Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500

Race: Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500
Date: Sunday August 2nd, 2009
Track: Pocono Raceway
Time: 1 pm ET
Channel: ESPN

This weekend, we are headed back to the huge tri-oval known as Pocono. As Darrell Waltrip would say, “Let’s go tri-ovaling boys!” But I digress. Pocono is a 2.5 mile tri-oval, so essentially a superspeedway in just a different format than we see at Talladega or Daytona.

Pocono boasts huge straights. The frontstretch is an impressive 3740 feet while the backstretch is nothing to sneeze about at 3055 feet. Additionally, the turns all have different banking as well as the straights. Turn 1 is 14 degrees. Turn 2 is 8 degrees. Turn 3 is 6 degrees. The straights are 2 degrees. Notice I didn’t say turn 4. That’s what we mean by tri-oval for all of you newbies out there.

Pocono is different from the other super speedways in that you will not see much for bump drafting or long lines forming on the track. This is one of those tracks where guys will spread themselves out and hold 5 or 6 second leads. It’s a track where people like Denny Hamlin, who aren’t your typical super speedway kings, will do exceptionally well and your guys like Waltrip, Jr., and Johnson, who are great at Talladega and Daytona will not do quite as well.

The defending winner of this race is Carl Edwards. He won here last August. But let’s not forget that Tony Stewart won the first Pocono race this year. He’s pretty much on fire where as Edwards is playing catch-up. To be honest, I wouldn’t put too much money on Carl this weekend. Other past winners include Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon, and Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson who both have multiple wins here.

My pick this week: Denny Hamlin

Hamlin cam dangerously close to winning this spring and has what it takes if he can get to the front and avoid the wrecks. It’s a long race, so he needs to maintain his equipment and hold out for the long haul. Tony Stewart is bound to be a competitor as well as Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson. I think those are the top 5 guys to watch. Honestly, I have a ton of faith in Stewart and Johnson, but I think I’ve picked them way too much this year (even if they have been awesome picks and winners) that I need to go with someone else. Hamlin has an awesome shot at this track. It’s all about passion here and Hamlin has plenty of that for Pocono.

Here’s a recap of your current top 12:

1. Tony Stewart
2. Jimmie Johnson
3. Jeff Gordon
4. Kurt Busch
5. Carl Edwards
6. Denny Hamlin
7. Ryan Newman
8. Kasey Kahne
9. Mark Martin
10. Juan Montoya
11. Greg Biffle
12. Matt Kenseth

Now don’t count out Carl Edwards. He’s excited about this one, but with his recent struggles, I don’t see him in victory lane, although I’ll give him a solid top 10 this weekend. Hamlin just has a better shot at that win. Look for guys to be battling though as the Chase creeps closer and closer. Kyle Busch needs to have a solid weekend since he’s fallen out of the top 12. As much as I’m not a fan of whiners, I don’t necessarily want to see him out of the Chase. He always make things entertaining if nothing else.