At Pocono Raceway's quirky 2.5-mile triangular track — and with a new restart format that favors his brother Kyle — Kurt Busch looks to improve on his third-place standing in NASCAR Sprint Cup points.
Pocono is one of Kurt Busch's best tracks — he has seven top-five finishes there, including two wins and four seconds — and Sunday's Pocono 500 begins a two-race swing at speedways where he has been successful in the past. On June 14 the series moves to Michigan International Speedway where Busch also has two victories but lacks the consistency he has shown at Pocono.
"It's a period of the schedule where, if you can mount a good charge — if you can thrive while many of the teams are burning out — it certainly can pay big dividends down the stretch," said Busch, who trails series leader Tony Stewart by 71 points. "It can separate the men from the boys. That's for sure. With the great cars we're putting out there week in and week out, we're really looking forward to all the races this summer, and we're optimistic about being competitive in all of them."
Busch achieved a perfect driver rating of 150.0 in both his Pocono wins.
For the Pocono 500, NASCAR has adopted a double-file restart format that will keep the leaders up front and side-by-side when they take the green flag. The format was last used in the May 16 Sprint All-Star Race at Lowe's Motor Speedway, where Kyle Busch used it to his advantage before his car sustained damage in the frenetic final 10 laps.
NASCAR announced Thursday that it has decided to implement the double-file format (where the leader has the choice of inside or outside lane, and the third-place car always starts to the inside) starting this weekend at Pocono and continuing for the rest of the season.
Other story lines to watch include how Jeff Gordon's back pain, which caused him to withdraw from the Prelude to the Dream at Eldora Speedway before the event was postponed because of rain, responds to a few days' rest. After crashing his primary car in qualifying last week at Dover, Gordon finished 26th in Sunday's race at the Monster Mile and surrendered the championship lead.
Stewart also will be looking to bring his #14 Chevrolet to victory lane for the first time since acquiring ownership interest in what is now Stewart-Haas Racing.
Stewart, whose only win at Pocono came in June 2003, has posted six top fives, including three runner-up finishes, in his last eight races. Having moved to Stewart-Haas for the start of the 2009 season, Stewart is the first owner/driver to lead the Cup standings since the late Alan Kulwicki did so in 1992.
by Sporting News