NASCAR & Auto Racing

NASCAR: Axalta 400 preview in 3 minutes

Kevin Harvick has nine top-two finishes on the season - tied with NASCAR Hall of Famers Bobby Allison (1972) and Cale Yarborough (1977) for the most through the first 13 races of a season.
Kevin Harvick has nine top-two finishes on the season - tied with NASCAR Hall of Famers Bobby Allison (1972) and Cale Yarborough (1977) for the most through the first 13 races of a season. Getty Images

Everything you need to know about Sunday’s Axalta 400 at Pocono, in three minutes:

Three things to watch

1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won both races at Pocono Raceway last season and is looking for a third consecutive victory. The most recent driver to win three or more times in a row at a track is Kevin Harvick, who’s won the past four races at Phoenix.

2. Hendrick Motorsports drivers have won the past five Cup races at Pocono. All four teams have been strong again this weekend.

3. Kevin Harvick has nine top-two finishes on the season – tied with NASCAR Hall of Famers Bobby Allison (1972) and Cale Yarborough (1977) for the most through the first 13 races of a season.

Observations

▪ Perception is all too often the reality in racing. Another example: Through 13 Cup races, there have been 55,701 green flag passes, the second-highest total through 13 races since the inception of loop data in 2005. Yet there are complaints about the lack of passing. Why? Because it’s the race leader position that fails to change a lot. But even that is not as bad as it’s made out to be. Through 13 races, there have been 376 green-flag passes for the lead – the fifth-highest total since 2005.

▪  Martin Truex Jr. has already led more laps in 2015 (389) than he has in all but two total seasons in his 12-year Cup series career, and more than all but three drivers – Kevin Harvick (1,123), Kurt Busch (659) and Joey Logano (464). He’s also led the most laps in the past three races.

▪  Lots of talk this weekend about some “bumps” in the Tunnel Turn at Pocono – some drivers worry their cars may not make it through 400 miles while others believe the bumps “add character” to the track and could add some interesting moments in Sunday’s race. As is usually the case, the end result will likely fall somewhere in the middle.

Best bets

Three picks for your fantasy team:

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: He swept both races at Pocono last season but has struggled somewhat getting a handle on his No. 88 Chevrolet this weekend.

Denny Hamlin: Hamlin has earned more wins (four), poles (three) and top fives (nine) than he has at Pocono than any track besides Martinsville.

Kyle Larson: Larson recorded his best finish of the season last weekend, and he was second-fastest in the final Cup series practice session Saturday.

He said it

“Give and take is very difficult in this day and age when the cars are developed the way they are with the aero package that you are going to be trying to get all you can getting down into the Tunnel Turn,” - pole winner Kurt Busch

Notes

Summer Shootout begins this week: The Bojangles’ Summer Shootout kicks off this week with a two-night doubleheader Monday and Tuesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Entering its 22nd season, the 2015 racing series will feature more than 150 Legends and Bandolero cars competing in six divisions for 10 nights over the summer on the speedway’s quarter-mile frontstretch oval.

Admission is free for children ages 13 and under, and $8 for everyone else. Tuesday’s activities include area school principals racing school buses.

Pattie takes Saturday off: Clint Bowyer’s crew chief, Brian Pattie, returned to North Carolina on Saturday to attend his daughter’s graduation ceremony. He will return in time to work Sunday’s race atop the No. 15 team’s pit box.

N@SCAR

Getting there

Race facts

Axalta 400

Where: Pocono Raceway, Long Pond, Pa.

Track type: 2.5-mile paved, triangular-shaped track.

Race distance: 400 miles, or 160 laps.

Green flag: 1:19 p.m.

Weather: Partly cloudy with a high in the low 70s.

TV: Fox Sports 1.

Radio: Motor Racing Network.

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