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NASCAR National Series News & Notes – Pocono Raceway

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: Pocono 400
The Place: Pocono Raceway
The Date: Sunday, June 2
The Time: 2:00 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 12:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 400 miles (160 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 50),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 100), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 160)
2018 Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr.

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Next Race: Pocono Green 250 Recycled by J.P. Mascaro & Sons
The Place: Pocono Raceway
The Date: Saturday, June 1
The Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 12:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 250 miles (100 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 25),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 50), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 100)
2018 Race Winner: Kyle Busch

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series 

Next Race: SpeedyCash.com 400
The Place: Texas Motor Speedway
The Date: Friday, June 7
The Time: 9 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 8:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 250.5 miles (167 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 40),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 80), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 167)
2018 Race Winner: Johnny Sauter

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Martin Truex Jr. on a roll

Martin Truex Jr. is not only the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ most recent winner – earning the victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday night – he is the defending winner of this week’s race, the Pocono 400 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway (2 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

The driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry collected his third win of the season last weekend and surely feels optimistic arriving at another of his best tracks. Truex won the 2015 Pocono early summer race leading a race-best 97 of the 160 laps and his victory in this race last year gives him three top-10s in his last four starts there. He’s led laps in four of the last five Pocono races. And he earned a front row start three consecutive times from 2016-2017 seasons – winning the pole in 2016 and starting on the outside of the front row both races in 2017.

Leading laps has proven to be a good indication of how strong the 2017 Cup champion’s team is at a race track. He’s led at least 100 laps in all three of his 2019 victories and in fact 434 of his season total 459 laps out front (94.5 percent) have been in his winning venues (at Richmond, Dover and Charlotte).

Truex is ranked sixth in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver championship points standings with two runner-up finishes (at Atlanta and Phoenix) in addition to his three wins.

Kyle Busch back on top

Kyle Busch reclaimed the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points lead from reigning series champion Joey Logano last weekend with his third-place finish at Charlotte. Busch has top-10 finishes in 12 of the season’s 13 races, including three victories (at Phoenix, California. and Bristol), a runner-up showing in the Daytona 500 and third place finishes at Las Vegas, Martinsville and Charlotte.

Busch has led laps in 11 of the 13 races and led 60 or more laps six times – topped by a 177-laps out front en route to his ISM Raceway win.

It may have taken Busch a little time to finally earn that first victory at the “Tricky Triangle” as Pocono is known, but he’s clearly on track now. Both his wins have come in the last three-race span. He won his first Pocono race in 2017 from the Busch Pole position.

The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry has led 239 laps in the last four Pocono races. He’s led 262 laps in the last seven races, which means 81 percent of his 325 Pocono laps led total came in that time frame.

Last year, Busch won in every series at the Pocono track – claiming his second Cup win and notching his first NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series victories as well.

Hamlin stands atop the mountain at Pocono

Denny Hamlin arrives at Pocono Raceway with fond memories and high hopes. He won his first two races at the track from the pole position in 2006 – a feat never accomplished at the storied race venue. He and Jimmie Johnson (2004) are the only active drivers to sweep a season’s races and Hamlin answered his work in 2006 with back-to-back wins in 2009-10. His four-win total is most in this weekend’s field.

The driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry could use a Pocono boost after a comparatively frustrating May. Hamlin won the Daytona 500 and answered with a trophy at Texas Motor Speedway in April. But after a fifth-place showing at Richmond in April, Hamlin has had four straight finishes outside the top-10 and is ranked seventh in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points.

Pocono may well be the panacea. Not only does he boast an overall top record there among his competitors, he has three top-10 finishes in his most recent five starts. He’s earned 16 top 10s and 10 top fives in 26 starts. And his 693 laps out front is second only to three-time race winner Jimmie Johnson (740 laps led) in this week’s field.

Hamlin has a 7.1 average starting position through 26 races – a phenomenal statistic – and an average finish of 12.6. Of drivers with more than one start at Pocono, only the late NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson has a better average starting position (4.667) but that came in only six starts compared to Hamlin’s 26.

