Cup Corner

NASCAR Nextel Cup drivers head to Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania this weekend for the running of the Pocono 500. This 2.5 mile triangular superspeedway sports three long straightaways and three unique turns, each patterned after different tracks. Turn one has 14 degrees of banking and was inspired by the now defunct Trenton Speedway at the former state fairgrounds in Trenton, New Jersey. Turn two, also known as the ?Tunnel Turn?, has 8 degrees of banking and resembles the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Turn three is a sweeping 6 degree turn comparable to the Milwaukee Mile in Wisconsin. As a cross between a road course and an oval, it?s often referred to as a roval.

Pocono Top Ten
1. #11 Denny Hamlin
2. #48 Jimmie Johnson
3. #24 Jeff Gordon
4. #83 Brian Vickers
5. #99 Carl Edwards
6. #17 Matt Kenseth
7. #01 Mark Martin
8. #20 Tony Stewart
9. # 2 Kurt Busch
10. #12 Ryan Newman

With limited practice time and a few hours on a simulated NASCAR video game, Hamlin won the Bud Pole and the Pocono 500 in his first visit to the track. For an encore, he followed that up with a second Pocono win last summer. ?I think it was just that I was blessed with a great car as soon as we unloaded,? Hamlin said of his first career NASCAR Cup Series points win. ?Ever since then it?s just been a place I?ve felt really comfortable running. It took about two laps before I realized, the first time I was there, that it was a race track that I really loved and that we were going to run well there.?

Brian Vickers may be one to watch this weekend, after finishing fourth in both Pocono races last summer and owning an average finish of 8.5 in six career starts. Vickers is now with a different team and coming off solid finishes in his last two Cup races at Lowe?s and Dover. Vickers had this to say, ?Pocono is known for being an odd-shaped race track because it?s shaped like a triangle. You can?t even say it?s similar to any other track we race on because it?s just so unique. It?s a difficult track to find a balance that works well for all three turns. I like the challenge though, and I?ve always seemed to race well at Pocono. I?ve led a lot of laps there and have come close to winning, but haven?t quite got the win there yet. Maybe this will be our weekend.?

Also not to be taken lightly is Kurt Busch. Busch won the July 2005 race at Pocono and finished a strong runner-up in both races there last season. ?I wish it was a second in 2005 and two wins for Roger and our Miller Lite Dodge there last season,? said Busch. ?Out of all 43 cars there last year, we were second-best to that 11 car (Hamlin) in both races. We?re coming back to Pocono this year looking to have the car that everyone else is chasing.?

Pocono Active Streaks

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