Drivers' opinions of track surface mixed after opening practice RELATED: Stewart says 'driver error' led to wreck " Complete lineup for Pocono 400 LONG POND, Pa. -- NASCAR drivers were greeted Friday by a challenging new wrinkle to an already treacherous turn at Pocono Raceway . A wrinkle, a bump -- or even a motorcycle jump, depending on whom you ask. The 2.5-mile speedway's second corner -- otherwise known as the "tunnel turn" for the location of the track's infield entry lanes -- provided rough terrain during opening Sprint Cup Series practice, spawning mixed reviews from drivers and a promise from track president Brandon Igdalsky to find a remedy before the circuit returns Aug. 2. Barring an unforeseen development, a fix won't happen before this Sunday's Axalta "We Paint Winners" 400 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM), which could produce interesting competition in the 14th of 36 races this season. "I've still got a headache," former Pocono winner Joey Logano said. "Apparently, winter was really harsh here or something. It's unbelievable. I figure (extreme sports and motocross star) Travis Pastrana would be really good here with the jump in the tunnel turn. It's brutal. It's a big, big jump." The triangular facility was last repaved ahead of the 2012 season, relatively recently in terms of track surface age. But Igdalsky said the trouble with asphalt settling in Turn 2 was accelerated by severe cold and snowfall the past two winters, and the fact that far less dirt is packed between the infield tunnel and the track's asphalt. "Those bumps have been there since we did the repave," Igdalsky told reporters Friday afternoon. "The first year, they weren't there. The second year, they were there. Last year, they were a little bigger. It's just been gradual, and the winter this year -- these guys will tell you, living in Pennsylvania, the roads this year just got disintegrated. Everything just got beat up so bad because it was so cold. And it's basically two back-to-back years of awful winters, and they're taking their toll. "A road is not any different than a race track at the end of the day. When the ground gets frozen, it does bad, bad things." Igdalsky said the issue had nothing to do with a new decorative rock wall and waterfall added at the tunnel entrance in an offseason beautification project. But Kurt Busch , Friday's Coors Light Pole Award winner, hinted that the notion might have some merit. "For some reason the top side of the entry way was compromised," Busch said. "There are literally speed bumps the size that you would put in grocery store parking lots up on top of the track. Where did they come from? They had to have come from the underside where they were creating a beautiful fancy entryway. It is what it is. The sooner you get over it the better you are going to be." Because NASCAR returns to Pocono for opening-day practice July 31, the turnaround time for a track renovation project is tight but doable, Igdalsky said. After the visit by the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series, Indy cars race here three weeks later. "We're going to try to get something done before the next race," Igdalsky said. "If it's as bad for these guys, it's going to be worse for the Indy cars. So we've got to look at them, too. Those races being so close, we're not going to have time between those two races to get it done. We have a really busy track schedule. We've got cars out there just about every day, so it's just a matter of finding enough days to do something, get the track cleared, do something and then make it work." The court of garage opinion seemed split on the tunnel turn's transformation. Reigning Sprint Cup champ Kevin Harvick was among those in favor, tweeting, "Love the character of Turn 2. Makes you really have to change your car up!" Then again, Harvick may have had extra reasons for saying so after finishing opening practice atop the leaderboard. Tony Stewart spun exiting Turn 2, but blamed his crash into the inside wall's water barrels on driver error instead of bumps. Dale Earnhardt Jr . wasn't far behind Harvick in fourth place in opening practice, but his review initially was less favorable. Even then, Earnhardt said he felt Igdalsky and the Pocono track management had a handle on the situation. "I think everything is going to work out," Earnhardt said. "I would be worried had they not been aware of it and not had any interest in fixing it. Brandon does a great job with this place. I've gotten to know him really well over the last couple of years. He listens to the drivers, the series officials and really takes what everybody has to say to heart. He just wants to have a good facility people enjoy coming to whether you are a driver or a fan or what have you. "I'm happy that they are going to tune on it. Whatever they do, anything to improve it. I just think over time another hard winter and it is just going to be a little bit too much." Among those