LONG POND, Pa. – The unique layout of Pocono Raceway will host the Gander RV 400 (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) in the 21st race of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. With six races left in the regular season, the playoff chase is heating up and the regular-season title battle is tightly contested. Here’s a look at some key storylines heading into Sunday’s race.
Stage strategy: The Pocono race is a strategist’s dream (think National League-style baseball). The stage lengths of 50-50-60 and the fact that the pit box calls the race like a road-course race to lend itself to that. You’ll see teams pass on stage points to better position themselves for the win and to make it just one stop in the final stage — something Kyle Busch did in the June race. You’ll also see drivers in need of a good points day chase stage points like William Byron and Kyle Larson did earlier this year at Pocono.
Uncovering the uncontrolled: This race marks the first race since NASCAR redefined the guidelines for uncontrolled tire penalties to eliminate the “arm’s length” interpretation. Tires will be considered under control if: tire(s) do not roll into the traffic lanes of pit road; removed tire(s) do not return to the outside half of the pit box; tire(s) are handled in a safe manner, avoiding instances of bouncing or throwing tires. For the first time in Pocono’s history, PJ1 has been applied to the track surface in an effort to give drivers more versatility regarding lane selection. Kevin Harvick indicated that Denny Hamlin “has kind of spearheaded a lot of the PJ1 evolution from the driver’s side of it.”
0-for-37: Kevin Harvick broke his 2019 winless drought with a thrilling victory last weekend at New Hampshire. His 37 Pocono starts without a win are the most among active drivers on the circuit. That said, it’s not like he hasn’t been close in recent years. He has five top fives in his last six starts here. Pending pre-race inspection, he holds the provisional pole position for Sunday’s race. Is the lack of a Pocono win on his ledger a frustrating factoid? “I don’t get frustrated,” Harvick said. “I just want to win. … We’ve had a lot of things go wrong here over the past several years and in contention to win races, so if you stay in contention to win races long enough, you will.”
Kyle Busch won for the second consecutive time in Pocono Raceway’s second race of the year last July. He also sipped champagne from Victory Lane this year when the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series first visited the 2.5-mile “Tricky Triangle” track. It should not be a surprise, then, Busch remains the betting favorite to win Sunday. Scroll through to see the odds, and some potential value plays, via Westgate in Las Vegas.
Courtesy : CBSSPORTS