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NASCAR Sprint Cup Axalta 400 At Pocono Betting Preview
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Pocono Raceway's 2.5 mile “tricky” triangle for the 14th race of the season, the Axalta 400, on Sunday afternoon. Pocono Raceway is a 2.5 mile tri-oval with three completely different banked turns. It has 14 degree banking in turn one, eight degree banking in turn two, and six degree banking in turn three.
Need To Know
Pocono has three long straight-aways after each of the progressively less banked turns. With this year’s new car configuration the drivers haven’t needed to slow down as much entering corners and will be challenged to handle all the speed they will exit the turns with. Passing is also a daunting task, and while crew chiefs are constantly using pit strategy to gain track position, drivers try to gain as many spots as possible during restarts, which often border on total chaos.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. swept both races there a year ago. He had been winless in his first 28 Pocono starts.
“It seems like guys that run well at Pocono can sustain it," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I've seen guys sweep there and we were able to do it last year. I like the track, and we have run well there since the repave. I anticipate us being competitive again and hopefully getting three in a row.”
Kevin Harvick is the favorite, but should he be?
“Pocono is one of those places where I haven’t had a ton of success," he said in a team press release. "I think right before they repaved it is when I started to figure the old Pocono out and we were starting to run better. Probably the best memory I have there is winning a Truck (Series) race, so that’s about the extent of it for me.”
Kevin Harvick (9/2): Harvick finished as the runner-up at Dover last week to Jimmie Johnson for the fourth time this year and seventh time since the start of the 2014 season. It was also his seventh runner-up finish of 2015. Harvick's 13.6 average finish at Pocono is the second-highest among drivers who have not yet won at the Tricky Triangle. Amazingly, he has led just 10 laps there in his 28 starts. Still, the man lives up to his nickname by being the best closer in the loop data at Pocono, gaining 56 spots over the final 10 percent of the race in that stretch.
Jimmie Johnson (5/1): He may have only led 23 laps at Dover, but they were the last 23 and good enough to get Johnson his 10th career win at the Monster Mile. Pocono could produce more of the same as "Six-Time" has the third-best average finish among active drivers (9.9), and he is the second-fastest driver late in a run there (161.749 mph). He has also led the second-most laps among active drivers (738). How's this for reliability? Johnson has finished outside the top 15 just twice at Pocono in his 26 starts.
Kurt Busch (8/1): : Busch got swallowed up in Denny Hamlin's late wreck suffering significant damage to a car that ran in the top 10 most of the day. Pocono will provide Busch with a chance to get back in Victory Lane this year as it is statistically his fifth-best track (14.7 average finish). He has four top-three finishes in his last seven races at Pocono, and in the loop data era, Busch has led the second-most laps (489).
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (8/1): Dale Jr.'s streak of three straight top-three finishes came to an end at Dover. He rallied well, though, after having to start at back of the field, but a pit road penalty hurt his shot at a win. He will look to join Bobby Allison and Tim Richmond as the only drivers to win three straight at the Tricky Triangle.
Denny Hamlin (10/1): Late contact with Clint Bowyer took the Dover polesitter out of contention, but be on the lookout for Hamlin at Pocono. Four of his 25 Cup wins have come there, and his 6.6 average start is the best among active drivers. The Virginia native is also a loop data darling at the Tricky Triangle as he is the fastest driver late in a run (161.818 mph), second-fastest on restarts (159.343 mph) and has led the most laps in the past 20 races there (667).
Number of previous races: 74.
First Sprint Cup race: August 4, 1974, won by Richard Petty.
Last Sprint Cup race: August 3, 2014, won by Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Won from pole: 15, last time by Jimmie Johnson in 2013.
Won from top-5 starting position: 44 times in 74 races (59%).
Won from top-10 starting position: 52 times (70%).
Won from 21st or worse starting position: 5 times (7%).
Worst starting spot for race winner: 29th, by Carl Edwards in 2005.
Most laps led: 175, by Kurt Busch in 2007.
Fewest laps led by a race winner: 4, by Bobby Labonte in 2001.
Fastest race: 145.384 mph by Jeff Gordon in 2011.
Fastest qualifying speed: 183.438 mph by Kyle Larson in 2014.
Most lead changes: 56 in 1979.
Closest finish: Tim Richmond's .05 second margin over Ricky Rudd in 1986.
Most caution flags: 13 in 1990 and 2005.
From 2010-2014 a typical Pocono race had 18.1 lead changes, 6.2 cautions for 25.7 laps, and an average green-flag run of 20.1 laps
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