Upcoming Events in the World of NASCAR.Next week, the NASCAR Nextel Cup teams head to the "Tro-Val", as Darrell Waltrip affectionately refers to Pocono Raceway, for the Pocono 500. Pocono is always a challenging track that offers amazing racing. It boasts 3 straightaways, including the longest in NASCAR, with 3 sharp, road course like turns.Like the Coca-Cola 600 of 2 weeks ago, the Pocono 500 is particularly stressful on the engines and transmissions.
Drivers have to down shift going into the sharp, flat turns. Often times, drivers will use down-shifting to help brake and lose the enormous speeds they carry coming off the long straightaways. This creates more stress on the transmissions thus causing a few failures by the end of the race.Next week at the "Troval", expect Carl Edwards to continue to make his move to qualify for the Chase for the Championship. In two starts at Pocono, Carl has 2-top 5 finishes with one of those top 5's being a win.
Also expect the following drivers to do well next week:.Other drivers to note:.Jimmie Johnson - Average Finish 8th
Jeff Gordon - Average Finish 10th
Mark Martin - Average Finish 11th
Brian Vickers - Average Finish 11th.Next Week's Schedule: (all times CST).Nextel Cup: @ Pocono Raceway
6/10/06 - 11:05pm NASCAR Nextel Cup Pocono 500 Practice
6/09/06 - 01:45pm NASCAR Nextel Cup Pocono 500 Qualifying
6/11/06 - 02:10pm NASCAR Nextel Cup Pocono 500.
Busch Series: @ Nashville Superspeedway
6/10/06 - 10:30pm NASCAR Busch Series FEDERATED AUTO PARTS 300 Practice
6/10/06 - 04:05pm NASCAR Busch Series FEDERATED AUTO PARTS 300 Qualifying
6/10/06 - 07:05pm NASCAR Busch Series FEDERATED AUTO PARTS 300.Craftsman Truck Series off until 6/17 @ Michigan International Speedway.Who's Hot?.This week's Who's Hot section could be dedicated to any number of people. Those at the top did what they had to do to protect their current standings.
This includes Jimmie Johnson who made an incredible come from behind run to finish in 6th place and preserve his slot as the leader in the points race.Those fighting to get in or stay in the top 10 posted strong finishes to help their cause. Greg Biffle (finished 8th) & Carl Edwards (finished 15th) each had solid finishes to help them inch closer to the top 10. While Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton each finished in the top 5 helping to solidify their top 10 standings.
Despite all the positives that happened at Dover, no positive was bigger than Jamie McMurray's finish. All season long, McMurray's team has struggled to finish anywhere in the top 10, much less come close to winning a race. However, with two successful weeks in a row (an 8th place finish in the Coca-Cola 600 and a 2nd place finish at Dover), the #26 team has seemingly righted the ship and are sailing on the track to success.The true test for Jamie McMurray will come next week at the Pocono 500. In 6 starts at Pocono, Jamie's average finish is 20th.
He will need to finish much higher, and on a consistent level if he plans on qualifying for the Chase for the Championship!.Who's Not?.In the past two weeks, Jeff Gordon has been sliding down the points standings and flirting with the dreaded number 11th slot (Nextel Cup teams have to be in the top ten to qualify for the Chase for the Championship).
There are many teams out there who would give their "left lugnut", as Maynard from the movie 'Cars' says, to be in the 11th slot.However, if you ask Gordon or anyone else on the #24 team, and they will tell you 11th place flat out sucks. They were there last year, and never plan to return.Expect the four-time NASCAR Cup champion to start turning up the heat in these next few races. Of all the current Nextel Cup drivers, Gordon is the 3rd most successful at Pocono. His average finish in 26 races at Pocono is 10th.
For all of the Rainbow Warriors out there and for all of NASCAR, let's hope Jeff can turn his season around and qualify for the Chase!.Last Week's Headlines.The Monster Mashes that occur at Dover International Raceway twice a year offer some of the best racing on the Nextel Cup circuit. The high-banked turns and straightaways gives drivers multiple groves to race. A "grovey" race is what fans pay money to see.
They want to see cars side-by-side running different grooves trying to out-muscle each other for the win.This is exactly what happened yesterday at the Neighborhood Excellence 400. I believe I saw some of the most exciting racing of the entire season in the last 30 laps.
Jamie McMurray was out in front running the high grove. Multiple times, Kevin Harvick would pull up beside McMurray in the low-grove trying to complete a pass. No matter what he tried, Harvick just could not pass McMurray on the inside.However, along came Matt Kenseth whose car was eating the inside grove like Fat Back McSwain eats pork rinds. At last, 3 laps from the end, Kenseth passed McMurray and held on to win the race. This was truly some exciting racing that even left Darrel Waltrip quivering at the end.
Other performances to note:.Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, and Kyle Busch all helped solidify their top 10 standing in the points race by finishing in the top 5.Jimmie Johnson overcame a problematic day to finish 6th.
Jimmie's bad day started early by beginning the race in 42nd position. 33 laps into the race, Mark Martin overtook Jimmie putting him one-lap down. Later in the race, Jimmie on separate occasions spun out twice. However, in true championship form, Johnson and his Lowe's #48 team overcame the adversity and finished in the top 10.
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By: Jon Vandergrift