“We had a really fast FedEx Toyota in Charlotte and it’s crazy how many cars we passed over the course of the entire race, repeatedly going from the back to the front,’’ Hamlin said. “Unfortunately, our finish doesn’t reflect how good of a car we had, but I’m proud of the speed our team brought to the race track and if we can bring that speed with us to Pocono, we will be in great position to win.’’

“Historically, the FedEx #11 has had some success and we will be entering Pocono confident that we can secure another victory.’’

Potential for Penske power at Pocono

The perennial powerhouse Team Penske team continues to wrestle with Joe Gibbs Racing for high honors this season.

Penske’s Brad Keselowski joins two JGR teammates (Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr.) with three wins through the opening 13 races of 2019. And Penske driver Joey Logano – the reigning Monster Energy Series champion – has exchanged the points lead with Busch for most of the season as well. He won at Las Vegas and has nine top-10s.  And the team’s newest addition, Ryan Blaney, has held his own with the veterans even as he looks for his first win of the season. All three drivers are ranked among the top 10 in the standings.

Pocono Raceway is not necessarily a place where Penske cars have dominated and collected trophies like they have elsewhere on the schedule. But each of the Penske trio has a Pocono victory and reason to feel optimistic this weekend as the series returns for the first of two summer stops.

Logano won from the pole position in 2012 driving for the JGR team. He has six top-10 finishes since the victory, but only two in the last seven races. In 2018, the driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford was ninth and 26th in the two races at Pocono.

Keselowski, who drives the No. 2 Team Penske Ford Mustang, had six consecutive top-five finishes – six of the last seven races – before last summer’s second event when he crashed in the waning laps of the race. He has three runner-up showings (2014,15,16) since his 2011 victory and his average finish is a stellar 11.7 in 18 starts.

There will always be a special place for Pocono in Blaney’s heart since he scored his first Monster Energy Series win there (in June 2017). He has five finishes of 12th or better in six starts, was sixth and 12th in the two races last year and boasts the same 11.7 average finish as his teammate Keselowski.

Kurt Busch brings confidence to Pocono

Chip Ganassi Racing veteran Kurt Busch brings a lot of confidence and a successful resume to Pocono Raceway. His three wins are second only to Denny Hamlin’s four wins among active drivers (Jimmie Johnson also has three wins).

In 35 starts at Pocono, Busch has 20 top-10 finishes, which also ties him with Johnson for most in the field. No one on this week’s grid has more previous top-five showings (14) than Busch at the track. And Busch is one of only four drivers currently ranked among the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ top-16 with multiple pole positions (two) and wins (three) at Pocono.

His 102.8 driver rating is third best in the field and second only to Hamlin among those drivers with at least 10 starts. He has top-10 finishes in four of his last six starts at the 2.5-mile Pennsylvania track.

Busch returns to Pocono this week looking for his first win of the season and first driving the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. He has eight top-10 finishes through the opening 13 races of 2019, including a runner-up showing at Bristol, Tenn. and a third place at Atlanta. He’s had top-10s in two of the last four races but is coming off a 27th-place finish in Charlotte.

Fans treated to impressive racing as 2019 season rolls on

The 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season has brought some great racing action to the fans this season. It has also brought some solid statistics to back up all the stellar racing everyone has seen through the first 13 races of 2019.

For starters, green flag passes for the lead (513) are up 56% compared to last season’s first 13 events (330). Three of the 13 races this season have produced record-setting green flag passes for the lead; producing more green flag passes for the lead than ever before – Las Vegas (47), Bristol (47), and Kansas (41).

Additionally, in the year-over-year comparison, 2019 has seen significant gains in green flag passes for the lead in nine of the 13 races this season; including all five of the 1.5-mile tracks (Atlanta, Las Vegas, Texas, Kansas and Charlotte).

Plus, nine of the 13 races this season have produced more green flag passes for the lead than the five-year average.

