The second half of the regular season for the Sprint Cup Series hits a lot of unique tracks during the 13-week stretch.  There's hallowed ground, fast speedways, short tracks, and a few road courses along the way.

To start the summer part of the season is a track that is almost three in one.  Each corner modeled after a different track, and each straightaway is different in length.  One year ago, the track debuted both new pavement and a solar energy power source, the only track to use such power.

In an area surrounded by forest, and sometimes delayed because critters decide to make their way onto the track, lies the Pocono Raceway.

The traditional kickoff to the summer tour, it's already believed to be the fastest track the new car will see yet, and even more track records will fall like the Berlin wall.

Knowing this, the writers were preparing, and have locked in their choices for this week.  Now, take a look at who all 13 writers chose for victory in the Party In The Poconos 400:


Misan Akuya:  Tony Stewart

Well, well, well look who has finally showed up?  Tony Stewart.  Just in the nic of time too.  The first race in June he wins with an impressive pass on the outside by a desperate Juan Pablo Montoya.

Stewart's season up until then had been pretty awful.  He was just getting things turned around with a seventh place finish in the 600.  But with a win in hand Smoke might be ready get his team back in 2011 form.

In 28 starts at Pocono Stewart has two wins, 11 top-fives, 20 top-10's, and two poles.  Safe to say Stewart has a shot this weekend.

Rob Blount:  Joey Logano

For some reason Logano has taken to Pocono Raceway really well. He’s been very strong there as evidenced by his victory there in this race last year.

I can guarantee that this race has been circled on his calendar. He needs to climb up through the pack to get to the Chase. Now his when his ascent starts.

James Broomhead:  Denny Hamlin

No reason.

Kelly Crandall:  Jimmie Johnson

He's gotta get back the one in Dover that he gave away.

Billy Fellin:  Jeff Gordon

Thought about going back to back Hamlin picks but I've got to go with the master of the Tricky Triangle, the 24 car.

Six wins for him there and I think he makes it 7.

Michael Hirshbein:  Kyle Busch

No reason.

Christopher Leone:  Denny Hamlin

I've got no luck in these things.  I don't know.  Let's see what happens.

Kara Martin:  Denny Hamlin

No reason.

Ryan O'Hara:  Jeff Gordon

Finished third at Darlington, had a top-3 car with a phantom debris caused accident at Charlotte, and another top-3 at Dover.

He has momentum and he will get another win at Pocono this weekend.

Dustin Parks:  Jeff Gordon

The issues recently with the TRD engines have kept me away from picking any of the Gibbs drivers; I cannot take the risk.  So, have to go with what I know, and that's who consistently has been the best driver at Pocono.

In 2011, Gordon got his fifth win at Pocono in the same paint job he's running this weekend, which was the first win for DuPont in the black and red flame scheme.  Now with Axalta on the car, I think history will repeat itself.

Sure it's a different name, but it's a familiar look...Big Daddy is gonna bring it home.

Patti Rodisch:  Jeff Gordon

No reason.

Sal Sigala Jr:  Brad Keselowski

This week Sal was dealing with a lot of outside things beyond his writing, and almost thought about walking away because it was becoming too much.  But, thanks to some encouraging words from other writers, he has decided to stay the course.

Sal wants to thank everyone for their kind words, and is glad to call all these writers his friends and colleagues.

Rob Tiongson:  Jeff Gordon

What's that? I'm going with the guy who won because of rain last August?  Yes, I am.  Did you also know that all-time, Driver No. 24 has won at Pocono on five occasions?  Thought so.

Time to bring those "new" Axalta Performance Coatings colors to Victory Lane!


Standings following Dover:

Patti Rodisch (474) Jimmie Johnson finished 17th (0)

Rob Tiongson (461) Kyle Busch finished 4th (1)

Billy Fellin (437) Denny Hamlin finished 34th (1)

Rob Blount (422) Matt Kenseth finished 34th (1)

Dustin Parks (420) Jimmie Johnson finished 17th (0)

Kelly Crandall (409) Jimmie Johnson finished 17th (0)

Ryan O'Hara (408) Jeff Gordon finished 3rd (0)

Sal Sigala Jr(387) Denny Hamlin finished 34th (0)

Kara Martin (383) Kyle Busch finished 4th (0)

Michael Hirshbein (374) Kyle Busch finished 4th (2)

James Broomhead (369) Matt Kenseth finished 40th (1)

Misan Akuya (322) Matt Kenseth finished 40th (0)

Christopher Leone (303) Denny Hamlin finished 34th (0)


Final Thoughts:  This track for years was a 500-mile marathon, because it seemed as though the race took so long to complete, it made track officials and NASCAR decide to shorten it by 100 miles.  In any case, having a fast car is one thing, but it would not be surprising to see fuel mileage once again come into play.

It still means laps take a long while, and when it comes down to the final laps, being able to coast and save can often be as important as hitting the throttle.

It also means a change in TV coverage.  Pocono is the first weekend for the crew of TNT as part of their summer series of races.  Coverage on Sunday kicks off at Noon ET with "Countdown to Green."  An hour later, Adam Alexander, Wally Dallenbach and Kyle Petty will have the call in the booth.


Summary of Picks:

Jeff Gordon-5

Denny Hamlin-3

Kyle Busch-1

Jimmie Johnson-1

Brad Keselowski-1

Joey Logano-1

​Tony Stewart-1