Matt Kenseth, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Matt Kenseth, Roush Fenway Racing Ford

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Pocono Raceway this weekend, for the running of the August 5th Pennsylvania 400, the 21st of 26 races in the Sprint Cup regular season.

Pocono is unique in all of NASCAR, the only track in the series with just three corners. And each of the three corners was modeled after a corner at another track: Turn 1 features 14 degrees of banking and was modeled after the long-defunct Trenton Speedway; The Tunnel Turn has 9 degrees of banking like Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Turn 3 features 6 degrees of banking like the Milwaukee Mile.

The three-turn Pocono track was repaved prior to the first race this year and the results were astonishing: Joey Logano’s pole run of 179.598 miles per hour smashed Kasey Kahne’s old track record of 172.533 mph. Entrance speeds into Turn 1 approached 210 mph.

The good news for the Blue Oval Boys is that there’s a lot of commonality in setups between Pocono and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Given that the Fords were fast at Indy, they should be fast at Pocono, too.

And with just six races left in NASCAR’s regular season, the operant phrase for the Roush Fenway Racing squad is simple: “Just win, baby!”

Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle are second and third in points, respectively, each almost three full races ahead of 11th-place Kyle Busch in terms of points. For all intents and purposes, they are already locked into the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Now, their main motivation is to win races, because when the Sprint Cup regular season ends, each of the top 10 drivers gets his point total reset to 2,000, plus 3 bonus points for each regular-season race victory. As long as you make it into the top 10, it doesn’t matter where you finish in the top 10, just how many race victories.

Thus, Biffle and Kenseth can afford to gamble on pit strategy, fuel mileage or tires in the remaining regular-season races in search of race victories and bonus points. Winning pays bonus points; anything else doesn’t much matter. Finishing second or 22nd in a couple of races won’t change their Chase seedings.

Conversely, Carl Edwards is now 12th in points, 61 markers out of 10th. For Edwards to make the Chase is going to require winning at least one race, for it’s highly unlikely he can make up the point gap to 10th place.

“ I don’t think we are points racing anymore. I think we are officially racing only for wins,” said Edwards.

And he’s confident of doing just that.

“We have to take chances,” he said. “We have to go race. We can do that. We can race like that. It will actually be a big relief in a way because there is no other choice. We just go race for wins. I wouldn’t bet against us. We can do it.”

So it’s on to Pocono and a big week for the Blue Oval Boys. Just win, baby.

Source: Ford Racing