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— NASCAR —

But that’s not all, passing is up through the field as well; total green flag passes (45,590 GFP) through the first 13 races of the season are up 30% compared to 2018 (35,069 GFP). With nine of the 13 races in 2019 seeing an increase in green flag passes compared to last season; including the Daytona 500, Talladega, Martinsville, Bristol, Dover and four of the five 1.5-mile tracks (Las Vegas, Texas, Kansas and Charlotte).

Youth can move at Pocono

Several of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series most promising members of the sport’s “youth movement” certainly “move” well at Pocono Raceway. Three drivers in this weekend’s field scored their very first Cup win at Pocono – Denny Hamlin (2006), Chris Buescher (2016) and Ryan Blaney (2017).

Fourth-year series JTG Daugherty Racing driver Buescher, 26, is still looking for his second Cup trophy. However, third-year Cup driver Blaney answered his Pocono showing with a win in the Charlotte ROVAL Playoff race last fall. The Team Penske driver, 25, has five top-12 finishes in six Pocono starts and won the Busch Pole in this spring race last year.

Erik Jones, 22, of Joe Gibbs Racing, has three top-10 finishes in four starts at Pocono, including a third place in his 2017 Cup debut on the “Tricky Triangle.” He’s led laps in three of his four Pocono races. Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott, 23, has five top-10 finishes in six races at Pocono with a best showing of fourth place in his 2016 Pocono debut.

Richard Petty Motorsports driver Bubba Wallace, 25, made his Monster Energy Series debut at the track in 2017 and scored his best showing (16th) to date in that race. He led four laps in the spring race of 2018 before his No. 43 Chevrolet retired with engine issues. He does have a pair of top-10 finishes in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series at the track as well.

Sunoco Rookie update

JTG Daugherty Racing’s Ryan Preece continues to pace the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings by a slim eight points over Richard Childress Racing’s Daniel Hemric.

The last few races have been challenges for both. Preece, 28, has a pair of top-10 finishes on the year, highlighted by a third place showing at Talladega, Ala. four races ago. The driver of the No. 37 Chevrolet hasn’t had a top-20 since, however. His 25th-place finish at Kansas two weeks ago is best in that stretch. This will be his Cup debut at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. He finished 17th in the 2016 Xfinity Series race there – his only previous start on the track.

Hemric, 28, similarly had his best season showing at Talladega, Ala. – a fifth place and his only top-10 of the season. He also has struggled some in the past month, earning a best of 18th at Kansas in that time. The driver of the No. 8 RCR Chevrolet does have the most experience at Pocono’s Tricky Triangle, previously earning a pair of top-10 finishes in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition and another in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series.

Matt Tifft, who is ranked 31st in the points standings, is coming off the best rookie showing at last week’s Charlotte Motor Speedway. He finished 20th equaling his best result of the season (Phoenix). He has top-10 finishes in the Gander Trucks (2015) and Xfinity Series (2017) at Pocono.

Parade Laps: Insights ahead of this week’s driver media rotations

Six drivers from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series –  Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Erik Jones, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola, Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney, Go Fas Racing’s Corey LaJoie and Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Newman will be participating in this week’s media rotations at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway in advance of Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Pocono 400 (2 p.m., ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Chase Elliott, 23, of Dawsonville, Ga., earned his fourth consecutive top-five finish last weekend with a fourth-place effort in the season’s only 600-mile event at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Elliott scored his first win of the season on the Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway four races ago and is currently tied with Kevin Harvick in third place in the points standings. This week’s Pocono (Pa.) Raceway venue brings a lot of promise for Elliott and his No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team. He’s finished top-10 in five of his six career Cup starts at the track. His best showing was fourth place in his 2016 debut there in the June race, when he led 51 laps. Elliott finished 10th and seventh in the 2018 season races at Pocono.

Erik Jones, 22, of Byron, Mich., arrives at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway after an encouraging recent run in the schedule. Although he suffered a disappointing 40th place finish after an early race incident at Charlotte last week, he had back-to-back top-10 finishes in the two previous races. Pocono has historically been a good place for the Monster Energy Series’ 2017 Sunoco Rookie of the Year. He has three top-10 finishes in four Cup starts including a third place in this race in 2017. The driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has led laps in three of his four Pocono starts and has an impressive 11.2 average finish at the track.

