Pocono: News of note, schedule

* Edwards, Kurt Busch Led Roush Ford Sweep in 2005 * Terry Labonte Set for 51st Pocono Start NEWS AND NOTES Three Points Gainers ... Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No 8 Budweiser Chevrolet), Jeff Burton (No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet) and Kevin ...

* Edwards, Kurt Busch Led Roush Ford Sweep in 2005

* Terry Labonte Set for 51st Pocono Start

NEWS AND NOTES

Three Points Gainers ... Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No 8 Budweiser Chevrolet), Jeff Burton (No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet) and Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet) each gained one position in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 at Dover. The improvements moved Earnhardt to fourth, Burton to seventh and Harvick to eighth. Despite a 12th-place finish, Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) lost two positions and dropped to ninth place in the standings. Everyone in the top 10 in points but for Gordon and sidelined Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet) posted top 10 Dover finishes.

Rudd Relieves Stewart Early ... Tony Stewart expects to run the full distance at Pocono Sunday. At Dover, 23-time race winner Ricky Rudd drove in relief for Stewart. He ended up finishing 25th, dropping Stewart from fourth to fifth in the championship point race.

Kenseth's Win Helps Ford Close Gap on Chevrolet ... Matt Kenseth's victory at Dover brought the "Blue Oval" to within 11 points of Chevrolet for the lead in the Manufacturer's Championship standings. The gap closed by three points to an 11-point lead for Chevrolet. Ford also expanded its lead over third-place Dodge by five points and now leads by a total of seven points. In the six NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races held at Pocono over the last three years, Chevrolet has three wins compared to two for Ford and one for Dodge.

Pocono Challenges ...

As one of the more unique tracks on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup schedule, Pocono Raceway's 2.5-mile triangular layout provides several challenges. Teams must juggle three different turns, three long straightaways and high engine stress in order to secure a good finish. Add negligible banking, and crew chiefs and drivers face a checklist of choices.

All three Pocono turns differ. Turn 1 has 14 degrees of banking. Turn 2 -- known as the "Tunnel Turn" -- has eight degrees of banking. Turn 3 has six degrees of banking. Because of the turns' individuality, teams usually select the one where they want their car to excel and factor that into setups.

Pocono's flat layout and length allows drivers to catch their breaths for a few seconds as they throttle down straightaways. Shifting, once a Pocono staple, has been eliminated by recent gear ratio limits. And although Pocono may be comfortable for drivers, it can wear out equipment. Brake systems take a beating in the turns, and long straightaways require high RPMs and engine stress.

Pocono's pit road is one of the roomiest on the series schedule. The track's length fosters long runs, which pressures crews to hit their marks, sometimes in consecutive green-flag pit stops. But length also cushions the effect of a long stop, or one for repairs; drivers have more time to beat the pace car off pit road and avoid losing track position.

Labonte Goes for 51st Pocono Start ...

Terry Labonte (No. 44 Kellogg's Chevrolet) is entered to attempt his 51st career Pocono start. Labonte has a Pocono record that includes two wins, seven top-5s and 21 top-10 finishes. Through 2005, Ricky Rudd had started a series-record 53 of the 56 races at Pocono. Rudd, now retired from full-time driving, is not expected to compete this weekend.

All-Time Leaders at Pocono ...

Among active drivers, Jeff Gordon and No. 88 UPS Ford driver Dale Jarrett lead the way for Pocono wins with three each. Bill Elliott is the all-time win leader with five, followed by Rusty Wallace with four. Mark Martin appears to be overdue for a Pocono win. He's finished second six times. In 38 starts, he also has a series leading 19 top fives and 27 top-10 finishes.

Gotta Believe ...

Carl Edwards qualified 29th for the 2005 Pocono 500, then went on to set a record for winning from the deepest starting position ever for a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event at the track. Edwards took the lead for the first time from Brian Vickers (No. 25 GMAC Chevrolet) at Lap 106, and held the top spot for 10 laps. After swapping the lead with Vickers, Edwards took the lead for good from Kurt Busch on Lap 187 to go on for the win in the 200-lap event. Vickers placed second followed by Joe Nemechek (No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet), Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet), and pole sitter Michael Waltrip, then in the No. 55 NAPA Chevrolet. Before last year, the deepest a Pocono NASCAR NEXTEL Cup winner started was when Terry Labonte started 27th and won the 1995 Pocono 500.

Doing Double Duty ...

Drivers competing full-time in both the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series face their first of three consecutive weekends when the two series have events at different speedways. NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers who are running both series full time include Kevin Harvick, Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard Ford), Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer (No. 07 Jack Daniels Chevrolet), Reed Sorenson (No. 41 Target Dodge), J.J. Yeley (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet), and Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx/Kinkos Chevrolet). Last year, Edwards was the lone driver to attempt the full-time double duty, missed one NASCAR Busch Series race (due to rain delay at Nashville), and finished third in series points. Currently, Kevin Harvick leads the NASCAR Busch Series point race on the strength of three wins.

