Pocono: GM Racing preview

* Chevrolet dominates Pocono Raceway with 22 wins in 58 previous NASCAR Nextel Cup Series (NNCS) events LONG POND, PA - On Sunday, June 10th, Team Chevy drivers will tackle the tricky 2.5-mile triangular shaped layout located in the mountains...

* Chevrolet dominates Pocono Raceway with 22 wins in 58 previous NASCAR Nextel Cup Series (NNCS) events

LONG POND, PA - On Sunday, June 10th, Team Chevy drivers will tackle the tricky 2.5-mile triangular shaped layout located in the mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania known as Pocono Raceway. It's the popular Pocono 500, Round 14 on the 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series tour.

This will be the first of two trips the stock car circuit makes to Pocono each year. The second is slated for August 5 when the series returns for the Pennsylvania 500.

Long recognized as one of NASCAR's most competitive and unconventional race tracks, Pocono features three turns -- each with it's own degree of banking. Most drivers find that if they can master one section of the track, they will likely struggle in another.

Current series point leader Jeff Gordon, who drives the No. 24 Dupont Monte Carlo SS has mastered the unusual course three times in his Cup career (spring of '96 & '97, fall of '98), more than any other full-time driver on the circuit.

Gordon posted a third place finish at the last Pennsylvania 500 and looks forward to racing the Monte Carlo SS there again this week. "It is a very unique track; and now that we don't shift, it is not as unique as it used to be," he said. In looking ahead to running the Impala SS full time next season, he thinks Pocono will continue to be tough. "Pocono is probably going to be the most interesting track of all of them. It is already challenging as it is. With that (new generation) car, it is going to be extremely challenging."

Denny Hamlin swept both Pocono races in 2006 in the No. 11 FedEx Monte Carlo SS. Some are calling him the king of Pocono and he is ready to continue his rule with yet another win there on Sunday. "We'll take the same car back and hopefully try to do the same thing and get a win one way or another," said Hamlin, who is fourth in the points. "Things change from one year to the next. That car has been wrecked and run really well since then, so who knows what we've got when we go back."

Hamlin credits his crew chief and car set-up for his success at Pocono. "I'm not sure why we took to that race track as fast as we did. I think a lot of it was race car more so than myself. I think just with Mike (Ford)'s experience at that race track, he knew how to set up a race car. I was able to take the reins from what he had already built."

Defending NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, has also swept both events at Pocono. He took his No. 48 Lowe's Monte Carlo SS to victory lane there twice in 2004. What does it take to get around such an oddly shaped track? "I have had good years there where we have shown up and we couldn't do any wrong and have won. There have been other times where we miss it and it is so tough to figure it out and if you are off a little bit there, it really shows up and you feel like you are way off in left field. It is a tough place and very challenging. I have to admit that I liked it a lot more when we were down-shifting; it made the track a lot more exciting and entertaining for the drivers."

Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell / Pennzoil Monte Carlo, posted a top five finish in the Pennsylvania 500 last year and is feeling more confident this time around. "Pocono has been a pretty good race track for us and we've been gaining momentum as we go back every time. It's got a lot of it's own character, to say the least, with three different turns. Turn 1 is really bumpy and the tunnel turn with the big curve now you can go through there but you can make a mistake pretty easy. Turns 3 and 4 are as flat a corner as we race on. So it's definitely got its own characteristics."

Most of the Team Chevy drivers agree on one thing: The tunnel turn at Pocono is the biggest challenge of the quirky course.

"The tunnel turn is the toughest just getting through there and carrying the speed that you need to carry," added Harvick. "It's harder now than it was because it's not as forgiving. It used to have a flat curb on the inside, but now it's got a mountain on the inside of it and if you hit it, it tears the left-side skirt off and knocks you up the race track and you've got a good chance of hitting the wall. So it's not a very forgiving corner."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson , Denny Hamlin