NASCAR at Pocono: 5 Underdogs to Watch This Weekend

Melissa Bauer-HerzogCorrespondent IJune 8, 2011

NASCAR at Pocono: 5 Underdogs to Watch This Weekend

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    LONG POND, PA - AUGUST 01:  The field prepares to leave pit road after a red flag delay during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway on August 1, 2010 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Im
    Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

    The time has come, 500 laps at Pocono await all fans brave enough to watch. But other than the regular drivers, who are five underdogs you should watch during the race? Come with me as we take a look at those sleepers who just may pull out a surprise on Sunday when no one is looking. Could we have another surprise winner like last week?

No. 1: Brad Keselowski

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    KANSAS CITY, KS - JUNE 05:  Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 400 at Kansas Speedway on June 5, 2011 in Kansas City, Kansas.  (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images f
    Geoff Burke/Getty Images

    Brad Keselowski took most NASCAR fans (and drivers) by surprise last week when he won at Kansas. But even with that win, Keselowski is still considered an underdog this season. He's seven points out of the magical top 20 he needs to be in for his win to count and a top 10 would be a nice way to get it.

No. 2: Paul Menard

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - MAY 28: Paul Menard, driver of the #27 Moen/Menards Chevrolet, climbs into his car prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 28, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Geoff
    Geoff Burke/Getty Images

    Paul Menard flourished when he joined Richard Childress Racing this season but seems to have lost the success bug the last few weeks. But with RCR having the drama of their owner being put on probation after an altercation with Kyle Busch last week, Menard may find his fire again.

    Drivers always seem to do their best when their team is in trouble or has some drama brewing and this seems like time for Menard to step back into the RCR limelight.

No. 3: Martin Truex Jr.

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    KANSAS CITY, KS - JUNE 04:  Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 400 at Kansas Speedway on June 4, 2011 in Kansas City, Kansas.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Gett
    John Harrelson/Getty Images

    With change (hopefully) comes success. Martin Truex Jr. will be showing up to Pocono this week with a new crew chief and the hope that it turns out as good as the most recent Dale Jr. crew chief change.

    "His personality and mine mesh really well. We get along great, and he really understands what I am saying," Truex told Nascar.com. "He is extremely good at pulling more information from me to get the answers to questions he has when setting up the car. The communication between he and I is impressive, and we just click. I'm looking forward to what all we can accomplish together as a team."

    With Truex's familiarity with his new crew chief, they may make big waves this weekend.

No. 4: Marcos Ambrose

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    KANSAS CITY, KS - JUNE 04:  Marcos Ambrose, driver of the #9 Stanley Ford, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 400 at Kansas Speedway on June 4, 2011 in Kansas City, Kansas.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
    Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

    The move to Richard Petty Motorsports seems to have done Marcos Ambrose good this season as he has two top fives and four top 10s. Ambrose still hasn't gotten a win in the Sprint Cup series and most believe his win will only come on a road course.

    Ambrose hasn't had the best luck here in the past (his average Pocono finish is a 27.2), but he is top 20 in points and looks to be improving most of his track averages from the past. In addition to his new ride success, Ambrose earned 111 points in the three races before Kansas, better numbers than Carl Edwards (110 points) and Kevin Harvick (109 points). Ambrose is definitely a sleeper that could gain his first win this week if he plays his cards right.

No. 5: David Ragan

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    KANSAS CITY, KS - JUNE 04:  David Ragan, driver of the #6 UPS Ford, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 400 at Kansas Speedway on June 4, 2011 in Kansas City, Kansas.  (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
    Jerry Markland/Getty Images

    David Ragan seems to be coming into his own this year with four top 10s (two top fives) and a pole for 17th spot in points. While his career best second place finish at Charlotte may have been a fluke that depended on gas mileage, his stats this year look better than some of the big drivers such as Jeff Burton and are almost identical to others such as Juan Montoya (who also has two top fives and four top 10s).

    Ragan has shown some flashes of potential this year and it wouldn't be surprising if one of those flashes turned into a win at Pocono.