Pennsylvania 500 Preview
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Tony Stewart will be gunning for his third consecutive Nextel Cup Series win on Sunday afternoon when he takes to the track at Pocono Raceway for the ’07 Pennsylvania 500.
Stewart won the USG Sheetrock 400 at Chicagoland Speedway two weeks ago, and he then visited victory lane on the weekend in the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Juan Montoya finished second in the race at Indy, with Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, and Reed Sorenson rounding out the Brickyard’s top 5 drivers.
Mark Martin, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, Dave Blaney, and Matt Kenseth also grabbed Top 10 finishes at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Kurt Busch ended up in 11th place, Martin Truex Jr. was 12th, Clint Bowyer was 13th, Carl Edwards was 18th, Denny Hamlin was 22nd, and Jamie McMurray finished well back of the pack in 33rd position.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. had engine trouble and finished in 34th place at Indy. Jimmie Johnson leapt out of his flaming car after hitting the wall, and he ended up in 39th place.
Gordon now has a 371-point lead on Hamlin for first place in the Nextel Cup Series driver standings, and he is currently tied with Johnson with a series-high four victories this season. Kenseth, Burton, Stewart, Edwards, Harvick, Kyle Busch, Johnson, Bowyer, Truex Jr., and Earnhardt Jr. round out the top dozen in the standings right now.
Kurt Busch is just below the Chase cutoff line in 13th place, and he’s just 13 points behind Earnhardt Jr. after 20 events. Newman sits 14th in the standings, 59 points behind Dale Jr. for the final Chase berth. McMurray is 113 points behind in 15th place.
Hamlin won the Pennsylvania 500 last year, and he also picked up the win in the Pocono 500 in 2006. Gordon won at Pocono earlier this season, and he visited victory lane at the track three times from 1996 to 1998. Other contending drivers with career wins at Pocono Raceway include Johnson (twice), Stewart, Edwards, and Kurt Busch.
Hamlin also has the best driver stats at Pocono; he’s managed to finish first, first, and sixth in his three career starts on that track for an average finishing position of 2.7. Gordon has an averaging finishing position of 10.2 at Pocono since 1998, with Johnson just behind him at 11.2. Stewart has an average finish of 12.8 through 17 Pocono races.
Other notable Pocono Raceway average finishing positions include Truex Jr. (12.3), Newman (14.2), Kenseth (14.9), Kurt Busch (15.7), Harvick (16.3), Edwards (16.6), Burton (16.9), Kyle Busch (17.0), Dale Jr. (18.3), McMurray (20.8), and Bowyer (24.0).
Who do the oddsmakers like to win at Pocono on Sunday? Here are the favorites . . .
Vegas Odds to Win Pennsylvania 500
Jimmie Johnson — 6/1
Jeff Gordon — 7/1
Tony Stewart — 7/1
Denny Hamlin — 8/1
Matt Kenseth — 14/1
Ryan Newman — 14/1
Martin Truex Jr. — 16/1
Jeff Burton — 17/1
Kevin Harvick — 17/1
Kyle Busch — 18/1
Dale Earnhardt Jr. — 18/1
Kurt Busch — 20/1
Carl Edwards — 20/1
Casey Mears — 20/1
Clint Bowyer — 25/1
Kasey Kahne — 25/1
Mark Martin — 30/1
Paul Menard — 30/1
Jamie McMurray — 35/1
Greg Biffle — 40/1
And here are the current Vegas odds to win the 2007 Nextel Cup championship . . .
Vegas Odds to Win Nextel Cup
Jeff Gordon — 2/1
Jimmie Johnson — 3/1
Matt Kenseth — 6/1
Tony Stewart — 7/1
Denny Hamlin — 9/1
Jeff Burton — 12/1
Carl Edwards — 18/1
Kyle Busch — 20/1
Dale Earnhardt Jr. — 20/1
Kevin Harvick — 20/1
Kurt Busch — 22/1
Ryan Newman — 22/1
Martin Truex Jr. — 30/1
Clint Bowyer — 40/1
Jamie McMurray — 45/1
There are five more ‘regular season’ races on the schedule after the event at Pocono:
August 12 – Centurion Boats at The Glen (Watkins Glen International)
August 19 – 3M Performance 400 (Michigan International Speedway)
August 25 – Sharpie 500 (Bristol Motor Speedway)
September 2 – NASCAR Nextel Cup Series 500 (California Speedway)
September 8 – Chevy Rock & Roll 400 (Richmond International Speedway)
The Chase for the Nextel Cup begins on September 16 with the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway, and concludes on November 18 with the Ford 400.
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