2020 NASCAR Cup Series preview: Pocono 1

After spending the past six weeks racing in the south, NASCAR heads north to Long Pond, Pennsylvania for the Pocono Organics 325 at Pocono Raceway. This track is called the “Tricky Triangle”, with the track shaped like a triangle, and each lap is 2.5 miles. This will be the first of two races in the Cup Series this weekend at Pocono with the Pocono 350 on Sunday. This will be the first time since 1971 in which the Cup Series will race on back-to-back days.

It has been a crazy week for NASCAR. Bubba Wallace was informed by NASCAR that a noose was found in his garage at Talladega Superspeedway after Sunday’s race was rained out. Then, the FBI investigated and determined it was a rope to pull down the garage door before NASCAR did their own investigation and released a photo clearly showing it was a noose.

With all that happening, NASCAR raced at Talladega on Monday and it was an instant classic. Ryan Blaney won his second straight photo finish in overtime at Talladega, edging out Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to claim his first victory of 2020. Blaney, who won his first career Cup Series victory at Pocono in 2017, added to his strong start to the season with his seventh finish in the top five. He is third overall in the points standings and will start on the front row beside pole sitter Aric Almirola.

The biggest storyline to watch in this race is if the dominance of Joe Gibbs Racing can help push Kyle Busch to his first Cup Series win in 2020. JGR has won five of the last nine races at Pocono, including the last three. Busch won the July race in 2018 and the June race in 2019, with Denny Hamlin winning the July 2019 race.

2020 has not been kind to Busch in the Cup Series so far. He has two victories in the truck series and one in the Xfinity Series, but zero in the Cup Series. He hasn’t even won a stage through 13 races. While he has five top-five finishes and six top-10 finishes, a lot has gone wrong for him this season. He has suffered penalties, both pre-race and during the race. This causes him to lose valuable track position and spend most races this season playing catch-up. Busch will start fourth.

Another JGR driver that could really use a win is Erik Jones. Jones crashed his way into a top-five finish at Talladega last week but remains just outside the final playoff spot. Jones has three top-five finishes and six top-10 finishes. However, he has had multiple races with technical issues that push him toward the back of the pack. In his six races at Pocono, he has four top-five finishes. Winning this weekend would put him into the playoffs, which would be huge considering he currently sits outside the playoffs. Jones will start 19th.

Coverage for the race will begin at 3:30 p.m. EST. You can catch the race on FOX and the Motor Racing Network.

Starting lineup: https://therichreport.com/2020/06/25/nascar-cup-series-lineup-pocono-1/

Goodyear tire notes: https://www.jayski.com/2020/06/24/goodyear-fast-facts-pocono-3/

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