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Garrow: Pocono notes and trends

7/29/2008

Background

• This is the 21st race of 36 for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2008.

• This is the seventh of 11 superspeedway (two-plus mile) track races this season.

• This is the 62nd time the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has competed at Pocono since 1974.

• Pocono is a 2.5-mile triangular-shaped track and with 14-degree banking in Turn 1, eight degrees in Turn 2 and six degrees in Turn 3.

• 44 drivers are on the pre-entry list to compete for one of the 43 starting slots in Sunday's 200-lap, 500-mile race. Of those 44 entrants, nine must get into Saturday's field based on qualifying times. They are: J.J. Yeley, Chad McCumbee, Tony Raines, Bill Elliott, Terry Labonte, Michael McDowell, AJ Allmendinger, and Joe Nemechek. (At this time, the driver of the No. 34 is TBA).

• Of the go-or-go-home drivers, Terry Labonte and Bill Elliott are eligible for a champions' provisional. Labonte, being the most recent champion (1996), would edge out Elliott if both needed the spot.

• The following teams are on the bubble for a spot in the top-35 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points.

32) Michael Waltrip/Waltrip Racing: 1,597 +115
33) Regan Smith/DEI: 1,572, +90
34) Sam Hornish/Penske Racing: 1,522 +40
35) Scott Riggs/Haas CNC Racing: 1,496 14 points ahead of 36th

These teams/ drivers must qualify by speed but are close to the top-35:

36) Michael McDowell/Waltrip Racing: 1,482 14 points out of 35th
37) A.J. Allmendinger/Red Bull Racing: 1,433 -63
38) J.J. Yeley/Hall of Fame Racing: 1,335 -161

• Tony Raines is driving the No. 70 car for CNC/Haas Racing. This car as not had a regular driver since Jeremy Mayfield was released prior to Phoenix.

• Chad McCumbee is driving the No. 45 Dodge for Petty Enterprises this weekend, filling in for Kyle Petty. Terry Labonte is driving the #10 for Gillette-Evernham Motorsports, filling in for Patrick Carpentier who is racing the NASCAR Nationwide Series race in Montreal this weekend.

Mark Martin has six runner-ups at Pocono without a win, tying Tony Stewart's record at Talladega for most runner-ups by an active driver without a win. Martin also has the most top-10s (30) and top-5s (19) than any active driver at Pocono.

Kurt Busch is the defending winner of this race. He has driven five events at Pocono in a Penske Racing Dodge, finishing three of them in the top-2 and finishing eighth here earlier this year.

Denny Hamlin has five starts here with no finish worse than sixth. He won both races from the pole in his rookie year of 2006 and has finished third the past two races. His average finish here is 2.8.

• For all active drivers with 10 starts or more, Jeff Gordon leads almost every category. He has the highest average finish (10.3), most laps led (870), and most top-5s (15).

• Of the active drivers with 10 starts or more guaranteed to make the race here, Robby Gordon has the worst average finish (27.1). While Bill Elliott can use a champions' provisional if Terry Labonte doesn't need it, he is technically a go-or-go-home driver. As such, of all the go-or-go-homers, he has the highest average finish here (17.0). He also leads the field with the most wins here (five).

Pocono previous winners

• There are 10 previous Pocono winners entered this weekend with 22 victories among them:

Past four races at Pocono

2008 Sprint Cup Series top-10 recap

  1. Kyle Busch (3,004) was the 15th-place finisher Sunday at the Brickyard and remains first in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings. Busch has seven starts here with two top-10s, a top-5 and an average finish of 20.0.

  2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-253) was the 12th-place finisher at Indy and maintains his second-place points position in the Cup Series standings. Earnhardt has 17 starts here with six top-10s, five top-5s and an average finish of 16.5.

  3. Jeff Burton (-271) finished ninth at Indy Sunday, holding on to his position of third in the Cup Series points standings. In 29 starts here, Burton has 14 top-10s, seven top-5s and an average finish of 16.4.

  4. Jimmie Johnson (-315) was the winner at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday and advances one place in the Cup Series standings to fourth. Johnson has 13 starts here with eight top-10s, four top-5s, two wins and an average finish of 10.3.

  5. Carl Edwards (-320) was the runner-up at Indy and falls one place in the Cup Series points to fifth. In seven starts here, Edwards has three top-10s, two top-5s, a win and an average finish of 16.1.

  6. Jeff Gordon (-460) finished fifth at the Brickyard Sunday and maintains his sixth-place position in the Cup Series points. Gordon has 31 starts here with 21 top-10s, 15 top-5s, four wins and an average finish of 10.3.

  7. Greg Biffle (-544) was the eighth-place finisher at Indy and holds on to the seventh position in the Cup Series points standings. Biffle has 11 starts here with two top-10s, a top-5 and an average finish of 18.8.

  8. Denny Hamlin (-551) finished third Sunday at Indy and moves up four places in the Cup Series standings to eighth. In five starts here, Hamlin has five top-10s, four top-5s, two wins and an average finish of 2.8.

  9. Kasey Kahne (-563) finished seventh at IMS, moving up two places to ninth in the Cup Series standings. Kahne has nine starts here with three top-10s, two top-5s, a win and an average finish of 17.7.

  10. Tony Stewart (-605) finished 23rd at the Brickyard Sunday and maintains his 10th-place position in the Cup Series standings. In 19 starts here, Stewart has 13 top-10s, five top-5s, a win and an average finish of 13.6.

Mark Garrow covers fantasy racing for ESPN.com.