Aric Almirola, 35, of Tampa, Fla., is on track to answer his career best season in 2018 with another attempt at a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship run. He has seven top-10 finishes in the opening 13 races – including six straight top-10s between the Atlanta and Texas Motor Speedway stops in March and April. His best finish is fourth (at Phoenix) and he’s already led 99 laps – half his career-best single season total only 13 races into the year. Almirola was seventh in the first Pocono (Pa.) Raceway event last year – his best-ever showing at the track.

Ryan Blaney, 25, of High Point, N.C., returns to a special venue in his young Cup career. Blaney won his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono (Pa). Raceway in this race in 2017. He won the Busch Pole for this race in 2018 and has finished 12th or better in five of his six starts at the historic track. His average finish is an impressive 11.7. He’s won a race in each of the last two seasons, but is looking for his first trophy of 2019. His best finish is third at ISM Raceway in Phoenix in March. The driver of the No. 12 Team Penske Ford is ranked ninth in the points standings with four top-five runs this season.

Corey LaJoie, 27, of Concord, N.C., has notched his season’s best results in two of the last four races – an 11th-place finish at Talladega, Ala. and 12th at Charlotte last weekend. The driver of the No. 32 Go Fas Racing Ford is still looking for his first top-20 showing at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. His best finish at the track is 25th in July, 2017.

Ryan Newman, 41, of South Bend, Ind., has had a promising early season in his first year driving the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford. He earned three consecutive top-10 finishes, finishing the streak with a season-best seventh place at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. He was 16th at Charlotte last weekend and looking to get back into Playoff position – he’s currently ranked 18th in the points standings. Newman has historically been strong on the 2.5-mile Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. He won the 2003 July race there from the Busch Pole position. He has 15 top-10 finishes in 34 career starts and between 2011-14 finished top-10 in seven of eight Pocono races. He finished 25th and eighth in the two races last season.

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Pocono Raceway: A ‘Tricky Triangle’ for Xfinity drivers

This week the NASCAR Xfinity Series heads to Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains for the Pocono Green 250 Recycled by J.P. Mascaro & Sons at Pocono Raceway on Saturday, June 1, at  1 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Pocono Raceway, with just three turns, is unlike any other track the series competes on.

This Saturday’s race marks the fourth time the series has visited Pocono Raceway. The three previous races have produced three different pole winners – Erik Jones (2016), Kyle Benjamin (2017) and Cole Custer (2018) – and three different race winners – Kyle Larson (2016), Brad Keselowski (2017) and Kyle Busch (2018). It will be interesting to see if both streaks of different pole and race winners will continue this weekend; as Cole Custer is the only one of those mentioned drivers entered in Saturday’s race, making a new winner a guarantee.

Custer is currently third in the series standings. He has made two series starts at Pocono posting one pole, one top five, two top 10s and an average finish of 6.0.

Reddick reassures his doubters he is championship material

Richard Childress Racing hit the jackpot when they signed Tyler Reddick to drive their flagship No. 2 Chevrolet Camaro this season. The Californian just picked up his second win of the year (Talladega and Charlotte) and has opened up his series standings lead to an impressive 65 points over second-place Christopher Bell.

While other drivers may have more wins, Reddick’s consistency has been unmatched. He is riding a streak of eight consecutive top-five finishes. Plus, he’s spent 14.5% of his time out front leading 306 laps this season – fourth most.  In 11 starts this season he has posted two poles, two wins, three stage wins, nine top fives and 10 top 10s.

Don’t expect the momentum to slow for the 23-year old. He made his series track debut at Pocono Raceway last season, starting ninth and finishing ninth.