surprised by the abrupt development in the track surface was Earnhardt's Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jeff Gordon , who offered hope that the coarse nature of Turn 2 might produce an intriguing 400 -miler here Sunday. "It's extremely rough," Gordon said. "It's going to make it an interesting race, for sure. It seems like at speed, you can get through there and get over pretty good. It gets your attention, but if you were inside of a car or something like that, it's really going to get your attention. We'll maybe see what we can do to address that when we leave here if there is something that can be done because it did catch a lot of us by surprise. But I don't know. It might make for a great race and add some unique challenge that we weren't expecting." WATCH: Denny Hamlin spin ends Cup qualifying early FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
A stats-based look ahead to the 14th race of the Sprint Cup Series season DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 1, 2015) – Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Pocono Raceway in Pocono , Pennsylvania going into the Axalta 'We Paint Winners' 400 on June 7. POCONO -SPECIFIC STATISTICS Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · Two wins, 11 top fives, 15 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 14.7 · Average Running Position of 10.2, second-best · Driver Rating of 105.9, third-best · 332 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.733 mph, second-fastest · 2,659 Laps in the Top 15 (77.0%), fourth-most · 774 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), seventh-most Dale Earnhardt Jr . (No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet) · Two wins, nine top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.3 · Average Running Position of 14.0, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 92.6, ninth-best · 102 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.237 mph, eighth-fastest · 2,286 Laps in the Top 15 (63.3%), eighth-most · 727 Quality Passes, 10th-most Carl Edwards (No. 19 ARRIS Toyota) · Two wins, five top fives, eight top 10s · Average finish of 15.5 · Driver Rating of 94.2, eighth-best · 176 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.224 mph, ninth-fastest · 2,262 Laps in the Top 15 (62.6%), 10th-most · 712 Quality Passes, 11th-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 AXALTA – PENN STATE Chevrolet) · Six wins, 19 top fives, 31 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 9.9 · Series-best Average Running Position of 9.9 · Driver Rating of 103.5, fourth-best · 169 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most · 1,573 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.625 mph, fifth-fastest · Series-high 2,777 Laps in the Top 15 (76.9%) · Series-high 885 Quality Passes Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota) · Four wins, nine top fives, 12 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 11.9 · Average Running Position of 10.8, fourth-best · Series-best Driver Rating of 108.3 · Series-high 437 Fastest Laps Run · Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 162.806 mph · 2,543 Laps in the Top 15 (79.3%), sixth-most · 685 Quality Passes, 12th-most Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser / Jimmy John’s Chevrolet) · Six top fives, 10 top 10s · Average finish of 13.6 · Average Running Position of 13.7, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 91.9, 11th-best · 1,777 Green Flag Passes, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.159 mph, 10th-fastest · 2,277 Laps in the Top 15 (63.0%), ninth-most · 789 Quality Passes, sixth-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's / Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet) · Three wins, 10 top fives, 17 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 9.9 · Average Running Position of 10.5, third-best · Driver Rating of 106.9, second-best · 273 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · 1,507 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.708 mph, third-fastest · 2,774 Laps in the Top 15 (76.8%), second-most · 861 Quality Passes, fourth-most Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet) · Two wins, five top fives, eight top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 17.8 · Driver Rating of 92.1, 10th-best · 306 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · 1,643 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.436 mph, sixth-fastest · 2,199 Laps in the Top 15 (60.9%), 11th-most · 804 Quality Passes, fifth-most Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford) · One win, three top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 13.4 · Driver Rating of 90.8, 12th-best · 96 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most Kyle Larson (No. 42 Target Chevrolet) · One top five, one top 10; one pole · Average finish of 8.0 · Average Running Position of 12.7, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 