Pocono Raceway – Pennsylvania 400 Preview

Photo Credit: Andrew Coppley/CIA Photo

Posted by: Candice Corrigan, follow @candicecorrigan

August 4, 2012

Date: Sunday, August 5, 2012

Location: Pocono Raceway—Long Pond, Pa.

Time: 1 p.m. ET

Distance:  160 laps/400 miles

Broadcast: TV- ESPN with coverage beginning at noon ET

Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN) or Sirius XM Channel 90

The picture explains it all – this weekend, NASCAR heads to a track that has virtually no fourth turn. The 2.5 mile tri-oval is never far removed from driver’s minds because of its unique layout but also because the Sprint Cup Series’ last race at the “tricky triangle” was just two months ago. Six races have passed since Joey Logano’s win here and just six remain until the field is set at Richmond for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Logano’s one win will not likely secure him a place in the Chase. He and Ryan Newman both have one this season, but need another to contend for one of the “Wild Card” spots in the 12-spot Chase lineup. Earlier this week, Logano acknowledged that he needs another win and talked about the current points situation.

“You look at how close the points are from 17 to 12, 11, it’s very close back there with all of those guys with one win,” Logano said. “Yes, points are super close and it’s going to come down to probably the last lap at Richmond.”

With his win in June from the pole, Logano became the youngest Sprint Cup Series driver to win at the track. He is the only driver to have won from the pole so far this season.

Logano’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch is currently in charge of one of the two “Wild Card” spots but does not bring the same enthusiasm to Pocono as Logano. Busch’s 30th place finish here in June did not help him improve his average finish of 18.3 at Pocono, making it his fifth-worst track. The other Joe Gibbs Racing driver, Denny Hamlin, has the highest driver rating at Pocono with four wins and an average finish of 9.3. He and Jimmie Johnson are the only two active drivers to average a top-10 at Pocono.

Veteran Mark Martin has the most top-five and top-10 finishes at Pocono, but has never won here. He finished second in June to Logano but will take another shot at a win this weekend.

Prior to the Pocono 400 in June, NASCAR made changes to the timing and scoring lines on pit road due to the track repave. Drivers struggled in using the lines to their advantage, resulting in 22 pit-road speeding penalties.

Drivers will likely be more careful on pit road this time around but still hesitant when getting around on the only once-visited surface.

The championship lead is in Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s hands but Matt Kenseth came out on top the last time NASCAR left Pocono. Will we see another shake-up in the points this week or will Junior Nation continue to dominant the airwaves?