Here are five drivers to watch in this Sunday's Pocono 500 from the long and very difficult tri-oval in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.
Mark has more experience at Pocono than most of the drivers in this weekend's event have wins. Martin has competed in 44 races over his career at Pocono, and in that span has only seen five DNF's, placed on his record, as well as three poles including one in the June race in 1991.
Martin is a shining example of patience and it is going to take a lot of patience to have a car that at the end of a long 500 mile day can be a competitor to take home the trophy. Not to mention he has Hendrick equipment underneath him and four top 10s in his four race Pocono career driving a Chevy.
Hamlin may be seventh in points only a on-track position from surpassing his JGR teammate Kyle Busch in the standings but that doesn't mean that Hamlin is one bit satisfied with his currently win-less season.
Hamlin swept the Pocono races in his rookie season and I expect him to bring back the type of performance that he exhibited in his first win in which he won the pole, spun early and came back to win the race with a crumpled left-rear fender.
Sure he won those races in the old car but he still has Mike Ford on top of his pit box and Ford will make sure this weekend's car is as competitive as the car that won two races was.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Really conflicted on this pick, but I'm going to go on a limb with Junior and here is why. Obviously there is a lot of pressure on Junior with the crew chief change and still being the only driver in the HMS stable without a win this season and I believe that pressure will be the extra motivation he needs to bring home a solid top five or top 10 finish on Sunday.
Junior knows last week was just that, last week. Should he slump back into his old performances before the change then more people will start to say that it was never Eury and that the reason for the poor performance was him and that is the last thing Junior wants.
Look for Junior to treat this weekend as a new beginning with a new crew chief at a track that anything can happen at and truly anyone can win.
What a confidence booster last week must of been for Tony and the entire team over at Stewart Haas Racing. After being in a position to challenge for the win and finishing second thus taking over the points lead and being the first owner/driver to do so for over 500 races look for him to take down another point on his checklist.
Smoke already has a "win" in the non-points All-Star event but after numerous runner-up finishes you know the competitor inside of Stewart is not one bit of happy with silver. Stewart will look to this weekend to put that check mark next to win as an owner and get some bonus points for the Chase.
Underdog: Max Papis
One thing that Pocono is a lot like is a road course, and Papis is a very skilled road course driver. With three turns that are very different, I look for Papis to take advantage of his skills and not only make the race, but to bring home a top 20 finish.
For you Yahoo users this guy would be a great choice for one of your two C-List drivers for this week alongside of Joey Logano. If Papis makes the race give heavy consideration to running him. I look for him to bring home a solid finish plus it will save starts on some of your better C-List drivers like Logano, Allmendinger and Labonte.
Were it not for a splitter problem causing the sensation of a vibration for Kyle Busch, I feel he would of been a fourth driver fighting for the win there at the finish. But like any race, anything can happen, and it did for Busch.
Carl carried the banner for my picks bringing home my only top 10 with a seventh place finish.
Martin Truex Jr.-21st
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!