Pocono 400 Picks

Race: Pocono 400 Presented by NASCAR
Date: Sunday June 10, 2012
Track: Pocono Raceway
Time: 12 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Betting Handicapper, Predictem.com

It looks like Jimmie Johnson may be trying to make a comeback. After winning the All-Star in Charlotte, Johnson managed another win, this time for points, at Dover on Sunday. In the meanwhile, teammate Jeff Gordon had another disappointing weekend, finishing outside the top 10 once again despite a dominating performance. As they say, if he didn’t have bad luck, Gordon wouldn’t have luck at all!

This weekend, we are headed to a notoriously good track for Jeff. Regardless, I probably wouldn’t count on him taking home the trophy with his undoubtedly consistent bad runs. Pocono is an oddball track, perhaps giving advantage to veterans like Jeff Gordon. It’s a true triangle, with only 3 turns. The backstretch is impressive coming in at 3,055 feet.

The frontstretch is much smaller at just 1,780 feet. It’s easy to see how drivers can pick up so much speed here with such impressive stats on the backstretch coming into turn 1.

The banking is different through the entire track too. The banking in turn 1 is 14 degrees, 8 degrees in turn 2, 6 degrees in turn 3, and 2 degrees on the straights. The total length of the track is 2.5 miles. It is pretty wide too. These guys get 3 wide throughout the track.

One thing that is typical to see here though is for a single car to pull away from the field and dominate. Usually, you will see the leader easily 2 to 3 seconds ahead of the rest of the pack.

Track position and tires are the name of the game here. Because of the advantage that the leader is able to obtain at this track, it’s important for the other drivers to lose as little time as possible in the pits and on the track. When it comes to that skill, Denny Hamlin is one to watch. He’s awesome here. If he can come to Pocono with a decent car, I’d count him as your winner. Here are the other potentials for the weekend:

My Pick to Win: Denny Hamlin
Middle of the Road Pick: Martin Truex Jr.
Dark Horse Pick: Marcos Ambrose

With 2 poles and 4 wins, it’s hard to bet against Hamlin. This may also be Hamlin’s opportunity to break out of his rut. Truex Jr. needs to step it up. Pocono is a good track for him as well. He always runs well at the tracks that are big and fast, and Pocono is just that. Finally, Ambrose deserves some credit. He’s run up front for a handful of races and really doesn’t get the recognition that he deserves. If he can keep his car clean, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him at the front of the pack.
Here’s a look at your current top 10 in points after Dover:

1. Greg Biffle
2. Matt Kenseth
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Denny Hamlin
5. Jimmie Johnson
6. Martin Truex Jr.
7. Kevin Harvick
8. Tony Stewart
9. Kyle Busch
10. Clint Bowyer

Greg Biffle is just 1 point ahead of teammate Matt Kenseth. It’s crucial for him to have a good weekend. Dale Jr. is creeping closer to the top spot, just 10 points back. Finally, Carl Edwards fell out of the top 10, ultimately switching places with Bowyer. Edwards has some work to do if he intends to get a spot in the Chase this year.

Pocono, although typically full of long green flag runs, is going to prove to be imperative for some drivers to come away with a strong finish. It’s getting into that part of the season that is make it or break it. Jeff Gordon, especially, could use a little luck to go his way. This weekend, look for some drivers to push the limits, as we get closer and closer to Chase time and see these drivers try to force their way into the top spots.