drivers to watch

Five drivers to watch at Pocono Raceway

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Keep your eyes peeled for these five drivers during the Sprint Cup race weekend at Pocono Raceway, which culminates with Sunday’s Pennsylvania 400 on NBCSN.

Matt Kenseth

With as much speed as Joe Gibbs Racing has right now, it’s tough to settle on one JGR driver to watch at a horsepower track like Pocono. But let’s go with the guy who won out in the fuel mileage madness that ended this race a year ago. After five consecutive finishes of 22nd or worse at Pocono between 2012-2014, Kenseth has found a handle on the Tricky Triangle with three consecutive top-10 finishes, including a seventh this past June.
Keselowski has cooled down over the last couple of races, but he’s still had a great middle stretch of the season (last 11 races: three wins,  eight top-10 finishes, 7.1 avg finish). And Pocono has been decent for him recently with three top-five finishes in his last five races there, including a third place effort in June.
Only three drivers have ever won a points-paying Sprint Cup race on their birthday – the aforementioned Kenseth, Kyle Busch, and Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough, who did it twice. With Larson turning 24 on race day, he’ll get a chance to join this unique little group. Larson has been solid at Pocono in the Cup Series (9.4 average finish), and he has past victories there in ARCA (2014) and the Xfinity Series (2016, rain-shortened).
After an impressive fourth-place showing at Pocono in June, Elliott comes back with his Hendrick Motorsports team struggling mightily. HMS has scored just two top-10 finishes over the last five races, and during that span, Elliott himself has had an average finish of 26.6 with multiple accidents contributing to that. It will be interesting to see how the rookie deals with the pressure of trying to turn things around at a track where he was a legit contender not long ago.
Following his win there in June 2015, Pocono has delivered bad luck to Truex. Last August, he was one of several leaders victimized by fuel woes with a handful of laps left. And this past June, another potential win was scuttled when he suffered a flat tire moments after he took the lead in the pits. But the speed has been there, and if Truex’s luck turns for the better, another Pocono win is a definite possibility.