Pocono might be the place Austin Cindric grabs his first checkered flag

Though the sample size is small, Team Penske’s Austin Cindric put on quite the performance in his NASCAR Xfinity Series track debut last season at Pocono Raceway. The 20-year old North Carolina native leads all series championship contenders in three key pre-race loop data categories at Pocono.

Top three contenders from each loop data category:

Driver Rating – Cindric (118.9), Cole Custer (110.2) and John H. Nemechek (100.1).

Average Running Position – Cindric (5.780), Custer (6.505) and Nemechek (8.060).

Fastest Laps Run – Cindric (17), Justin Allgaier (6), Custer (5).

In his second full season of Xfinity competition, Cindric is still looking for his first career trip to Victory Lane. But Cindric should be optimistic this weekend. Keep in mind, Brad Keselowski took this No. 22 team to Victory Lane at Pocono in 2017.

Cindric is currently fourth in the series points standings, the highest ranked driver without a win this season. In 11 starts in 2019, he has posted one stage win, four top fives and nine top 10s.

In his lone start at the ‘Tricky Triangle’, Cindric started third and finished fourth.

Jeffrey Earnhardt putting up career numbers in the limelight

He’s not the first, and definitely will not be the last, but Jeffrey Earnhardt is the latest to pool his resources for a part-time run with one of the top teams in the series to showcase his true talent, and it’s working.

Earnhardt is coming off his NASCAR Xfinity Series career-best finish (third) this past weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway driving the No. 18 Toyota Supra for Joe Gibbs Racing. His average finish this season is also a career-best of 11.6 and he has led a single season career-high 29 laps.

The grandson of NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt, Jeffrey has embraced the limelight and in doing so has posted one top five and three top 10s in just five starts this season.

Watch for Earnhardt this weekend, as he will be making his series track debut at Pocono Raceway in the No. 18 Toyota that Kyle Busch drove to the win in last season’s event.

Sunoco Rookie Update: Noah Gragson closes points gap on leaders

For the first time this season, JR Motorsport’s Noah Gragson won the Sunoco Rookie of the Race award this past weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway by being the highest finishing rookie (fourth) of the event. In the process, Gragson has closed the points gap on the rookie standings leader Chase Briscoe and second place John Hunter Nemechek.

Current rookie standings following Charlotte – Briscoe (369), Nemechek (-11), Gragson (-20), Justin Haley (-43) and Brandon Brown (-148).

Gragson, Haley and Brown will all be making their series track debuts at Pocono this weekend. Briscoe and Nemechek have each made one start at Pocono, both last season. Briscoe started sixth but finished 38th due to an incident. Nemechek started eighth, led four laps and finished seventh.

Monster-type presence on Saturday

Two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers, Austin Dillon and Ryan Preece, will be pulling double duty this weekend and competing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race, the Pocono Green 250 Recycled by J.P. Mascaro & Sons at Pocono Raceway on Saturday, June 1 (1 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Austin Dillon will be piloting the No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro with crew chief Alex Yontz this weekend at Pocono Raceway. Dillon has been helping Kaulig Racing as they are bringing their second part-time team up to speed. Dillon has made two series starts with the team this season, posting one top-five finish (Las Vegas).

Ryan Preece will be back in the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro with crew chief Tyler Moyer this weekend for his third series start of 2019. Preece has posted two top 10s in his previous two starts with JRM this season.

Preece made his series track debut at Pocono in 2016 driving for JD Motorsports – he started 19 and finished 17th. This weekend’s race will be Austin Dillon’s series track debut at Pocono Raceway.