95.7, sixth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.690 mph, fourth-fastest Ryan Newman (No. 31 Grainger Chevrolet) · One win, nine top fives, 14 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 11.4 · Average Running Position of 11.4, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 95.4, seventh-best · 1,634 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.135 mph, 11th-fastest · 2,689 Laps in the Top 15 (74.4%), third-most · 883 Quality Passes, second-most Tony Stewart (No. 14 Mobil 1 / Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) · Two wins, 12 top fives, 22 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 11.8 · Average Running Position of 12.2, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 97.6, fifth-best · 99 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most · 1,728 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.319 mph, seventh-fastest · 2,619 Laps in the Top 15 (72.5%), fifth-most · 880 Quality Passes, third-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 16 at Pocono Raceway Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 28 0 0 6 10 2 13.6 91.9 2 Martin Truex Jr . 18 0 0 2 6 0 15.9 80.4 3 Jimmie Johnson 26 3 3 10 17 1 9.9 106.9 4 Joey Logano 12 2 1 2 4 1 16.6 88.9 5 Dale Earnhardt Jr . 30 1 2 9 13 1 15.3 92.6 6 Brad Keselowski 10 0 1 3 4 0 13.4 90.8 7 Jamie McMurray 24 1 0 0 6 3 19.8 73.1 8 Kasey Kahne 22 2 2 5 8 3 17.8 92.1 9 Jeff Gordon 44 2 6 19 31 5 9.9 103.5 10 Aric Almirola 6 0 0 0 0 1 24.0 67.6 11 Matt Kenseth 30 0 0 3 10 1 16.0 86.7 12 Paul Menard 16 0 0 0 2 1 23.1 64.6 13 Ryan Newman 26 2 1 9 14 2 11.4 95.4 14 Denny Hamlin 18 3 4 9 12 2 11.9 108.3 15 Kurt Busch 27 1 2 11 15 5 14.7 105.9 16 Carl Edwards 20 0 2 5 8 1 15.5 94.2 * – Based on last 20 races at Pocono Raceway . Pocono Raceway Data Season Race #: 14 of 36 (06-07-15) Track Size : 2.5-miles Banking/Turn 1 : 14 degrees Banking/Turn 2 : 8 degrees Banking/Turn 3 : 6 degrees Frontstretch Length : 3,740 feet Backstretch Length : 3,055 feet Shortstretch Length : 1,780 feet Race Length : 160 laps / 400 miles Top 10 Driver Ratings at Pocono Denny Hamlin ............................ 108.3 Jimmie Johnson ........................ 106.9 Kurt Busch ................................ 105.9 Jeff Gordon .............................. 103.5 Tony Stewart ............................... 97.6 Kyle Larson ................................ 95.7 Ryan Newman ............................. 95.4 Carl Edwards .............................. 94.2 Dale Earnhardt Jr ........................ 92.6 Kasey Kahne .............................. 92.1 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (20 total) among active drivers at Pocono Raceway . Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Denny Hamlin , Toyota 181.415 mph, 49.610 secs., 06-06-14 2014 race winner : Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Chevrolet 139.440 mph, (02:52:07), 06-08-14 Track qualifying record: Kyle Larson , Chevrolet 183.438 mph, 49.610 secs., 08-03-14 Track race record: Jeff Gordon , Chevrolet 145.384 mph, (03:26:21), 06-12-11 At Pocono Raceway : History · Opened in 1968 as a three-quarter-mile track, Pocono Raceway held the first race on the 2.5-mile track in 1971. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was in 1974 – won by Richard Petty , Dodge, 115.593 mph, 08/04/1974. · The 2.5-mile track was repaved during the fall of 2011. Notebook · There have been 74 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Pocono Raceway , one race from 1974 through 1981, and two per year since. · 2012 marked the first season the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono were scheduled for 400 miles. Prior to 2012 all NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races were 500 miles at Pocono Raceway . · 322 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway ; 229 in more than one. · Ricky Rudd leads the series in starts at Pocono with 55. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 44 starts. · Buddy Baker won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Pocono in 1974 with a speed of 144.122 mph. · 40 drivers have posted Coors Light poles at Pocono , led by Bill Elliott and Ken Schrader with five each; Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin lead all active drivers with three each. · Five drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Pocono . Bill Elliott holds the record for most consecutive poles at Pocono with three; fall 1984 and both races in 1985. · Two active drivers have posted consecutive Coors Light poles at Pocono : Denny Hamlin (2006 sweep) and Joey Logano (fall 2011 and spring 2012). · Youngest Pocono pole winner: Joey Logano (08/07/2011 – 21 years, 2 months, 14 days). · Oldest Pocono pole winner: David Pearson (06/10/1984 – 49 years, 5 months, 19 days). · 32 different drivers have won at Pocono Raceway , led by Jeff Gordon with six wins. · Seven drivers have posted consecutive wins