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Fantasy Racing: Pocono 500

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, June 4 2009

Pocono 500
Pocono Raceway
Sunday, June 7, 12:30 ET, TNT

092507.Pocono_Multi2Race Facts: Still no official word if double file restarts amongst the leaders will be used on Sunday… Kasey Kahne won this race from the pole in 2008… In all, 13 of the 62 races at Pocono have been won from the top starting position… Despite Pocono’s size, track position is pretty important at Pocono, as more that 70% of the races at Pocono have been won by cars that have started inside the top 10… Darrell Waltrip won the pole in 1985, but lost his pole award 18 days later thanks to an illegal fuel additive that was found. Bill Elliott won that race after starting second… Carl Edwards is the worst qualifier to win at Pocono. He started 29th in 2005.

Drivers to Watch:

Tony Stewart: I know that I’m really going out on a limb here picking the points leader to do well, but with how snooze-inducing the races are at Pocono, it’s not very known how strong Stewart is at Pocono. In 20 races, Stewart has 14 top 10s. And even more recently, Stewart has five top 10s in his last six Pocono races, and would probably be sitting on a streak of six straight if it wasn’t for a speeding penalty in the last round of green flag pit stops in 2008’s first Pocono race. Stewart is money at Pocono.

Matt Kenseth: Pocono seems to be a track that suits Matt Kenseth’s style, and the long straightaways certainly are the Roush-Yates’ engines best friend. In Kenseth’s last six starts at Pocono, his worst finish is 14th. Kenseth probably isn’t going to qualify up front—what’s new—but he’ll slowly pick his way to the front and will be at or near the top 10 by the time the race ends.

Marcos Ambrose: Ambrose has never competed in a Sprint Cup race at Pocono, but that didn’t stop Denny Hamlin from dominating at the race track in 2006. Along with Phoenix, Pocono can be considered a “roval” with the three relatively flat, sweeping turns, and that plays right into Ambrose’s road course background. The Toyota horsepower will help on the straights, and it’s not going to be much of a surprise if Ambrose has a top 10 on Sunday.

Drivers to Watch Out for:

Elliott Sadler: Sadler has as many starts at Pocono as Stewart does, but instead of 14 top 10s, Sadler only has two. Yikes. And that’s saying something, considering the horsepower that Sadler had in his time at Yates Racing. Sadler still will be using the old Dodge engine, and is still struggling this season after finishing fifth at Daytona. Sadler’s highest finish since then? 14th. Avoid him like the plague.

Kyle Busch: Busch is having the worst luck of anyone in NASCAR’s top three series, having five straight potential wins snatched from him because of mechanical problems. And without being snakebitten, Busch isn’t very good at Pocono. Last year, he finished 36th in the first race, and 43rd in the second race after crashing twice. Because of the sample size, those two finishes bring down Busch’s average finish to 22nd, but ever since finishing fourth in his first race at Pocono, Busch has slowly trended downwards.

David Ragan: After surprising everyone last year, Ragan’s struggles this year are pretty inexplicable, unless you want to blame the curse of UPS. (Since 2003, the driver of the UPS car hasn’t finished higher than 15th in the points standings) Ragan has finished 24th or worse in three of his four Pocono starts, and with the way he’s running right now, a top 10 would be a shock.

Stone Cold Lock of the Week:

Kasey Kahne:I’m picking Kahne not only because of his win last year, but because of his performance in his first race with the new Dodge engine last Sunday at Dover. After qualifying second, Kahne ran up front all day with the leaders and finished sixth. Coming off of two straight top 10s at Pocono and with some newfound horsepower, Kahne is my pick to win on Sunday.

(Last week was ugly. I certainly didn’t think that Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart’s season momentum would override their past histories at Dover. Oh well, week’s like that are inevitable at times.)

Last Week:

Drivers to Watch: Truex Jr. – 21st, Martin – 10th, Bowyer – 11th

Drivers to Watch Out For: Kurt Busch – 5th, Stewart – 2nd, Andretti – 34th

Stone Cold Lock: Edwards – 7th

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, June 4 2009
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