CONCORD, N.C.— This weekend’s race marks the second visit to Pocono Raceway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
And the perplexing three-turn, 2.5-mile Pennsylvania track awaits Hendrick Motorsports this weekend.
“Pocono is an interesting track with three different corners and long straightaways,” Kasey Kahne said. “If you don’t get a good run off the corner you can get passed and there is a lot of blocking that goes on. It is wide and it can be crazy getting into Turn 1 on the starts. It is a good spot to go and race and I enjoy it.”
Tune in Sunday to catch all the action and see who can defeat the ‘Tricky Triangle.’
Here’s what you should know prior to this weekend’s series of events:
BROADCAST INFORMATION: Sunday’s race will air live on NBCSN at 1:30 p.m. ET. Can’t make it to the television? Listen to the race live on MRN and SiriusXM to catch the radio coverage. Here is the full broadcast schedule:
Friday, June 29:
11:00 a.m. ET: Sprint Cup Series Practice, NBC Sports Network
4:00 p.m. ET: Sprint Cup Series Qualifying, NBC Sports Network
Saturday, June 30:
11:00 a.m. ET: Sprint Cup Series Final Practice, NBC Sports Network
Sunday, July 31:
1:30 p.m. ET: Sprint Cup Series Race, NBC Sports Network
THIS WEEKEND’S PAINT SCHEMES: Kahne will drive the No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS for this weekend’s race at Pocono Raceway. NAPA AUTO PARTS will be the primary partner on board Rookie of the Year contender Chase Elliott’s No. 24 Chevrolet SS. Jimmie Johnson will pilot the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet’s traditional blue and silver scheme with yellow 48s, and Jeff Gordon, filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the second week in a row, will pilot the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS.
HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT POCONO: Hendrick Motorsports has accumulated 17 wins at Pocono Raceway, with the four most recent coming as season sweeps in 2013 (Johnson and Kahne) and 2014 (Earnhardt). In addition, the organization has 12 pole positions, 67 top-five finishes and 116 top-10 finishes at the 2.5-mile triangle.
ACHIEVING 1,000: At Indianapolis, Johnson gave Hendrick Motorsports its 1,000th top-five finish since the team was founded by Rick Hendrick in 1984. The owner's first Sprint Cup top-five also was his first win -- with driver Geoff Bodine on April 29, 1984, at Martinsville Speedway. This season, the organization has recorded 20 top-fives among its four drivers. Hendrick Motorsports posted a team record 57 top-five finishes in 2007.
KAHNE AT POCONO: Kahne returns to Pocono Raceway for the second time this season. In this year’s June race, Kahne started the 160-lap event from the 11th position and overcame a pit road speeding penalty to end the day with a sixth-place finish. Kahne has two top-10 finishes in his last four starts at the 2.5-mile track. In the 36-year-old driver’s 25 starts at the Long Pond, Pennsylvania, track, he’s led a total of 219 laps throughout eight races, which ranks him seventh out of active drivers.
SUCCESS AT THE TRIANGLE: Earlier this year, Elliott was in contention for the win at the “Tricky Triangle,” logging a race-high 51 laps led. After a battle for the lead in the closing laps, the rookie ultimately finished in fourth in his first career Pocono start. It marked the fifth race in a string of six consecutive top-10 finishes for the young driver.
CHASE BOUND: With Johnson’s third-place finish at Indianapolis, he became one of only five drivers to have locked themselves into the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, which begins with the Chicagoland Speedway event on Sunday, Sept. 18. Due to Johnson’s two wins this season in Atlanta and Fontana, California, the driver of the No. 48 now has enough points to guarantee that he cannot fall outside of the top 30 in the standings. The only requirement remaining is that Johnson attempt to start the remaining races of the regular season.
THIRD-HIGHEST DRIVER RATING AT POCONO: According to NASCAR's loop data statistics, Johnson has the third-best driver rating at Pocono with a score of 106.3 during the past 10 years at the track. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points. The driver rating number is used pre-race as a prediction tool and post-race as a performance evaluator.
EARNHARDT UPDATE: Earnhardt, driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet SS for Hendrick Motorsports, will sit out his third consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event as he continues to recover from concussion-like symptoms. He will miss Sunday’s event at Pocono Raceway after not competing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Earnhardt gave an update on his condition this week on his "The Dale Jr. Download" podcast. He will not travel to Pocono or be available for interviews this week. A timetable has not yet been established for his return.
GORDON CONTINUES: Gordon, who filled in for Earnhardt last week at Indianapolis, finished 13th in his first race since last season’s finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Following the race, he shared a special moment with Tony Stewart as the two competitors and friends completed a final lap together at the Brickyard.
FIRST AT POCONO: Gordon holds the record for most wins at Pocono Raceway with six. The 44-year-old leads active drivers in top-five finishes (20) and top-10 results (32) at the track.