Can he do it three times in a row? He has. As a matter of fact, I saw it coming. Sure, it took him longer than expected to win a race this year, surprisingly after claiming his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship last season. I didn’t count him out, and knew the streak would begin soon enough.
It started with Charlotte, continued last week at Dover, and look for the streak to continue this weekend at Pocono. His Crew Chief Chad Knaus loves Pocono. It may even go on to next week at Michigan, a place that Jimmie Johnson has on his list of favorites.
This weekend can also mark another milestone. If Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins this weekend, he will become the fourth and final Hendrick driver to take the checkered flag first in recent times. He will follow his teammates Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne, who won the last three races at Pocono. It is very possible that the No. 88 claims yet another victory this season, and he could do it here at the Tricky Triangle on Sunday.
Don’t count out Brad Keselowski. In the media center after qualifying, I asked Keselowski about the difference in the cars that NASCAR mandated before the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Season and how it affected the practice and qualifying sessions today.
Keselowski responded that those changes have definitely enhanced the speed capability of the cars, which saw the previous track record shattered.
I asked Pole Sitter Denny Hamlin what he would say to people who counted him out before qualifying even began because of his mixed luck here over the past six races. Remember, the last race here in August he finished last.
Hamlin admitted that since the repave at the triangular-shaped track, he has not done well. BUT… He added that since the repave, the track is wearing little by little, and he thinks that the FedEx team is “getting their groove back.”
In the media center, Kyle Larson commented on his transition from driving ARCA this weekend to driving Cup. He said it’s completely different, and the turns are something like he has never experienced. He said “I am probably the worst shifter in the world…it’s kind of embarrassing actually…. The team is making me drive around town using a stick.”
The shifting at Pocono is without a doubt unique, and brings something else to the table, and will be yet another factor affecting race day. Whatever the outcome, look for some worthy action on Sunday.