at Pocono Raceway , including three consecutive by Bobby Allison (1982 sweep and spring 1983) and Tim Richmond (1986 sweep and spring 1987). · Three of the seven drivers to win consecutive races at Pocono are active: Jimmie Johnson (2004 sweep); Denny Hamlin (2006 sweep and 2009 fall and 2010 spring races); Dale Earnhardt Jr . (2014 sweep). · Youngest Pocono winner: Joey Logano (06/10/2012 – 22 years, 0 months, 17 days). · Oldest Pocono winner: Harry Gant (06/17/1990 – 50 years, 5 months, 7 days). · Hendrick Motorsports has the most wins at Pocono in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 17: Jeff Gordon (six), Tim Richmond (three), Jimmie Johnson (three), Dale Earnhardt Jr . (two), Kasey Kahne (one), Geoff Bodine (one) and Terry Labonte (one) – including the last four consecutively. · Eight different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Pocono ; led by Chevrolet with 30 victories; followed by Ford with 21 and Toyota has three. · 15 of the 74 (20.2%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Jimmie Johnson (June, 2013). · The Coors Light pole position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (15) than any other starting position at Pocono Raceway . · 24 of the 74 (32.4%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono have been won from the front row: 15 from the pole and nine from second-place. · 52 of the 74 (70.2%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Pocono have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Five of the 73 (6.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Pocono is 29th, by Carl Edwards in the spring of 2005. · Mark Martin leads the series in runner-up finishes at Pocono with seven; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with six. · Mark Martin leads the series in top-five finishes at Pocono with 20; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 19. · Mark Martin leads the series in top-10 finishes at Pocono with 34; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 31. · Denny Hamlin leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Pocono with a 6.556. · Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Pocono with a 9.864. · Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards are the only two active drivers to win at Pocono in their first appearances. · Matt Kenseth leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Pocono without visiting Victory Lane at 30; followed by Kevin Harvick with 28. · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Pocono Raceway was the July 23, 2000 race won by Rusty Wallace over Jeff Burton with a MOV of 0.126 second. · There have been three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races resulting with a green-white-checkered finish at Pocono Raceway (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): spring of 2005 (200/201); fall of 2005 (200/203); spring of 2010 (200/204). · Six of the 74 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono Raceway have been shortened due to weather conditions; the most recent was the event on 8/5/2012. · Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Pocono Raceway five times; most recently the spring of 2013. · Kyle Larson (8/03/2014) and Casey Mears (8/1/2004) posted their first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at Pocono Raceway . · One active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver has posted his first career win at Pocono Raceway : Denny Hamlin (06/11/06). · Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Pocono with 1,037 laps led in 44 starts. · Two female drivers have competed at Pocono Raceway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Janet Guthrie and Danica Patrick . Patrick’s average finish in four starts at Pocono is 32.750. Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Date Danica Patrick 10 30 8/3/2014 Danica Patrick 16 37 6/8/2014 Danica Patrick 34 35 8/4/2013 Danica Patrick 30 29 6/9/2013 Janet Guthrie 21 28 7/27/1980 Janet Guthrie 22 31 7/30/1978 Janet Guthrie 10 11 7/31/1977 NASCAR in Pennsylvania · There have been 108 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races among nine tracks in Pennsylvania. Track Name City NSCS Pocono Raceway Long Pond 74 Langhorne Speedway Langhorne 17 Lincoln Speedway New Oxford 7 Heidelberg Raceway Pittsburgh 4 Reading Fairgrounds Reading 2 Bloomsburg Fairgrounds Bloomsburg 1 New Bradford Speedway Bradford 1 Pine Grove Speedway Shippenville 1 Williams Grove Speedway Mechanicsburg 1 · 141 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Pennsylvania. · Three of the 141 have won in NASCAR’s premiere series. Driver NSCS NNS NCWTS Dick Linder 3 0 0 Jimmy Spencer 2 12 1 Mark Donohue 1 0 0 MILESTONES – Pocono Raceway DRIVER HAS NEEDS MILESTONE Jeff Gordon 774 1 775th Consecutive NSCS Start - Gordon is first on the
Catch up quickly before Sunday's running of the Pocono 400
Go behind the scenes for an inside look at the best action form Sunday's Pocono 400 .
