There are many unique aspects to a race track, whether it is the banking, the surface or even the line one uses. However, this weekend NASCAR is at a place that is literally unlike any track on the circuit.
Surrounded by some of the finest forest areas in the state, the Sprint Cup Series is up in the mountains of Pennsylvania, visiting the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway.
Only three corners make this track work, giving it the nickname the "Tricky Triangle." Three different straightaways, all different lengths. All three corners are banked different. Speeds will reach over 200 mph at some points, but drivers treat the track as a road course.
There's not many comparisons to other tracks on the circuit to use as reference.
Of course, having a strong motor that also is able to stretch the fuel to the very end has been huge over the last few years. More often than not, that is what this track comes down to.
No writers were able to capitalize on the fuel mileage last weekend, but can they do that at Pocono is a different story. Let's take a look at the picks for Sunday's 5-Hour Energy 500:
Misan Ayuka (SB Nation): Denny Hamlin
No reason given.
James Broomhead (The Checkered Flag): Denny Hamlin
Going with Hamlin for obvious reasons.
Kelly Crandall (Speedway Media): Carl Edwards
Hard to find a good reason to pick someone else when Edwards will be using the car he won with in Las Vegas and finished second with at Darlington.
Billy Fellin (Richmond Times-Dispatch): Denny Hamlin
After a very slow start to the year, this team has caught fire as of late and is only 1 point out of Chase territory in the points. That's some serious motivation going into one of Hamlin's best tracks. I'll take the 11.
Michael Hirshbein (Fan Vs. Fan): Kyle Busch
No reason given.
Christopher Leone (On Pit Row): Denny Hamlin
Look, I may be feeling some of the heat stroke from Pocono already, but I’m not an idiot. Not only is Hamlin the sport’s best Pocono driver, he also fits that label of “struggling” (well, somewhat; they’ve begun to pick it up recently), and will probably need some race wins to guarantee himself a Chase spot.
Kara Martin (Speedway Media): Denny Hamlin
No reason given.
Ryan O'Hara (Speedway Media): Tony Stewart
Definitely the driver to beat as he finished 3rd and 2nd here last year.
Dustin Parks (All About Horsepower): Greg Biffle
I had to go with a Roush driver, but just couldn't pull the trigger on our point leader. I opted to go with the Biff because he was the top man last summer at this track one week after Roush was in his plane wreck.
He also got the ball rolling on Ford's run back to the top as this year Ford has almost equaled their win total from all of last year. With that in mind, I opted to go with Biffle to keep the ball rolling once again.
Sal Sigala Jr. (3 Wide and 1 To Go): Kyle Busch
This may not be one of Busch's strongest tracks, but in order to become a Sprint cup champion Busch is gonna have to figure out how to run well at tracks he has problems at.
This season Busch is showing more patience, which is what it takes to defeat this triangle shaped nemesis of his.
Rob Tiongson (The Podium Finish): Greg Biffle
He's been very close to capturing a checkered flag in 2011, only to have a late race circumstance derail him from contending near the end of most races. However, the circuit returns to the scene of the Roush-Fenway Renaissance, which truly kicked off at Pocono last August.
Rest assured, when you think about the balance between horsepower and handling, there's no other logical choice but Greg Biffle and his No. 16 3M Ford Fusion at "The Tricky Triangle."
Standings following Kansas:
Kelly Crandall (478) Greg Biffle finished 10th (2)
Sal Sigala Jr. (456) Jeff Gordon finished fourth (2)
Christopher Leone (434) Greg Biffle finished 10th (2)
Billy Fellin (433) Jimmie Johnson finished seventh (2)
Rob Tiongson (430) Jeff Gordon finished fourth (1)
James Broomhead (414) Greg Biffle finished 10th (1)
Misan Ayuka (409) Jamie McMurray finished 29th (2)
Kara Martin (405) Tony Stewart finished eighth (1)
Dustin Parks (390) A.J. Allmendinger finished 27th (0)
Ryan O'Hara (388) Jeff Gordon finished fourth (1)
Michael Hirshbein (387) Kyle Busch finished 12th (2)
Final Thoughts: Some fans, and some drivers alike, feel that Pocono's races are entirely too long. Unfortunately, it's still going to be 500 miles around the triangle, and it will be a long three hours for everyone at the track.
Who will take the victory this Sunday? Tune in at 1 p.m. ET to find out.
The broadcast is switching this week, as FOX has done it's duty once again and will return in February. For the next six races, the folks at TNT will provide the coverage. Adam Alexander, Kyle Petty, and Wally Dallenbach will provide the play-by-play.
Summary of Picks: