Kyle Busch nears track sweep after winning in Indianapolis.
After becoming the first driver to ever win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series races at Indianapolis from the pole in the same weekend, Kyle Busch has some more history to chase in Sunday’s Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway (12:30 p.m. on NBCSN).
The only active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series tracks where Busch has never won are Pocono and Charlotte. With a win on Sunday, he’ll be one step closer to a career track sweep.
In 23 career starts at Pocono, Busch claims four top fives, eight top 10s and a 19.0 average finish.
This season, Busch leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 11 top-five finishes and ranks tied for first with Brad Keselowski for the wins lead with four. He has posted strong loop data, ranking second in driver rating (106.9) and laps led (982), third in average running position (6.7) and fourth in fastest laps run (438).
If Busch leads 40 more laps, he’ll become the 14th driver in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history to lead 12,000 or more laps.
Gordon Back In The 88
Jeff Gordon takes the wheel of the No. 88 Chevrolet in place of Dale Earnhardt Jr. for at least one more race – Sunday’s Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway.
Gordon finished 13th in his return to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series action at Indianapolis last weekend.
The Hendrick Motorsports driver holds the track record with six Pocono wins. In 46 starts at the Tricky Triangle, Gordon also has 20 top fives, 32 top 10s and a 9.8 average finish. Among active drivers, Gordon boasts the second-best average running position (10.2) and fifth-best driver rating at Pocono (102.4).
Hendrick Motorsports’ 17 wins at Pocono are the most in track history.
How Sweep It Is: Kurt Busch Tries For Second Pocono Win Of Season
Kurt Busch will try for his second Pocono win of the season Sunday after he visited Victory Lane at the 2.5-mile track in June when he led the final 32 laps of the race.
Seven drivers have completed the Pocono sweep: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2014), Denny Hamlin (2006), Jimmie Johnson (2004), Bobby Labonte (1999), Tim Richmond (1986), Bill Elliott (1985) and Bobby Allison (1982).
In 30 starts at the Tricky Triangle, Busch boasts three wins, 13 top fives, 17 top 10s and an average finish of 12.7. His 106.8 Pocono driver rating is second best among active drivers.
Additionally, Busch will go for the record for most consecutive races running every lap to start the season. He tied the record of 20 races – set by Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2012 – last week in Indianapolis.
Larson Climbs, Headlines Bubble
Kyle Larson made it back on the Chase Grid for the first time since the second week of the season at Atlanta following his fifth-place finish at Indianapolis.
He holds the final spot, 10 points ahead of 17th-place Kasey Kahne, and 11 points above 18th-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. Trevor Bayne (14 points behind Larson) trails in 18th, followed by Ryan Blaney (-22) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (-23).
Larson has three top-six finishes in his last six races headed into Pocono. He claims one top five, two top 10s and an average finish of 9.4 at the 2.5-mile track. He has never finished lower than 12th there.
Elliott Eyes First Win At Pocono
Chase Elliott continues to search for his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win 20 races into his Sunoco Rookie season.
Pocono could be the spot the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports driver finally visits Victory Lane. He led a race-high 51 laps at the Tricky Triangle in June before finishing fourth.
Elliott has struggled lately. He has failed to finish in the top 10 since his second-place showing at Michigan – five races ago. Still, Elliott currently ranks 12th on the Chase Grid, a comfortable 63 points ahead of Kasey Kahne on the cutoff line.
6 Races Left Until The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup
Only five Chase berths remain with six races left until the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup – Pocono, Watkins Glen, Bristol, Michigan, Darlington and Richmond.
A visit to Victory Lane gets a winless driver into the Chase as long as he/she is in the top 30 in the points standings.
The drivers who will get into the Chase because of wins are: Brad Keselowski (4 wins), Kyle Busch (3), Carl Edwards (2), Jimmie Johnson (2), Matt Kenseth (2), Kevin Harvick (1), Kurt Busch (1), Joey Logano (1), Martin Truex Jr. (1), Denny Hamlin (1) and Tony Stewart (1).
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle and Ryan Newman are the only currently winless drivers who have visited Victory Lane at Pocono Raceway – the site of Sunday’s race.
Below are the remaining tracks after Pocono and winless drivers who have visited Victory Lane at them:
Watkins Glen: AJ Allmendinger
Bristol: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne
Michigan: Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne
Darlington: Greg Biffle, Regan Smith
Richmond: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman
Five drivers have officially clinched berths in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup (assuming they start the remaining races in the regular season): Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth.
For this weekend, these drivers have the potential to officially clinch:
• Kevin Harvick (1 Win, 671 Points, +434 Points Ahead of 31st) – Clinches with a win.
• Kurt Busch (1 Win, 627 Points, +390 Points Ahead of 31st) – Clinches with a win.
• Joey Logano (1 Win, 606 Points, +369 Points Ahead of 31st) – Clinches with a win.
• Martin Truex Jr (1 Win, 573 Points, +336 Points Ahead of 31st) – Clinches with a win.
• Denny Hamlin (1 Win, 542 Points, +305 Points Ahead of 31st) – Clinches with a win.
All of the above drivers have already clinched a top 30 spot, but need to clear the multiple wins hurdle.
So, there’s a decent potential for no clinches this weekend if a zero-win driver wins or an already clinched driver wins.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Etc.
Almirola Set For 200th Start
Aric Almirola is scheduled to make his 200th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start Sunday at Pocono. For his career, the Richard Petty Motorsports driver has one win, eight top fives and 25 top 10s. …
Fieri Gives Command At Pocono
Chef, restaurateur, New York Times best-selling author and Emmy Award-winning television host Guy Fieri will serve as Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway.
Fieri owns Guy Fieri’s Mount Pocono Kitchen in the Mount Airy Casino Resort in nearby Mount Pocono, as well as Guy Fieri’s Chophouse in Atlantic City, amongst others. He is also the star of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” and “Guy’s Grocery Games” on Food Network.
Fieri will provide the “Star Your Engines” command prior to the start of the Pennsylvania 400.
Patrick Set For Teen Choice Awards
Tune-in to FOX on Sunday at 7 p.m. to see if NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Danica Patrick wins “Choice Female Athlete” in the 2016 Teen Choice Awards. Visit www.teenchoice.com for the full list of nominees and categories.