Saturday, August 2, 2014

Pocono Post-Practice Notes: 2014 400

Kurt Busch might be one to give Keselowski his biggest fight Sunday
Brad Keselowski was fastest in Saturday’s final practice session at Pocono Raceway and its just a small reason why he comes into Sunday’s 400 as the driver to beat. Between weekend practices and qualifying, Keselowski finished with no worse than the third fastest time between all four sessions.

If looking at just weekend practices alone, especially those on Saturday ran exclusively in race trim, it’s enough to make Keselowski the easy favorite. But when throwing in his past resume at Pocono for good measure, it elevates him even further to the top. He won there in 2011 and led a race-high 95 laps in the June 6 Pocono race before settling for second.

Keselowski is a notch above everyone else, but with his odds figuring to be dropped to almost unbettable numbers, it’s not a bad idea to make a case for a few others to win. Let’s take a look at a few that present the best value:

Kyle Larson (20/1): We’ve seen rookies in the past win at Pocono like Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards and Larson looks like the most qualified since those two to do the same. Larson will start from the pole and was sixth fastest in the final practice session. Beyond showing that his Chevy has some horsepower to get around the massive 2.5-mile triangular layout, what stands out most as being a top candidate was solid runs in the June Pocono race where he finished fifth and then last week at Indy where he was seventh. He’s one of four drivers to finish in the top-10 at each of those tracks this season and it’s a good sign he’ll be knocking on the door for his first career win Sunday. Starting up front is always a good thing at Pocono where 15 of the 73 (20.5%) winners have started, the last being in June, 2013 by Jimmie Johnson.

Kurt Busch (15/1): He was fastest in Friday’s practice with qualifying trim and then was fastest in the early session Saturday with race trim. He’s a two-time winner on the track and has finished third or better in four of his last six starts. Look for him to match or better his third-place run from June.

Dale Earnhardt Jr (8/1): He took the Pocono checkers for the first time in June and is using the same chassis this week, which is a big deal. He was fifth fastest in the final practice and if he wins Sunday, it will be his first season sweep at a track since taking both Talladega races in 2002.

Kasey Kahne (12/1): He didn’t have blazing speeds during practices, but that was also the case last week at Indy when he led the most laps. Because of such a short turnaround where the notes are still fresh from Indy, chances are he’ll be great on the longer runs again Sunday. He’s a two-time Pocono winner, including this race last season.

You can expect Gordon and Johnson to be battling for the win as well on Sunday. They were both strong in Saturday’s practices and each come with cars that have won in the past. Gordon is using his winning Kansas chassis and Johnson is using the one that won at Dover.

Kevin Harvick had the best 10-consecutive lap average during the final practice session, which is always a good sign of things to come, but only eight drivers ran that many in a row. Harvick has never won at Pocono, but he’s part of that strong Hendrick Chevy group that should find their way to the front giving Keselowski's Penske Ford all he can handle.

Read More Here.....Final Driver Ratings

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