Five drivers to watch at Pocono

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Here’s who you should keep an eye on this weekend with the Sprint Cup Series at Pocono Raceway:

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

After back-to-back runner-up finishes at Texas and Bristol in April, Earnhardt has failed to post a top 10 in the last five races. But he’s been stout in recent years at Pocono where’s he collected two wins, five top fives, and eight top 10s since 2011 (10 races). The “Tricky Triangle” is a good place for him and the No. 88 team to get things together.

Martin Truex Jr.

The Coca-Cola 600 winner heads to Pocono to defend his win last spring. He threatened to sweep when the series returned to Pocono later in August, but was one of several front-runners that ran out of fuel in the closing laps (he wound up 19th). Considering how fast he and his Joe Gibbs Racing “partners” have been everywhere, expect Truex to contend this weekend at one of NASCAR’s big horsepower tracks.

Kyle Larson

Pocono is another place where Larson is steady. He’s posted a 9.0 average finish in his first four starts, including finishes of eighth and 12th in the 2015 races. If his recent surge in performance continues, he can contend again for his potential first career Sprint Cup win — or at least a strong finish to cut into his playoff deficit (-38 points behind 16th place).

Jimmie Johnson

Johnson has had a solid record of late at Pocono. Since 2011, he’s posted a 9.4 average finish (including a win in Spring 2013) there, while also leading the series in laps led (221). He’s also gained the second-most points among active drivers at Pocono during that span (356), trailing only Dale Earnhardt Jr. (371)

Kevin Harvick

Before his engine failed early last August, Harvick had finished runner-up in the previous two Pocono races. The 2.5-mile track is one of four on the current Cup schedule where he’s yet to win (the others being Texas, Kentucky, and Sonoma). But in the midst of another stellar season, he can definitely check this one off the list on Sunday.