A statistical lookahead to the first of two Sprint Cup Series' stops at Pocono
Matthew Dillner takes you inside the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Garage before the Pocono 400 at the Tricky Triangle, otherwise known as Pocono Raceway.
Kurt Busch will join Hamlin on the front row for the Pocono 400
Drivers debate temptation of new Turn 2 apron before Pocono 400
Earnhardt looks to join select few, will line up 20th on Sunday LONG POND, Pa. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr . is looking to join some rare company in Sunday's Axalta 'We Paint Winners' 400 at Pocono Raceway (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM). Fresh of a 2014 sweep of both NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at the Tricky Triangle, Earnhardt is looking to become the third driver to win three in a row at 2.5-mile Pennsylvania track. Bobby Allison and Tim Richmond are the other two to accomplish that with the latter's being the most recent occurrence in 1987. However, the Hendrick Motorsports driver will be starting 20th in his bid to win three straight at Pocono and he explained what led to his worst starting spot since Richmond. "I chopped the entrance to (Turn) 1 on the first lap and that cost us a little bit of time. And then the next run we went into Turn 1 and turned sideways and got loose and just kind of killed the lap. So, we had pretty good speed in practice and just didn't … the driver didn’t do a good job." That qualifying performance led Junior to help his No. 88 team push the car back to the garage. Here @DaleJr helps the @nationwide88 team push the car, saying "It's the least I can do after qualifying 20th." pic.twitter.com/BcFfDohG8X — Mike Davis (@MikeDavis88) June 5, 2015 Earnhardt showed speed in Friday's opening practice, placing fourth in the 85-minute session (176.564 mph). In the second practice, Earnhardt was second on the speed chart (175.596 mph) in the 55-minute session. Still, he understands the difficulty in winning one race at Pocono let alone three straight win. "It's just difficult to win one, you know?" Earnhardt said Friday at Pocono . "It’s difficult to win, period. And there’s so much competition in this series now." Junior will be looking to do something Allison and Richmond did not have to do in their run of three straight victories. He will try and join their club by winning with two different crew chiefs. Greg Ives is on top of the box this season as Steve Letarte, his crew chief for the sweep last year, left to be part of NBC's NASCAR coverage after last season. "Well we won those two races by having some great pit strategy," Earnhardt said on Friday at Pocono . "Steve (Letarte) got real aggressive on his pit calls and I think that is definitely going to be what is going to put you in position to win. You kind of call this race in reverse. "The tire is pretty tough here and durable. There is not a whole lot of fall off. You can call the race sort of like a road course in reverse and put yourself up toward the front like we did last year. It makes it pretty difficult to get around you if you have a good car. I mean we were able to pass some guys that tried to get more aggressive than we were. Everything has kind of got to fall in the right place and allow you to make those choices." The change in crew chiefs hasn't affected Earnhardt's performance this season. Entering Pocono , Earnhardt is fifth in the point standings and scored a win last month at Talladega Superspeedway , his 24th victory in the Sprint Cup Series. He has top-five finishes at all intermediate and restrictor-plate tracks this season (seven in total). Earnhardt is looking to keep the good vibes and good times going with Ives, who worked as a crew chief for two years for Earnhardt's NASCAR XFINITY Series organization, JR Motorsports. "He takes this super, super serious. This is his dream come true to be able to crew chief in the Cup Series, and I want to give him every opportunity to be successful and us as a team, we’re in a good position winning races, running well; we don’t want to take a step back." Hendrick Motorsports has had stretches of dominance at Pocono . The organization's four drivers have won the last five races, Jeff Gordon has the most wins here (six) and Jimmie Johnson swept the 2004 events here. In total, the organization has 17 wins at the Tricky Triangle. Johnson says its hard to win here regularly, making a sweep all that more of an accomplishment. Something only seven drivers, including Junior and Johnson have done. "I kind of put sweeping here in the same box as sweeping at Daytona or Talladega," Johnson said. "There are just so many circumstances out of your control at this track. And those lead to the difficulty in winning often and sweeping, for that matter. "This race, there are always long green-flag runs and varying strategies. The teams that don't have the raw speed to race for the win roll the dice and usually catch cautions and lose track position. Track position is so important. There are a lot of moving