The Cup Series has been coming to Pocono Raceway since 1975. The track has hosted two races each year since 1982. During that 36-year history, only four drivers have qualified outside the top 20 and gone on to win. The passing conditions at Pocono are among the toughest in the series, and it has even been described as a 175-mph parade because of the single-file racing that develops. Needless to say, track position is crucial, and starting up front is the first step in winning the battle.
The trend is great news for Joe Gibbs Racing. All three JGR drivers, including pole-sitter Joey Logano, qualified in the top five for Sunday's race. Logano is still looking for his first top 10 at Pocono, but he has finished in the top 15 in his last two June races at the track. Meanwhile, his teammates have been two of the top fantasy options at Pocono in recent years. Denny Hamlin is a four-time winner at the track, and he led the most laps in both races a year ago. Kyle Busch is still looking for his first win at Pocono, but with three finishes of third or better in his last four starts, he could be in Victory Lane as early as this weekend.
Sunday's race could also be a breakout opportunity for Carl Edwards. Last year's championship runner-up has been relatively quiet in 2012 and has definitely underperformed in the eyes of fantasy owners. That being said, he qualified on the outside of the front row, and he is a two-time winner at Pocono. This could be the week he finally gets going and starts putting up the type of numbers fantasy owners have come to expect from him.
Owners looking for a dark horse option should consider Paul Menard. He followed a solid set of practices Friday with a third-place effort in qualifying Saturday. He has also been steadily improving at Pocono. Menard enters this weekend's race with three straight top-15 finishes at the track, including a career-best 10th-place run last August. Don't be surprised if he is battling for another top-10 Sunday.
About Brian Polking
Racing has been part of Brian's life ever since he can remember, and he spent his childhood at dirt tracks throughout Ohio and Kentucky watching his father race. NASCAR naturally became his favorite sport, and he has been following the Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series for most of his life. Brian majored in journalism and economics at Ohio State University and becoming a sports writer has always been his dream. Although he has covered everything from minor league baseball to the NCAA tournament, his passion has always been NASCAR. Brian has served as a NASCAR writer for a variety of sites, eventually becoming head editor of the NASCAR section for Fanball.com. His knowledge of NASCAR comes from his life-long love of racing, and he tries to add a personal touch to every article he writes. Brian is always up for talking NASCAR with anyone that wants to. Brian joined KFFL's team in 2011.
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