The Frontstretch: Matt McLaughlin's Driver Handicaps: Pocono Edition by Matt McLaughlin -- Wednesday June 6, 2007

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Matt McLaughlin's Driver Handicaps: Pocono Edition

Matt McLaughlin · Wednesday June 6, 2007


2007 Pocono “1” Driver Handicaps

Jeff Gordon – Gordon has won at Pocono three times, but his most recent victory here came way back in 1998. Still, Gordon’s overall stats at this track remain high, with Top 10 finishes in four of the last six Pocono Cup races and an average finish of eleventh here over 28 starts.

Jimmie Johnson – Johnson pulled a season sweep here in 2004, heading to Victory Lane while pretty much stinking up the show in both cases. In the last six Pocono races, Johnson hasn't finished worse than twelfth, and his career average finish at the track is eighth over ten starts.

Matt Kenseth – Kenseth has been lukewarm at Pocono, with six Top 10 finishes in fourteen career starts at this facility. He finished fifth in this race last year but, on average, this hasn't been a great track for Roush-Fenway prepared cars.

Denny Hamlin – Hamlin won both races here one year ago, starting from the pole in each one. Last year in the Spring event, he even overcame a green flag pit stop to change a deflated tire that put him at the back of the pack. I'll pick Hamlin as this weekend's favorite.

Jeff Burton – Burton has Top 10 finishes in half of his 26 starts at Pocono, but his average finish here is a ho-hum seventeenth. He finished ninth in both of the Pocono Cup races last year.

Carl Edwards – Edwards won at Pocono in his very first Cup start at the Pennsylvania Triangle. Unfortunately, every race since has yielded a worse result than the one before, a downward spiral that bottomed out with a 39th place finish last July (courtesy: Tony Stewart).

Tony Stewart – Speaking of Stewart, he won here in 2003 and has Top 10 finishes in eleven of sixteen Cup starts at Pocono. He’s currently riding a streak of three consecutive Top 10s at the track.

Clint Bowyer – Bowyer hopes for better luck the second time around at Pocono; he didn't get it done in his first two career starts here, finishing outside the Top 20 in both races.

Kevin Harvick – Harvick has struggled at Pocono, particularly early in his career, but he does have Top 10 finishes in three of the last four Cup races here.

Kyle Busch – Busch finished fourth in the first of his four Pocono Cup starts, but hasn't run worth a lick here since. I guess that's a little harsh; let’s just say Busch has run better than he finished, but they don't pay points for decent runs early.

Kurt Busch – Busch won here in 2005 (while still driving for Jack Roush) and finished second in both of last year's Pocono Cup events. He also has a total of four second place finishes at this track. You know what they say about close only counting in horseshoes…

Editor’s Note: As this is written, rumors continue to circulate that Busch may be suspended for this weekend's event for his pit road incident in Dover on Monday. NASCAR has not yet announced any penalties, and plan to hold off on making any sort of final decision until after Bill France, Jr.‘s funeral on Thursday.

Mark Martin – Strange but true: Martin has run 40 Cup races at Pocono but has never won here. He’s come close a lot, though, with five second place finishes and 27 Top 10 results throughout his career.

Martin Truex, Jr. – Truex finished 24th in this race last year but rebounded with a tenth place result in last July's Pocono race.

Jamie McMurray – McMurray's average finish here in eight Cup races is twentieth. If he’s going to improve on that, Roush-Fenway’s pretty boy is going to have to work on picking up the pace. Of course, at Pocono “getting a bunny” can often be done literally.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.- Junior has had four good races at Pocono, including a spectacular run here in 2001 when he almost held off a hard charging Bobby Labonte for the win. But other than that, the rest of Earnhardt's starts here have been less than stellar. He's finished 25th or worse in four of the last five Pocono races, including placing dead last here last July.

Ryan Newman – Newman won a Cup race here in 2003 as well as an ARCA race here in 2000, making him a strong contender for Sunday. The ARCA win was not without controversy, however; Newman wrecked the leader in the tunnel turn to take the win late in the race, and Roger Penske had to buy that fellow a new car as a result.

Bobby Labonte – Labonte won both races here in 1999 and scored another victory at Pocono in 2001. Oddly enough, he has just two other Top 5 finishes in 28 Pocono starts.

Greg Biffle - Biffle has just two Top 10 finishes in eight starts here and an average finishing position of seventeenth.

J.J. Yeley – Yeley finished fifteenth and eleventh here in his first two Pocono starts last year.

Elliott Sadler – Sadler’s recent struggles in Nextel Cup shouldn’t come to a stop at Pocono. He has two Top 10s here in sixteen starts and an average finishing position of just nineteenth.

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