Don't look at the GoBowling.com 400 (formerly Pennsylvania 400) as a letdown after last week's exciting Brickyard 400. There are plenty of storylines to follow at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa.
Here's a look at the pertinent information needed to enjoy the race, followed by a look at the compelling angles from Long Pond.
Here are the starting lineups for Sunday's race. Drivers who are in the field based on owners' points don't have qualifying speeds.
Jimmie Johnson vs. Ryan Newman Rivalry Heating Up
After winning the Brickyard 400 from the pole position, Ryan Newman served notice that he'd do his part to make Jimmie Johnson's path to a sixth Sprint Cup Championship as bumpy as possible.
Despite Newman's pole status, Johnson was the predominant favorite to kiss the bricks at Indy, but pit strategies down the stretch cost Johnson the win.
With Newman hot and Johnson capturing the pole at Pocono Raceway, all eyes will be on these two on Sunday. Newman still needs another win or impressive finishes to ensure a spot in the Chase later in the year.
Major Chase Implications
Last year's champion, Brad Keselowski, has found the going much tougher this season. He's just 13th in the standings, and even more importantly, he's yet to capture a win this season.
Without a move up in the standings and without capturing a checkered flag, Keselowski will miss out on the Chase. He desperately needs a win—or at least a strong showing—at Pocono Raceway to improve his chances of making it to NASCAR's second season.
Here's a look at the Sprint Cup standings prior to Sunday's race:
Click here to see the entire standings.
As the standings indicate, there are only six points separating the 10th spot from the 13th. Drivers would obviously prefer to make the top 10 to receive the automatic spot in the Chase. The two wild-card spots will be heavily coveted and hard to come by.
Only drivers who place 11th to 20th will have a shot, and the first tiebreaker is wins during the season. Of the drivers who currently sit in the aforementioned range, only Newman, Martin Truex Jr. and Tony Stewart have won a race this year.
With only six races remaining before the Chase begins, the bubble drivers and their teams must be at their best.
Per Weather.com, it should be a cool day at Pocono Raceway. The high is just 69 degrees, and there is a slight chance of thunderstorms during race time.
Hopefully, the race will take place without delay and we can take another step toward the culmination of an exciting NASCAR season.
Despite Newman's recent success and the pressure on Johnson to continue to shine, it is hard to bet against him. He's already won four times this year and nearly took his fifth in Indy last week.
After grabbing the pole position in qualifying, Johnson is the man to beat.
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