News & Media


Notes: New asphalt among challenges at Pocono

August 01, 2012, Official Release, NASCAR.com

When the Camping World Truck Series hits the asphalt at Pocono Raceway in the Pocono Mountains 125 on Saturday, it will be the third time the series has competed at the 2.5-mile track, but the first time on the newly repaved surface.

The new surface has potential to throw a wrench in the competition and shake up the championship hunt. However, statistics show the hunt for the win could come down to the front-runners in the points battle.

National representation

Winners in all three series
DriverDriver
Greg BiffleMark Martin
Clint BowyerJamie McMurray
Kurt BuschRyan Newman
Kyle BuschSteve Park
Ricky CravenDavid Reutimann
Carl EdwardsElliott Sadler
Bobby HamiltonKen Schrader
Denny HamlinJimmy Spencer
Kevin HarvickTony Stewart
Bobby LabonteMichael Waltrip
Terry Labonte

Three drivers inside the top five in the championship standings -- Timothy Peters, Justin Lofton and James Buescher -- all have top-10 finishes at the famed Tricky Triangle. Peters increased his championship standings lead following Chicagoland to 23 points over second-place Ty Dillon.

Dillon and Lofton are both former winners at the track in the ARCA Series.

ThorSport Racing teammates Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter also are likely to figure in the equation. Crafton, who's moved from 21st to sixth in points on the strength of four consecutive top-fives, finished third at Pocono in 2010. Sauter, winner at Texas in June, took fourth in last year's Pocono Mountains 125.

Hamlin ready to end Busch's winless drought

Six top-10 finishes in 10 races would be considered a pretty solid record -- unless you're Kyle Busch Motorsports. For the Truck Series owners' champion in its debut season, that's just on the north side of unsuccessful.

KBM, a 16-time series winner, still looks to crack Victory Lane as the midpoint of the season looms.

Saturday's race, which will see four-time Cup Series Pocono winner Denny Hamlin at the controls of the No. 18 Toyota, may be the icebreaker. Hamlin won at Martinsville this past October and was poised to nab a second victory when weather prematurely ended the 2011 finale at Homestead.

"I really enjoyed driving the No. 18 Tundra for KBM the couple of races I did last year and I'm looking forward to working with Rick [Ren], Eric [Phillips] and all the guys over there again," said Hamlin, who finished ninth in the inaugural Pocono Mountains 125 in 2010. "Pocono is obviously one of my better tracks, so I think that we'll have a good shot at adding another banner to the rafters at Kyle's shop."

"Visitors" from Sprint Cup won both previous Truck races at Pocono -- Elliott Sadler in 2010 and Kevin Harvick a year ago. Neither is entered in Saturday's race, although another former Cup winner at Pocono will be in the lineup. Brad Keselowski bids to become the 24th driver to win in each of NASCAR's three national series.

Trucks readied Dillon for some Indianapolis hard driving

In a word, "awesome" pretty much describes Sunoco Rookie of the Year leader Dillon's Nationwide Series performance last weekend at Indianapolis. Dillon upstaged just about everyone except race winner Keselowski -- and his older brother, 2011 Truck champion Austin -- in qualifying and finishing third in the NNS debut at the speedway.

Dillon, 20, was quick to praise his home series for preparing him for a strut on a very big stage.

"I think a lot of the credit is to the Truck Series. Every time you unload, you're wide-open for the first 20 laps and you have to drive as hard as you can in that series," Dillon said. "Just having that attitude ... it sounded like we were really going to have to hustle these Nationwide cars."

Dillon continues to pursue his first Truck victory with a best finish of second at Martinsville. He opened the season with nine consecutive top-10 finishes, a rookie record. He's 51 points ahead of Cale Gale in the rookie point standings.

Dillon is the third points-eligible driver to taste success while venturing into one of NASCAR's other national series. Buescher won the season-opening NNS race at Daytona while Nelson Piquet Jr. was the Nationwide winner in June at Road America.

Camping World Truck Series, Etc.

Todd Bodine is taking his talents off the track this weekend in advance of Saturday's Pocono Mountains 125. The former series champion will host the third annual Onion Slice Open on Thursday. The golf tournament will be held at the Blue Ridge Trail Golf Club. Proceeds from the event will benefit the pediatric patients suffering from traumatic brain injury at Allied Services Rehabilitation in Wilkes Barre, Pa. ... Pocono completes the first half of this year's 22-race campaign. Four of the final 11 races are on tracks visited earlier: Iowa, Kentucky, Martinsville and Texas.