targets. It's not just a straight-up downforce-style race. And I think that increases the difficulty to win here regularly." With the success that the four-car stable has had here, Earnhardt's recent run of success here makes him the prohibitive favorite this weekend. In addition to last year's sweep, he posted two top-five finishes in the 2013 races at Pocono and has scored top-10 finishes in seven of his last eight starts there. So what contributes to that dominance for Junior and Hendrick as a whole? "Well, we've got four fast cars," Earnhardt said. "This is a horsepower race track where engines can make a difference. I feel like over the last several years we’ve had one of the best engine programs in the sport. So, I think we’ve just got really good stuff. "Your car really, really shines here; whereas the driver is a little bit of the factor or a lot of the factor, especially on restarts and trying to work that difficult air when you’re behind somebody and make a pass and set it up on a particular part of the race track where it will happen. But the car really shines here and we’ve got some of the best equipment in the garage." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Catch up before the Axalta 'We Paint Winners' 400 , 1 p.m. ET (FOX Sports 1) What: 34th annual Axalta 'We Paint Winners' 400 Where: Pocono Raceway , Long Pond, Pa. When: Sunday, June 7, 2015 TV/Radio: FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Distance: 160 laps ( 400 miles) Green Flag: 1:18.30 p.m. ET Pit Road Speed: 55 mph Caution Car Speed: 70 mph Fuel Window: 32 laps On The Front Row ( Full lineup ) 1. Kurt Busch , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet (177.599 mph) 2. Carl Edwards , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota (177.550 mph) To the rear Tony Stewart , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolet (engine change) Joey Logano , Team Penske No. 22 Ford (rear gear change) Failed to Qualify None Fastest in Practice ( Full practice results ) First Practice: Kevin Harvick , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet (176.932 mph) Second Practice: Kevin Harvick , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet (175.658 mph) Third Practice: Kevin Harvick , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet (175.974 mph) Triple Play Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s season sweep at Pocono Raceway last year sets him up for a chance at a place in the track's history books. Should he secure the checkered flag in Sunday's 400 -miler, he'd join NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison and the late Tim Richmond as the only drivers to win three straight at the Tricky Triangle Hendrick's streak, too Earnhardt's modest run of two wins in a row is part of a larger Pocono streak for his Hendrick Motorsports team. Jeff Gordon started the string with a victory here in August 2012, followed by wins in 2013 by teammates Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne -- all before Earnhardt's two-race tear. Bumpy issue The gradual development of bumps in Turn 2 -- also known as the "tunnel turn" over the infield entrance -- has added a new dimension for Sunday's race. Some drivers have turned critical, but front-row starter Carl Edwards is a fan. "To me, if they could just go ahead and take some bumps like that and put them over in the other corners, too, it would be even better," Edwards said. "It adds something. As long as it's not breaking parts, I believe it gives us an opportunity to set up passes. We'll see how it goes in the race, but it could be one of those things where you might have an opportunity to take advantage of a guy's trouble that he has through there." Mixed fortunes for Harvick Defending Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick swept to the top of the leaderboard in all three practices Friday and Saturday, and he landed the fifth starting position in Coors Light Pole Qualifying. His speed wasn't rewarded in the selection of pit stalls, as his Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet team picked last in the 43-car field as a result of a P1 penalty assessed this week. Harvick will pit Sunday in unlucky stall No. 13. History lesson Pocono Raceway opened in 1968 as a .75-mile track, expanded to its current 2.5-mile layout in 1971. The triangular speedway began hosting NASCAR's top division in 1974, when Richard Petty edged Buddy Baker to become the first winner. Sunday's race will be the 75th event for NASCAR's premier series. Driver Rating Best driver rating average at Pocono based on past 20 races: 1. Denny Hamlin , 108.3 2. Jimmie Johnson , 106.9 3. Kurt Busch , 105.9 Defending race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet Former Pocono winners in the field Jeff Gordon (6); Denny Hamlin (4); Jimmie Johnson (3); Tony Stewart , Kurt Busch , Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Kasey Kahne , Carl Edwards (2); Ryan Newman , Joey Logano , Brad Keselowski , Greg Biffle (1). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule