5. Carl Edwards
6. Jeff Gordon
7. Greg Biffle
8. Denny Hamlin
9. Kasey Kahne
10. Tony Stewart
11. Matt Kenseth
12. Clint Bowyer
So let’s take a quick look at past winners here. Jeff Gordon has won here 3 times, the last win being in 2007. If memory serves me correctly, he won under red flag conditions because of rain, but hey, he was first when it mattered. His teammate, Johnson, has a couple of wins here as does Kurt Busch. Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart both have a win here, but perhaps the most notable name is Denny Hamlin. In his rookie year, he swept both poles and both wins. How many drivers can say that? With Hamlin’s performance last weekend, I think that we need to put some money with the #11. He’s been running well in the last couple of weeks, competing for the win last weekend. I think he’s the one to watch this weekend. It’s one of his favorite tracks and he’s dialed in right now.
Besides Hamlin, Johnson is obviously dialed in as well. No other drivers are really standing out, though. Kyle Busch is ALWAYS someone to watch as he’s dominated most everything he’s raced this year. I would put some money on Hamlin and on Busch. You can’t really ever bet against him. The Hendrick cars seem to be getting stronger and are now becoming a force to be reckoned with on a more consistent basis, but I would say that the Gibbs guys are going to be the biggest competition this weekend.