Preview: The Pocono 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Race at Pocono Raceway

Who will tame the Tricky Triangle for the Pocono 400?

byT. Walker| UPDATED Jun 2, 2018 4:00 PM
Preview: The Pocono 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Race at Pocono Raceway
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Three turns! Monster Energy NASCAR Cup drivers are preparing to tackle ‘The Tricky Triangle,’ one of the most challenging tracks on the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing’s circuit. Named for its three sharp turns, the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway in the Pocono Mountains is the toughest track NASCAR Cup Series drivers will compete at all season.

Pocono Raceway has three distinguished turns and one of the longest frontstretch in motorsports. Each turn at Pocono is patterned after a turn from a different race track. Known as the ‘Tunnel Turn,' turn 1 at Pocono Raceway has 14-degree banking and resembles Trenton Speedway, while turn 2, with its 8 degrees banking, is a replica of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Turn 2 is where much of the action goes down thanks to an unassuming transition. Turn 3 has slightly less banking (6 degrees) and is very similar to a turn at America’s Legendary Oval, the Milwaukee Mile track. Shifting, strategy and the ability to make adjustments during the race at Pocono will prove to be the only way to tame the triangle-shaped race track.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Schedule for the Pocono 400:

Pocono 400 (Follow live)

The Place: Pocono Raceway

The Date: Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Time: Approximately 2 p.m. ET

TV: Fox Sports 1, 12:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Hashtag: #Pocono400

Distance: 400 miles (160 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 50), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 100, Final Stage (Ends on Lap 160)

Press Pass (Watch live)

Post-Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race: 5:00 p.m. ET

LONG POND, PENNSYLVANIA - JUNE 02: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M's Red White & Blue Toyota, practices for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 2, 2018 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania., Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Starting Lineup

(Position, Driver, Manufacturer)

1. Ryan Blaney, Ford

2. Kevin Harvick, Ford

3. Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet

4. Martin Truex Jr., Toyota

5. Kyle Busch, Toyota

6. Kurt Busch, Ford

7. Joey Logano, Ford

8. Ryan Newman, Chevrolet

9. Clint Bowyer, Ford

10. Denny Hamlin, Toyota

11. Chase Elliott, Chevrolet

12. Austin Dillon, Chevrolet

13. Kyle Larson, Chevrolet

14. Alex Bowman, Chevrolet

15. Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet

16. William Byron, Chevrolet

17. Brad Keselowski, Ford

18. Daniel Suarez, Toyota

19. Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet

20. Paul Menard, Ford

21. David Ragan, Ford

22. Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet

23. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford

24. AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet

25. Erik Jones, Toyota

26. Matt Kenseth, Ford

27. Chris Buescher, Chevrolet

28. Cole Custer, Ford

29. Ty Dillon, Chevrolet

30. Michael McDowell, Ford

31. Ross Chastain, Chevrolet

32. Matt DiBenedetto, Ford

33. Landon Cassill, Chevrolet

34. Aric Almirola, Ford

35. Cole Whitt, Chevrolet

36. Gray Gaulding, Toyota

37. JJ Yeley, Chevrolet

38. Derrike Cope, Chevrolet

Past 10 Winners at Pocono Raceway

(Year, Driver, Manufacturer)

2008, Kasey Kahne, Dodge

2009, Tony Stewart, Chevrolet

2010, Denny Hamlin, Toyota

2011, Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet

2012, Joey Logano, Toyota

2013, Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet

2014, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Chevrolet

2015, Martin Truex, Jr., Chevrolet

2016, Kurt Busch, Chevrolet

2017, Ryan Blaney, Ford

The past 10 winners above represent the first race of the year at Pocono Raceway. The Monster Energy Cup Series started racing at Pocono twice a year in 1974. Since 1982, NASCAR’s premier series has raced at the Tricky Triangle twice a year. Veteran NASCAR Cup driver Matt Kenseth leads all other active drivers with thirty-six starts at Pocono. Kevin Harvick has the second most starts at the Long Pond, Pennsylvania track with thirty-four Cup Series starts.

A Busch or a Harvick or a Blaney?

The Tricky Triangle is anyone’s race to win. Momentum is on the side of Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick. The pair has won a combined nine of the thirteen NASCAR Cup races this season.

In thirty-four starts at Pocono, Harvick has not made it to Victory Lane, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t up for the challenge. Harvick has five wins, nine top-fives, and ten top-10s so far this season. Busch, who fulfilled a lifelong dream of winning the Coca-Cola 600 last weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway has four wins this season. He has not shown any signs that winning is not in his immediate future. With only one career race win in the Cup series at Pocono, which he received last year, Busch is looking for back-to-back wins at Pocono.

All signs lead to both Busch and Harvick winning more races, including Pocono; however, should we expect a veteran driver to take the checkered flag or will we witness one of NASCAR's young drivers tackle the 2.5-mile track? Remember, pole-sitter Ryan Blaney got his first and only NASCAR Cup Series career win at the triangle-shaped track last year.