Parade Laps: Insights ahead of this week’s driver media breakouts

Four drivers from the NASCAR Xfinity Series – JR Motorsport’s Michael Annett, Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick, Kaulig Racing’s Justin Haley and Motorsports Business Management’s Timmy Hill – will be participating in this week’s media rotations at Pocono Raceway leading into this Saturday’s Pocono Green 250 Recycled by J.P. Mascaro & Sons at Pocono Raceway on Saturday, June 1 at 1 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Michael Annett (No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro)

Birthdate: June 23, 1986

Driver’s Age: 32

Hometown: Des Moines, Iowa

Hobbies: Cycling, working out, boating

Team: JR Motorsports

Crew Chief: Travis Mack

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • In 2017, he made the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs and finished the season ninth in the championship standings.
  • In 2012, finished a career-best fifth in the series championship driver standings.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently 10th in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver championship standings, 186-points behind series standings leader Tyler Reddick.
  • Posted first career NASCAR Xfinity Series win in the 2019 season-opener at Daytona International Speedway, qualifying him for the Playoffs for first time since 2017.
  • In 11 starts this season, he has posted one pole, one win, two top fives, seven top 10s and an average finish of 10.3.
  • Has led the sixth-most laps this season (61).

Pocono Raceway Performance:

  • Has made two series starts at Pocono, posting a career-best finish of 13th in 2017.
  • Average start, 21.5 and average finish, 24.0

Tyler Reddick (No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro)

Birthdate: January 11, 1996

Driver’s Age: 23

Hometown: Corning, California

Hobbies: Riding ATVs, gaming, working on cars

Team: Richard Childress Racing

Crew Chief: Randall Burnett

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • Won the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship
  • Also won the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors; just third driver in series history to win the title in his rookie season joining Chase Elliott (2014) and William Byron (2017).
  • In 2017, he captured his first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory at Kentucky, while running a partial schedule. Currently has five series career wins.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Current NASCAR Xfinity driver points standings leader, 65 points ahead of second place Christopher Bell.
  • In 11 starts this season, he has two poles, two wins (Talladega, Charlotte), nine top fives and 10 top 10s – leads the series in both top fives and top 10s this season.
  • Leads the series in average finishing position this season with a career-best 4.4 in 11 starts.

Pocono Raceway Performance:

  • Made NASCAR Xfinity Series track debut at Pocono last season starting ninth and finishing ninth.

Justin Haley (No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro)

Birthdate: April 28, 1999

Driver’s Age: 20

Hometown: Winamac, Indiana

Hobbies: Muscle car restoration, sports car racing, surfing, fishing and hunting, triathlons,

mountain biking, fitness, graphics & design, anything competitive

Team: Kaulig Racing

Crew Chief: Nick Harrison

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • Signed with Kaulig Racing in the off season to run his first full season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2019.
  • Posted series career-best finish of fifth – last weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
  • Made NASCAR Xfinity Series career debut last season – making three starts for GMS Racing posting a best finish of 12th at Iowa Speedway.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently 11th in the NASCAR Xfinity driver championship standings, 194-points series standings leader Tyler Reddick.
  • In 11 starts this season, he has one stage win, one top five, eight top 10s and an average finish of 10.0.
  • Currently fourth in Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings, 43 points back from Chase Briscoe in the rookie standings lead.

Pocono Raceway Performance:

  • This weekend will be his series track debut at Pocono Raceway.

Timmy Hill (No. 66 Motorsports Business Management Toyota Supra)

Birthdate: February 25, 1993

Driver’s Age: 26

Hometown: Port Tobacco, Maryland

Hobbies: Redskins fan, spending time with family

Team: Motorsports Business Management

Crew Chief: Clinton Cram

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • This season marks the fifth full season he has competed for a championship in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
  • Finished a career-best 17th in the series driver championship standings in his rookie season (2011).
  • Has posted three top 10s in 170 Xfinity career starts – all at Daytona International Speedway.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Current 28th in the NASCAR Xfinity driver championship standings.
  • In 10 starts this season, he has posted three top-20 finishes.
  • Has an average finish of 27.5 this season.

Pocono Raceway Performance:

  • Has made two series starts at Pocono Raceway, posting an average finish of 34.5.

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series

Sauter chasing sixth win at Texas

He has to wait one more week to get back on the track, but when he does, Johnny Sauter will be looking to do what only one other driver has done – win six races at Texas Motor Speedway.

Sauter’s five wins at the 1.5-mile track in Fort Worth are second only to Todd Bodine’s six (Fall 2004, Fall 2005, Summer 2006, Summer 2007, Summer 2009, Summer 2010).

