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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Matt McLaughlin’s Driver Handicaps: 2007 Pocono Summer Race Edition

Jeff Gordon – Gordon won here in June to score his first Pocono victory since his 1998 “dream season.” It was his fourth win and 20th top-10 result at this track in just 29 starts.

Denny Hamlin – Hamlin won both races here last year as a rookie, and didn’t do too badly in June either, finishing sixth. He was visibly disappointed with that performance after the race; that should speak volumes about Hamlin’s confidence arriving at Pocono.

Matt Kenseth – Kenseth scored his seventh top-10 finish this June in 15 career starts at Pocono. A top 10 on Sunday, which seems like almost a birthright for the No. 17 team this year, would raise his batting average to .500.

Jeff Burton – Burton is also flirting with .500 at Pocono, posting 13 top-10 finishes in 27 starts. But his last top-five result here occurred way back in 2000.

Tony Stewart – Stewart won here in 2003 and scored his fourth consecutive Pocono top-10 finish here in June. Keep in mind it’s summertime, too – which means Stewart figures to be a factor.

Carl Edwards – Edwards won in his very first Cup start at Pocono and finished fourth in the subsequent July race. In the three races here since, he hasn’t fared so well, finishing 25th, 39th, and 14th.

BOWLES: FANTASY PICKS ‘N’ PANS FOR POCONO

Kevin Harvick – Harvick has never led a lap in 13 Pocono Cup starts. His average finish here is 16th, but he’s done better than that in his last five starts here in Penn.

Kyle Busch – Busch finished eighth here in June to score his second top-10 finish in five Pocono Cup starts.

Jimmie Johnson – Johnson won both races here in 2004 and had never finished worse than 15th until June. Tire problems then led to a miserable 42nd-place finish, the race that started a mid-season mini-slump for Johnson ever since.

Clint Bowyer – After the usual Pocono rookie frustrations here last year, Bowyer rebounded with a 10th-place finish two months ago.

Martin Truex Jr. – Truex followed up his groundbreaking Dover win with a third-place finish here this June.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Junior dang-near won at Pocono back in 2001, but this track hasn’t been kind to him lately. It’s been six races since Earnhardt earned his last top-10 result here.

Ryan Newman – Newman won this event in 2003 and finished second in June. Those account for two of his five top-five finishes here in 11 starts.

Kurt Busch – Busch won this race in 2005 and has four runner-up results at Pocono.

Jamie McMurray – McMurray has two top 10s but no top fives at Pocono. He’s missed the top 10 in the last four races here.

Greg Biffle – Biffle is averaging a 19th-place finish after nine Cup runs at Pocono.

Mark Martin – Strange but true; Martin has started 41 Cup races at Pocono but has never won here. He does have top-10 finishes in 68% of those races, which is admirable, and has finished second here six times.

Juan Pablo Montoya – Montoya finished 20th here in June. So much for Pocono driving like a road course, huh?

Casey Mears – Mears has struggled at Pocono, with a 21st-place average finishing position… but he did manage a credible fourth-place result here in June.

JJ Yeley – Yeley is averaging a 14th-place finish here after three Pocono starts.

Bobby Labonte – Labonte has three Cup victories at Pocono, sweeping both events in 1999 and winning this event in 2001. However, his nine top 10s here are offset by five DNFs, dragging his average finish at the track down to 17th place.

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