Loop Data Update Heading to Pocono ... Matt Kenseth is second in series points, but leads the Driver Rating category (108.5), followed by Greg Biffle (103.7) and Jimmie Johnson (103.2). Biffle ranks first in the Mile Leaders category, having led a total of 1,101.56 miles this season. He is tied with Tony Stewart in laps led with 801. Kenseth is the leader in Average Running Position (10.279), followed by Mark Martin (11.196) and Jimmie Johnson (11.506).

Biffle continues his climb up the point standings after a rocky start to the season. He ranks 12th in points but has the second best Driver Rating of 103.7. Biffle tops the Miles Led chart with 1,101.56 miles led and has recorded the Fastest Lap on the track 394 times, more than anyone this season.

At first glance, it may appear that Mark Martin's passing statistics are not all that impressive, as he has the fewest number of Green-Flag Passes of all drivers in the top five, with 739. However, Martin is ranked second in the Average Running Position category (11.196) and is second in Average Starting Position (12.3) of drivers in the top five, meaning that he doesn't have many cars to pass on his way to the front of the field.

Setting the Field: Top 35 in 2006 Owner Points Locked In ... Teams ranked in the top 35 of the current 2006 car owner standings will be guaranteed starting positions each week.

Heading into Pocono, the No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge, owned by Ray Evernham and driven by Jeremy Mayfield, is ranked 35th in the car owner point standings. The No. 4 AERO Exhaust Chevrolet, owned by Larry McClure and driven by Scott Wimmer, held steady at 36th in points for the second straight week. The team did not qualify for the Daytona 500, but has since not missed a race while quietly completing 97.9 percent of available laps.

Rookie Update ... Through the season's first 13 races, Denny Hamlin continues to lead the Raybestos Rookie standings with 143 points. Clint Bowyer holds down the second spot with 129 points. Reed Sorenson jumped to third spot with 113 points followed closely by Martin Truex Jr. (No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) and J.J. Yeley. David Stremme (No. 40 Coors Light/Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon Dodge) is next with 90 points.

Hamlin had the best overall rookie performance last week at Dover, qualifying seventh and finishing 11th.

Pit Crew Spotlight: Pennsylvania NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Crew Members ... Donato "Guido" Colucci, front tire carrier and team trainer for Dave Blaney's No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge is from Pocono. Frank Kerr, the car chief for Robby Gordon's No. 7 Menard's/Harrah's Chevrolet, is from Bansalem, Pa.

Where In The World is Ken Schrader? ... If it's got gas, four tires and faces a green flag, Ken Schrader will hop in the cockpit and drive it. The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series' oldest competitor (51) just can't resist racing. Between last Sunday's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event at Dover and this Sunday's race at Pocono, Schrader drove the Wood Brothers Ford in a test session at Kentucky Speedway and then went racing at a short track in Poplar Bluff, Mo., Tuesday evening. Wednesday, Schrader and a large contingent of other top NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers were to appear Wednesday, June 7, at Tony Stewart's Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, for some dirt-track racing.

From the Archives ... Richard Petty won the inaugural NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway on Aug. 4, 1974. Petty swapped the lead with pole sitter Buddy Baker, along with Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison and David Pearson. The event was hampered by rain and restarts, and was ultimately stopped eight laps shy of the scheduled 200 laps due to darkness. The Petty Enterprises Dodge led the event on nine different occasions, and took the lead for good from Baker, driving Bud Moore's Ford, on Lap 148.

Fast Facts

Next race: Pocono 500 (Race No. 14 of the 36-race NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season)

The track: Pocono Raceway, Pocono, Pa.

The date/time: Sunday, June 11, 2:10 p.m. (ET)

TV: FOX, 1:30 p.m. (ET).
Radio: MRN/XM Satellite

Posted awards: $4,841,521

Race length: 500 miles, 200 laps
Track layout: 2.5-mile

2005 winner: Carl Edwards
2005 polesitter: Michael Waltrip

NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10: 1. Jimmie Johnson 2,011. 2. Matt Kenseth 1,937. 3. Mark Martin 1,795. 4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1,729. 5. Tony Stewart 1,718. 6. Kasey Kahne 1,715. 7. Jeff Burton 1,615. 8. Kevin Harvick 1,591. 9. Jeff Gordon 1,583. 10. Kyle Busch 1,572.

Practice/Qualifying Schedule: Friday -- Practice, 12:05 p.m. -- 1:35 p.m., Qualifying, 3:40 p.m. Saturday -- Practice 9:30 a.m. -- 10:30 a.m. Final Practice 11:05 a.m. -- 11:50 a.m.

-nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Matt Kenseth , Terry Labonte , Jeremy Mayfield , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Michael Waltrip , Ken Schrader , Kevin Harvick , Joe Nemechek , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Jimmie Johnson , Richard Petty , Kasey Kahne , Scott Wimmer , J.J. Yeley , Martin Truex Jr. , Brian Vickers , Carl Edwards , Bobby Allison , David Stremme , Clint Bowyer , Denny Hamlin , Reed Sorenson , Dave Blaney , Buddy Baker , Cale Yarborough , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin