The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and the XFINITY Series head to Pocono Raceway this week while the Camping World Truck Series travels to Texas Motor Speedway. The Cup Series “Axalta presents the Pocono 400” headlines the weekend’s competition, Sunday at 3 p.m. on FS1. Thirty-nine drivers are entered in the Cup event.
But did you know that one of those 39 drivers is Darrell Wallace Jr., who will make his Cup Series debut at Pocono in the iconic No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford? On Monday, Wallace was named as the interim driver for Aric Almirola who is recovering from injuries sustained in an accident at Kansas Speedway on May 13.
Wallace is determined to make the most of this opportunity.
“I know I’ll go out there and prove to everybody inside the racetrack, outside the racetrack, on the TV, that I belong in the Cup Series,” he said. “Do the best that I can. Give an extra 200% each and every time I climb in the car for Ford, for Richard Petty, for everybody on the team, for Smithfield, to go out there and make the opportunity the greatest it has been.”
Did you know that the weekend will feature another first during the XFINITY Series Pocono Green 250? FOX will feature a special drivers-only broadcast that will be called by active Cup Series drivers? Kevin Harvick will handle the play-by-play announcing and will be joined by Joey Logano and Clint Bowyers as analysts. Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will cover pit road while Danica Patrick and Denny Hamlin host the event coverage from the Hollywood Hotel studio.
While we’re talking about firsts, we can’t forget the winner of the inaugural race in 1974, Richard Petty. But did you know that prior to 2012, all of the Cup races at Pocono were 500 miles? Beginning in 2012 the race length was shortened to 400 miles. There have been 78 Cup Series races at the 2.5-mile track, one race each year from 1974-1981 and two races per year since 1982.
Thirty-five different drivers have won at Pocono with Jeff Gordon leading the way with six wins. Of the active drivers, five have multiple wins at the track including Denny Hamlin (four), Jimmie Johnson (three), and Kurt Busch (three). Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. both have two wins.
Kurt Busch is the defending race winner but did you know he has the series-best driver rating (105.7)? The Stewart-Haas Racing driver also has 13 top fives, 18 top 10s and two poles at Pocono. He is currently 16th in the points standings.
Denny Hamlin (105.6) has the second-best driver rating followed by Jimmie Johnson (104.8), Chase Elliott (102.7) and Kyle Larson (95.6). All of these drivers are in the top-10 of the series standings but both Hamlin and Elliott are still searching for their first win this year.
But did you know that the best chance for victory at Pocono begins with qualifying well? The pole is the most proficient starting position, having produced 15 winners while nine races have been won from the second starting position.
Only seven drivers have swept Pocono in a single season. They include Bobby Allison (1982), Bill Elliott (1985), Tim Richmond (1986), Bobby Labonte (1999), Jimmie Johnson (2004) and Denny Hamlin (2006).
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the latest to sweep Pocono in 2014. In his past 11 starts at the track, Earnhardt has nine top-10 finishes including two wins and a runner-up finish last June.
Tune in to FS1 this Sunday at 3 p.m. for the Pocono 400 to find out who will take home the trophy. In the meantime, watch the video below as Earnhardt holds off Kevin Harvick for the Pocono sweep.
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