Race: 5-Hour Energy 500
Date: Sunday June 12, 2011
Track: Pocono Raceway
Time: 1 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com
Bet on the 5 Hour Energy 500 at one of the web’s oldest and most respected sportsbooks: Intertops.
Over the field and across the pond, to the triangle track we go! We are headed to Pocono this weekend after what was one of the most interesting weekend in sports in quite a while. Jr. almost won again, but at least he managed to maintain 2nd place after another fuel strategy race at Kansas. Perhaps the funniest news happened after the truck race on Saturday where Kyle Busch managed to get himself head-locked and beat up by a 65 year old man. Who is this man you ask? Why, none other than Richard Childress! Quite frankly, I find it absolutely hilarious and karma that Busch got himself beat up over a situation in which he said he did nothing wrong…again. Anywho, Childress was fined $150,000 but it was probably worth every cent to him despite his public apologies on his behavior.
This weekend we are going to Pocono. This track is somewhat of an endurance race. We see long green runs and few wrecks because of the length and configuration of the track. This track is not a typical super speedway with the guys drafting and bumping like they do at Talladega and Daytona. It is 2.5 miles, but with only 3 turns, the aerodynamics don’t play in the favor of the drafting we see at the other big tracks. This tri-oval boasts different banking through all of the turns. Turn 1 is 14 degrees. Turn 2 is 8 degrees. Turn 3 is 6 degrees. The straights are nearly flat at 2 degrees. The frontstretch is 3740 feet with the backstretch coming in at 3055 feet.
Kansas Roush success continues moving into this track this weekend. Biffle is the defending winner here with Kenseth and Edwards generally having strong runs. Other than the Roush team, Denny Hamlin has figured out something on this track. The way that Johnson ruled at Charlotte is the way that Denny rules here. He’s my pick for this weekend. He’s been relatively consistent in good runs for the most part with the exception of some bad luck. This is the track where I think he will definitely pick up a win. Other guys to watch include Jr. only because he’s been having extremely strong runs. He’s edging closer and closer to getting that unattainable win this season. I also think that Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards are going to be strong if they can get their pit strategies right. Look for Juan Pablo and Tony Stewart to have strong and fast runs as well.
Here’s a look at your current top 10 after Kansas:
1. Carl Edwards
2. Jimmie Johnson
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Kyle Busch
6. Kurt Busch
7. Matt Kenseth
8. Tony Stewart
9. Clint Bowyer
10. Ryan Newman
I’m pretty surprised that we’ve seen Ryan Newman maintain his top 10 position for this long. We rarely see him even so much as mentioned during the race, but he’s managed to hold on, so keep your eyes peeled to see if he can stay ahead of Denny Hamlin. Hamlin, though, should pop into the top 10 after this weekend. He is, as it stands, only 1 point behind 10th place. Right now, there is a total of 51 points separating 20th and 10th. That’s not much of a gap. It is quite possible to make that up.
There are big names like Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, and Mark Martin who have had their fair share of struggles, bouncing in and out of the top 10. Don’t count them out just yet.
Stay tuned this weekend as we head to the triangle track, where we will see who moves in and who moves out of those coveted top 10 spots.
Virginia’s Pick to Win the 5 Hour Energy 500: Denny Hamlin. Take him in all head to head matchups.