Pocono: In the loop

'In The Loop' At Pocono Raceway First-Time Winners; Hamlin Feasts on Pocono DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 6, 2007) -- Whatever the reason, this time of year breeds first-time winners. The past two races -- at Lowe's Motor Speedway and Dover ...

'In The Loop' At Pocono Raceway
First-Time Winners; Hamlin Feasts on Pocono

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 6, 2007) -- Whatever the reason, this time of year breeds first-time winners.

The past two races -- at Lowe's Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway -- have resulted in Casey Mears and Martin Truex Jr. visiting Victory Lane for the first time in their NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series careers.

Last year at this time, Denny Hamlin grabbed his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup win at Pocono Raceway. Each earned their victory with the precision of a veteran winner, racking up impressive stats.

In fact, since the start of 2005, there have been seven first-time winners -- and each time their coming-out party earned high marks.

Below are the first-time winners since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, along with some key stats from that particular race:

Carl Edwards
Atlanta, 2005
Driver Rating: 124.6
Fastest Laps: 24
Laps led: 9
Quality Pass: 25

Kasey Kahne
Richmond, 2005
Driver Rating: 147.9
Fastest Laps: 105
Laps led: 242
Quality Passes: 5

Kyle Busch
California, 2005
Driver Rating: 135.8
Fastest Laps: 38
Laps Led: 95
Quality Passes: 29

Denny Hamlin
Pocono, 2006
Driver Rating: 137.1
Fastest Laps: 67
Laps Led: 83
Quality Passes: 43

Brian Vickers
Talladega, 2006
Driver Rating: 106.9
Fastest Laps: 2
Laps Led: 17
Quality Passes: 279

Casey Mears
LMS, 2007
Driver Rating: 110.8
Fastest Laps: 14
Laps Led: 6
Quality Passes: 69

Martin Truex Jr.
Dover, 2007
Driver Rating: 140.2
Fastest Laps: 107
Laps Led: 216
Quality Passes: 31

Of the first-time winners, Hamlin ranks third behind Kasey Kahne and Martin Truex Jr. in Driver Rating with his 137.1 in the 2006 Pocono 500.

But Hamlin saved his best for last -- or second.

Hamlin, who navigated the unique Pocono layout with a skill unexpected from a rookie, showed his first victory was no fluke. He built upon the success and completely dominated the second race at Pocono last season.

Hamlin's Driver Rating is a point off the perfect 150.0 maximum Driver Rating, which is even more impressive considering that success at Pocono Raceway is rarely automatic.

Below are the number of attempts it took a select group drivers before their first Pocono win:


- Jimmie Johnson -- Five tries
- Jeff Gordon -- Seven tries (finished 28th and 37th his first two attempts)
- Tony Stewart -- Nine tries

If Hamlin can repeat his Pocono success, he'll win his first race of 2007. A Hamlin win should come sooner than later, as his recent success would suggest:

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Casey Mears , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , Martin Truex Jr. , Brian Vickers , Carl Edwards , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch