FORD PERFORMANCE NASCAR: POCONO 2 NOTES
Greg Biffle is the last Ford driver to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway (2010) and while Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski have both won there since, they did it before joining the Ford stable with Team Penske in 2013. This weekend’s race is scheduled for Sunday, July 31 and will air on NBCSN at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time.
Team Penske drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano are both preparing for this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Keselowski has clinched a spot by virtue of his series-high four wins while Logano’s triumph at Michigan last month has him in a good position as well. Three other Ford drivers are in contention for Chase berths by virtue of points, but need good efforts this weekend at Pocono to cut their deficits. Trevor Bayne (18th), Ryan Blaney (19th) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (20th) are separated by nine points in the standings and need to gain ground on Kyle Larson, who currently holds the last Chase spot in 15th-place. Bayne trails Larson by 14 points while Blaney is 22 behind and Stenhouse 23 with six races remaining before the Chase begins. Of course, a win by any of those three, or any other Ford driver, would likely guarantee advancement.
ELLIOTT SWEEPS IN 1985
Ford reached victory lane at Pocono Raceway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for the first time on June 9, 1985 when Bill Elliott beat Harry Gant to win the Van Scoy Diamond Mine 500. Elliott was able to pass Gant with 11 laps remaining, shortly after a restart, to claim Ford’s first win at the facility. Elliott, who also started on the pole, was helped by four cautions over the final 25 laps and won for the sixth time as he led 32 of the 200 circuits. It marked the front end of what would eventually be a season sweep for Elliott at Pocono as he won a few weeks later on July 21.
KULWICKI’S FINAL WIN
Nobody knew it at the time, but when Alan Kulwicki won the Champion Spark Plug 500 on June 14, 1992 it marked the final victory of his career. Kulwicki passed Bill Elliott with 11 laps remaining to cap a day that saw 15 cars drop out before the checkered flag flew, including 11 engine failures. In a precursor to what happened a few months later at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Kulwicki and Elliott battled down the stretch as they exchanged the lead multiple times over the final 25 laps. Kulwicki passed Elliott for the top spot on lap 181, but traffic slowed him down to the point that five laps later the two swapped positions. Mark Martin made it a three-way battle, but Kulwicki ultimately prevailed as he got by both drivers on lap 190 and never looked back. Kulwicki, who won five series races overall, went on to win the championship later that year over fellow Ford drivers Elliott and Davey Allison.
WALLACE HOT STREAK
Rusty Wallace was in his first season with Ford after car owner Roger Penske decided to switch from Pontiac for the 1994 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. That decision paid immediate dividends as Wallace went on to win eight times that year, including the UAW-GM Teamwork 500 at Pocono on June 12. The victory, his second straight in a streak that eventually grew to three with another triumph at Michigan a few days later, was a dramatic one as he passed Dale Earnhardt on the final lap. The two waged a major battle as Earnhardt grabbed the lead with five laps to go, only to see Wallace fight back after the white flag flew to win by 0.28 seconds.
BIFFLE SNAPS DROUGHT
When Greg Biffle won the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono on Aug. 1, 2010 it snapped a 65-race winless drought and gave Ford its first win of the season. Biffle found himself next to Sam Hornish Jr. on the front row of a restart with 20 laps to go and after he was able to gain the lead through the tunnel turn, he never looked back and ended up beating Tony Stewart to the finish line by more than three seconds. The win was the first of two for Biffle that season as he also took the checkered flag at Kansas two months later.
FORD RACING POCONO WINNERS
1985 – Bill Elliott (Sweep)
1988 – Bill Elliott (2)
1989 – Terry Labonte and Bill Elliott
1990 – Geoffrey Bodine (2)
1992 – Alan Kulwicki (1)
1994 – Rusty Wallace and Geoffrey Bodine
1995 – Dale Jarrett (2)
1996 – Rusty Wallace (2)
1997 – Dale Jarrett (2)
1998 – Jeremy Mayfield (1)
2000 – Jeremy Mayfield and Rusty Wallace
2001 – Ricky Rudd (1)
2002 – Dale Jarrett (1)
2005 – Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch
2008 – Carl Edwards (2)
– Greg Biffle (2)