Previewing the Pennsylvania 400
July 29, 2016
Pocono Raceway will serve as stop 21 of 36 on the Sprint Cup Series schedule Sunday, July 31. There are six races left on the schedule before the beginning of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Busch enters Pocono Raceway as the last Sprint Cup Series winner at the 2.5-mile triangle.
Busch will make series history if he finishes on the lead lap Sunday, becoming the first driver to complete every lap in the first 21 scheduled races.
The elder Busch brother has finished inside the top-five at the track in four of the last six races.
Busch gave his insight on his win from June.
“Johnny Klausmeier, our interim crew chief, our lead engineer, he stepped up and, when you do that, it makes you really feel that team comradery, that team chemistry and that team effort,” he said in a press release.
“It's awesome to have a team that week-in and week-out can be competitive and can overcome adversity like that. It was our first win in the Sprint Cup Series for Monster Energy, and that was really special, as well.”
The Pennsylvania 400 will mark Gordon’s second scheduled appearance in the No. 88 as a fill-in driver for the sidelined Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Gordon is a six-time Cup Series winner at the track with the most recent victory coming in August of 2012.
In 46 races at Pocono Raceway, Gordon has amassed 32 top-ten finishes and 20 top-five finishes. Gordon’s average finish of 9.8 is his fourth best among the 23 active tracks.
Gordon finished third in his most recent race at Pocono in August of 2015.
No official announcement has been made as to when Dale Jr. will return, yet Pocono could mark the four-time series champion’s last race in the car.
“I want Dale Jr. back in the car as soon as possible … but to go to Indy and finish a decent 13th, I think I can do better this week for him and then we’ll just go from there,” Gordon said in a press release.
“We are all going to work together to do our best to continue to keep that excitement and momentum in the team there for when he is ready to come back, so he comes back and doesn’t miss a beat and can win some races.
Four of the five rookie-of-the-year candidates were in the field at the most recent Sprint Cup Series stop at Pocono Raceway.
Chase Elliott led 51 laps in the June event, the most of any driver in the race. The last time a rookie led the most laps in an event was Denny Hamlin at Pocono in July of 2006.
Two of the rookie candidates finished inside the top-ten in June; Chase Elliott fourth and Ryan Blaney tenth.
Chris Buescher finished 25th, one lap down and Brian Scott finished 39th, 79 laps down. Scott was involved in a single-car accident in the June event.
At time of publication, according to weather.com, the forecast for the race Sunday calls for scattered thunderstorms and a 60 percent chance of rain. The high is projected to hit 72.
The forecast Friday will consist of a 60 percent chance of rain. Friday, the first day of on-tack activity, features one practice for the Sprint Cup Series, qualifying, and two practice sessions for the Camping World Truck Series.
A 40 percent chance of rain is in the forecast for Monday, Aug.1, in the event the race is pushed back.
The Pocono race in June was pushed back to a Monday due to inclement weather, the only race in 2016 pushed back at least one day from its original scheduled start date.