Denny Hamlin has to Excel at the Pocono Raceway

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Last week at Dover, Denny Hamlin got caught up in an accident and finished the race 34th all but eliminating any chance of making the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup. This week is arguably his last chance to get in it. This week NASCAR returns to Denny Hamlin’s favorite track the Pocono Raceway for the Party in the Poconos 400.

The Pocono Raceway is another of those tracks on the NASCAR schedule that is not like any other. The Tricky Triangle, only has three turns. Each one is different than the other. There is 14 degrees of banking in turn 1, 8 degrees in turn 2 and 6 degrees in turn 3.   It is a big track like Daytona and Talladega. It is 2.5 miles in length. This track at times acts just like a road course and at other times it is kind of like Indianapolis Motor Speedway but missing a turn. The race is 400 miles or 160 laps.

Denny Hamlin has to win at least two races and move himself up into the top 20 in points. He currently is 26th in points but more importantly 74 points from being in the top 20. He must put together a couple of wins and a bunch of top fives to have a chance.

They call Pocono Raceway the Tricky Triangle because it is a difficult track for drivers but somehow Denny Hamlin took too it right away. He not only got his first Sprint Cup Win here but that same year he swept both races. He also won again in 2009 and 2010.

It’s one of the most challenging, and really the hardest race track on our schedule before they paved it because of how bumpy it was and the multi-groove there and every corner was different.” Hamlin said, “Now, it’s just become one of those new asphalt, hard tire race tracks where track position is total key and you have to have the fastest car.

To say Denny Hamlin is good at Pocono is an understatement, his driver rating of 115.1 is almost 10 points better than Jimmie Johnson‘s of 107.6. Denny and Jimmie also lead all active drivers with a 10.7 and 9.0 average finish. Denny used to have a better average finish but he had a 29th place finish in the rain shortened race last year.

If Denny is to have any chance of making the Chase he has to take advantage of those tracks he excels at.  When the day is done at Pocono we will know if Denny has any chance of making the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

If you can’t make it to the Pocono Raceway this is the first race of the season that will be televised by TNT. Sunday June 9th starting at 12 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for RantSports.com.

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary, or on Facebook, Pinterest, and Google.

Top 12 Driver Rating at Pocono
Denny Hamlin………………………. 115.1
Jimmie Johnson…………………… 107.6
Kurt Busch………………………….. 103.7
Jeff Gordon………………………… 100.9
Tony Stewart…………………………. 98.6
Carl Edwards………………………… 97.4
Ryan Newman……………………….. 95.4
Mark Martin…………………………… 94.4
Kasey Kahne………………………… 91.4
Matt Kenseth………………………… 90.7
Kevin Harvick………………………… 89.6
Jeff Burton…………………………… 87.1
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2012 races (16 total) among active drivers at Pocono Raceway.


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