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In the Aftermath of Pocono
9 June 2010
Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch finished 1-2 in Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Pocono and are now 1-2 in the latest Sporting News Power Poll. Hamlin and Busch have won six of the past nine races and show no signs of letting up.
1. Denny Hamlin (last week: 5th) Another win at Pocono gives Hamlin four victories in the past nine races. He did a great job of patiently negotiating traffic at the end.
2. Kyle Busch (1st) Pocono was never a very good track for old Kyle. New Kyle ran second and showed patience doing it.
3. Kevin Harvick (3rd) Harvick is still driving like a championship contender, but as it stands, he is 30 points behind Hamlin in Chase points. And that gap looks like it'll increase.
4. Kurt Busch (2nd) Busch fell a lap down twice at Pocono and seemed as surprised as anyone by his sixth-place finish.
5. Jeff Burton (8th) Anyone else starting to think this is the RCR car to beat? Burton had another top-10 car, and he actually finished there, too.
6. Clint Bowyer (12th) Our criticism from last week still holds—when are the top fives coming?
7. Jimmie Johnson (14th) Speaking of top fives … Johnson got his first since mid-April at Texas. Is he back? We'll see this week at Michigan, where he has been dominant of late (when not running out of gas).
8. Carl Edwards (13th) Despite the new FR9 engine, Edwards wasn't a contender. But he got the most out of his run at Pocono.
9. Matt Kenseth (6th) Mr. Consistency: Kenseth's 17th-place finish was his 13th top 20 in 14 starts.
10. Jeff Gordon (4th) Gordon was never a factor for the win at Pocono, but he didn't deserve to be gobbled up in the last-lap crash.
11. Tony Stewart (20th) Great pit calls earned Smoke a third-place finish. Now he is one point out of the top 12 with some of his best tracks coming up.
12. Joey Logano (15th) Whether contact from Harvick was intentional, there's no disputing the two have a history. If Logano wants payback, that will be fun.
13. Ryan Newman (10th) Newman finished a respectable 14th, while his teammate/owner finished 3rd. The two Stewart Hass cars have not scored top 10s in the same race in 2010.
14. David Reutimann (11th) Over the past six races, Reutimann has scored more points than Johnson, Gordon and Burton.
15. Juan Pablo Montoya (24th) Montoya scored a much needed top 10. To make the Chase, he needs to make up 173 points in 12 races.
16. Mark Martin (9th) Martin was not a factor at a track that has been good for him. And that's something we've been saying a lot lately.
17. Jamie McMurray (7th) McMurray started slowly at Pocono but was making good progress when a late wreck wiped him out. It's still every other weekend for McMurray.
18. AJ Allmendinger (19th) AJ was the highest-finishing Ford and the only one in the top 10, much to the chagrin of teammate Kasey Kahne.
19. Greg Biffle (16th) That was a hard hit—in the car and in the points.
20. Martin Truex Jr. (18th) Truex slipped another spot in the points with a 25th at Pocono, but he's still within 100 of the final Chase spot.
21. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (23rd) Junior failed to capitalize on his third-place starting position, but he was up on the wheel. Strategy and pit stops need work.
22. Paul Menard (22nd) Menard is ranked 21st. At this same point in 2009, he was ranked 33rd.
23. Sam Hornish Jr. (NR) Hornish led 16 laps, by far the most of his career. His previous best was three laps led at the spring Talladega race last season.
24. Brad Keselowski (21st) Pocono yields another midpack finish. Keselowski has no top 10s and five top 15s in 14 Cup races in 2010.
25. Regan Smith (25th) Smith's average finish in the first seven races: 26.7. Next seven races: 23.8. It's 19.5 in the past four. You take your victories where you can get them.
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