Two of Sauter’s wins at Texas came in this June race – including his first at the track in 2012 and his most recent as he returns as the defending race winner. He’s compiled 11 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes in 22 starts there – as well as starting on the pole four times.

Sauter is the lone multi-win driver at Texas to have piloted two different manufacturers into Victory Lane there. His first wins, a sweep of the 2012 races, came in a Toyota during his first go-round with ThorSport Racing.

His next three (Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Summer 2018) came in a Chevrolet for GMS Racing.

He now has a chance to win with a third different OEM emblem on his truck as he’s back with ThorSport Racing – but the team now competes in Fords.

Crafton yearning to win again in Lone Star State

The person who would probably least like to see Johnny Sauter reach six wins at Texas Motor Speedway next week is his ThorSport Racing teammate, Matt Crafton.

Because if Sauter is victorious at Texas, it’s one more race added on to Crafton’s current winless streak – which currently stands at a difficult-to-believe 43 races, dating back to Eldora in July of 2017.

The two-time NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck series champion (2013 and 2014) hasn’t been without his chances since then, however. He tallied seven top-five and 13 top-10 finishes in his winless 2018 season – the first for him since 2012.

So far in 2019, he is tied with Kyle Busch for top fives with five. He’s won the pole at the most recent two races on the schedule (Charlotte, Kansas) – both are 1.5-mile circuits like Texas.

And his record at Texas isn’t too shabby, either. He has a pair of wins – both in the June race…2014 and 2015 – as part of 15 top-five and 26 top-10 finishes in 37 starts. Therefore, it’s entirely probable that Crafton can find a way to guide his No. 88 Ford back to Victory Lane when the series returns to action in the SpeedyCash.com 400 on Friday, June 7 (9 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

No rest for Harrison Burton

Even though the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series is on a break this weekend, that doesn’t mean all of the drivers took the time off.

The ARCA Menards Series joins the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the “Tricky Triangle” of Pocono Raceway this weekend. And with that, Gander Trucks regular Harrison Burton will be competing in the No. 20 Toyota for Venturini Motorsports on Friday evening in the General Tire #AnywhereIsPossible 200 (5:30 p.m. ET on FS2).

Burton is the defending winner of this June Pocono race for the ARCA Menards Series. He then went on to finish fourth in the July edition of the race last year. Those two races mark his only experience at the 2.5-mile venue.

Overall, he has competed in 14 ARCA races – recording three wins.

In the Gander Trucks series, he has a pair of top fives and four top 10s through the opening eight races of 2019, piloting the No. 18 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Crew chief spotlight: Scott Zipadelli looking to repeat as champion

In 2018, Scott Zipadelli led the little team that could, Hattori Racing, to the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series title with driver Brett Moffitt at the wheel.

But if he and Hattori are to repeat, they will have to do it with a new driver as this year Austin Hill is piloting the No. 16 Toyota. And they are off to a good start, winning the season opener in Daytona to lock themselves into the eight-driver Playoffs.

The win was Zipadelli’s eighth atop the pit box in his five seasons as crew chief in the Gander Trucks – and was his first with a driver other than Moffitt. The duo recorded a win with Red Horse Racing in 2016 at Michigan, the first series victory for both. And then went on to tally six wins during the championship run last year.

Now with Hill, the team has a pair of top fives and five top 10s through the opening eight races of the season. Hill’s previous efforts in the Gander Trucks netted him a single top-five and six top-10 finishes last season in his first full-time campaign.

Zipadelli has a pretty good track record in the Gander Trucks series at the next track – Texas Motor Speedway. He’s been at the helm for nine races there, producing a pair of top fives and six top 10s.

He will have a bit of work to do at Texas next weekend, as the team’s finish in March was a hit to Zipadelli’s average finish. Prior to 2019, his average finish with a driver at the 1.5-mile circuit was a 9.6. A 27th-place effort in the first visit to the track this season dropped his average to 11.6.

— NASCAR —