Weren’t we just Pocono? As a matter of fact, yes, yes we were. Just 8 weeks after the first stop of the season at the Tricky Triangle, NASCAR is back for more.
"I learned a lot in June that I think we can apply to the August race,” said rookie Austin Dillon. “We're building a notebook we can apply to the second half of the season. All of our Richard Childress Racing cars are getting better each and every week, it's a work in progress."
There was a time when was though rookies and young drivers, couldn’t really do well at Pocono. But Denny Hamlin sweeping both races his rookie season changed that mentality. But Hamlin says the track has changed so much since then, drivers have once again had to change the way the attack the track.
"The race track is just so different, you might as well just rename the race track -- it's just not the same as it used to be,” said Hamlin.” Really the setups are completely different, the way you drive it, the technique is similar, it's just you use so much more throttle than you used to."
Hamlin, who has won at Pocono four times, will be without his crew chief Darrian Grubb this week and for the next five as a result of violations at Indianapolis.
Other drivers who have found success at Pocono include Jeff Gordon (6 wins), Tony Stewart (2 wins), Carl Edwards (2 wins), Jimmie Johnson (2 wins) Kasey Kahne (2 wins), Dale Earnhardt, Jr (1 win), Joey Logano (1 win), Brad Keselowski (1 win), Greg Biffle (1 win), Kurt Busch (1 win) and Ryan Newman (1 win).
“I expect it to be even better to race on the second time around because it should have held and retained some of the rubber we pushed down in the asphalt back in June,” said Newman. “Plus, I think we learned a lot from Indy this past weekend that should help us for this weekend's race. Based on how we ran in June and what we did this past Sunday, we should have a shot at contending for the win this weekend."
Rookie Kyle Larson will lead the field to green at about 12:05 central time. Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Bush and Jeff Gordon make up the rest of the top five. Kansas native Clint Bowyer starts 14th.