Commentary

Five drivers to watch: Pennsylvania 500

Five drivers to watch: Pennsylvania 500.

Updated: September 6, 2007, 3:24 PM ET
By K. Lee Davis | ESPN.com

LONG POND, Pa. -- A track like no other awaits the drivers in Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 (ESPN, 1 p.m. ET), with one of the toughest turns in racing -- the Tunnel Turn -- a front straight long enough to land a jumbo jet and a full 2.5 miles all the way around. The race may take all afternoon, but the winner will likely have won at Pocono Raceway before. Here are five drivers worth watching:

Denny Hamlin

1. Denny Hamlin
How good is Hamlin at Pocono? Three starts, two victories and one of the best cars on the track when Gordon won the June race thanks to pit strategy and a timely downpour. Anything can happen, but something bad will have to happen (see pit crew mishap) for Hamlin not to have a shot at winning.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
He's on the pole for the first time in nearly five seasons and his bad luck can't last forever. Twelve of 59 race winners have started from the pole at Pocono, and Chevys have won the last five races here. He's as good a favorite as you're going to get.

Tony Stewart

3. Tony Stewart
He's won two in a row and while he's never won three straight, he drives a Chevrolet, he won at Pocono in 2003 and it would be priceless to see him climb the metal fence during a lightning storm. Well, as long as he didn't get hurt.

Jeff Gordon

4. Jeff Gordon
He won a rain-shortened Pocono 500 in June, he can clinch a spot in the Chase by finishing better than 11th Sunday and then simply starting the final five races before New Hampshire and he's caught plenty of breaks this season. With afternoon rain in the forecast at Pocono on Sunday, might we see a Mother Nature sweep for the 24?

Kurt Busch

5. Kurt Busch
He was the runner-up to Hamlin both times last season, has won once and put up six top-5s career at the track. He had the pole secured on Friday until a storm cooled the track and gave Earnhardt a break as the next driver out. Busch led morning practice Saturday. Dodge will win another race this season and Busch may be the one to accomplish it first.

K. Lee Davis is a motorsports editor at ESPN.com. He can be reached at kevin.davis@espn3.com.

SPONSORED HEADLINES