Pocono Raceway gets a bad wrap. Maybe it’s deserving, maybe not. But 500 miles at the 2.5-mile track that’s divided by three straightaways can last as long as a Super Bowl pre-game show. And that’s long — really long. Add in the potential for rain, which Pocono seems to always suck in with its triangular tractor beam, and 500 miles slowly becomes the 24 Hours of Pocono.
4 . KASEY KAHNE
THIEVING A TOP 15: Kasey Kahne and the No. 4 team spent most of a scorching Sunday at Kansas Speedway chasing the handling of their Red Bull Toyota. Kahne cracked the top 10 with just over 100 laps to go and cycled back to 27th as green-flag pit stops unfolded. He eventually climbed back into the top 20 before finishing 14th — his fourth top 15 in eight Kansas starts.
POLE-ONO: Driver No. 4 is no stranger to success at the tricky triangle. He debuted there in June 2004 and won the pole. He’s never started outside the top 20. One of his 11 career Sprint Cup victories came at Pocono, when he started from the pole and won the race after leading 69 laps.
VITAL SIGNS: After Kansas, Kahne gained a position in the driver standings to 18th. He’s 43 points out of 10th.
STATS THAT MATTER: Kahne has completed all but four of the 2,714 laps he’s seen at Pocono. That’d be a 99.8 percent completion rate. … He holds the Pocono qualifying record with a lap at 172.533 mph (June 2004). … Of the past 1,874 laps run at Pocono, Kahne has turned 155 fastest laps (fourth best). … Only Jamie McMurray has made more green-flag passes in the past 12 Pocono races — 987-974.
KAHNE’S KEY: “The straightaways are so long you need to get all of the speed so your car can come off of turn three as fast as possible. I’ve always liked the uniqueness of the three different corners and the challenge that it presents to the teams to set up your car to be fast at all points.”
83 . BRIAN VICKERS
FUEL, FUEL, FUEL: Brian Vickers’ No. 83 Red Bull Toyota was the last of 16 cars to finish on the lead lap as a myriad of strategies played out in the closing stages Sunday at Kansas Speedway. Vickers was up to fourth — right where he started the day, his best starting position of the season — with 16 laps to go and needed a timely caution. He never got it, was forced to pit under green and cycled back into traffic in 17th. He finished 16th.
POCONO MOUNTAIN MAN: Statistically, the 2.5-mile triangle that is Pocono Raceway is one of Vickers’ strongest tracks. He has started in the top 10 in eight of his 12 starts there and owns four top-five and five top-10 finishes, with 159 laps led. At 14.3, Pocono ranks second on the list of his top average-finish tracks (Chicago is first at 8.8).
VITAL SIGNS: Vickers picked up two spots in the driver standings Kansas. He sits 26th — 39 points out of 20th.
STATS THAT MATTER: In his past 10 starts at Pocono, Vickers has spent 73.4 percent of the laps in the top 15. … Only four drivers — Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards — have led more laps in the past 12 races at Pocono. … Vickers recently fell (i.e., skydived) 5,000 feet into Daytona International Speedway. NASCAR’s longest straightaway, the frontstretch at Pocono, is 3,740 feet.
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