Stewart's Drive For Two In a Row at Pocono

Scott SpradlingContributor IJuly 30, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS - JULY 25:  Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet drives through the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Sunday's running of the Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway (1 p.m. ET, ESPN) marks the halfway point in the Race to the Chase and the second time the Cup Series visits Long Pond, Pa., for 500 miles of Cup Series action.

In June, Tony Stewart made personal history, winning for the first time as an owner/driver.

Stewart's win in the first race at Pocono was nothing short of a miracle due to the fact he started the race in a backup car after crashing in practice, placing him in the back of the pack. He methodically worked his way to the front before fuel strategy took over and Stewart saved enough gas to win by more than two seconds.

NASCAR fans will also remember that Pocono was the first Cup Series race to feature double-file restarts with the lead-lap cars.

While the new restarts were pretty uneventful in Pocono, they have altered numerous races since and could be a major factor Sunday. As the choices made by the lead drivers directly influence the outcome of the race ie; Mark Martin loss to Jimmy Johnson at the Brickyard 400.

In total Stewart led a total of 39 laps at Pocono, the 39th being the most important. The win at Pocono gave Stewart seven top-five finishes  and 15 top-10 finishes in 21 races.

In the last eight races at Pocono, Stewart has finished worse than seventh just once, a 35th-place effort in the 2008 June race.

But we all know Stewart and his personality, no matter how many times he goes back to Pocono he will always dwell on that 35th place finish and it will drive him in my opinion to no less than another top-five finish.

The real question for many NASCAR fans now is, how will Juan Pablo Montoya react (Conspiracy-theories aside) after his blunder at the Brickyard 400? Even though Montoya lost the win at Indy because of a speeding penalty, things are going very well for the No. 42 team.

His 11th-place finish gives him seven consecutive finishes in the top-15, In the last six races Montoya has been burning up the track with 844 points, top five among all drivers.

The top 12 standings by points heading into Pocono.

No.1 Tony Stewart(3054)

No. 2 Jimmy Johnson(-192)

No. 3 Jeff Gordon(-207)

No. 4 Kurt Busch(-446)

No. 5Carl Edwards(-498)

No. 6 Denny Hamlin(-536)                 

No. 7 Ryan Newman(-548)

No. 8 Kasey Kahne(-572)

No.9 Mark Martin(-583)

No. 10 Juan Pablo Montoya(-593)

No. 11 Greg Biffle(-609)

No. 12 Matt Kenseth(-625)