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NASCAR National Series News & Notes – Pocono Raceway

NASCAR Cup Series – Race 1
Next Race: Pocono Organics 325 in partnership with Rodale Institute
The Place: Pocono Raceway
The Date: Saturday, June 27
The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: FOX, 3 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 325 miles (130 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 25), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 77), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 130)
2019 Race Winner: Kyle Busch

NASCAR Cup Series – Race 2
Next Race: Pocono 350
The Place: Pocono Raceway
The Date: Sunday, June 28
The Time: 4 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 3:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 350 miles (140 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 30), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 85), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 140)
2019 Race Winner: Denny Hamlin

NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: Pocono Green 225 recycled by J.P. Mascaro & Sons
The Place: Pocono Raceway
The Date: Sunday, June 28
The Time: 12:30 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 12:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 225 miles (90 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 20), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 40), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 90)
2019 Winner: Cole Custer

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series
Next Race: Pocono Organics 150 to benefit Farm Aid
The Place: Pocono Raceway
The Date: Saturday, June 27
The Time: 12:30 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 12:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 150 miles (60 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 15), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 30), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 60)
2019 Race Winner: Ross Chastain

NASCAR Cup Series

NASCAR Cup Series readies for a doubleheader at Pocono Raceway

While the condensed schedule following the COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in back-to back races at the same track over a course of several days, this weekend at Pocono Raceway will mark the first time in the NASCAR Cup Series’ Modern Era (1972-Present) the series will run a pair of races at one track in consecutive days. First up will be the Pocono Organics 325 in partnership with Rodale Institute this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, followed by Sunday’s Pocono 350 at 4 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

The last time the NASCAR Cup Series raced on back-to-back days was on August 27-28, 1971, but the events took place at two different tracks – the first of the two races was at Columbia Speedway in Columbia, South Carolina, on Aug. 27 and the event was won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty. The second race was at Hickory Speedway in Hickory, North Carolina, and won by Tiny Lund.

On June 25, the starting lineups for the Pocono Organics 325 in partnership with Rodale Institute (Saturday’s race) will be randomly drawn and announced on FOX Sports 1’s Race Hub from 6-7 p.m. ET.  The Pocono Organics 325 will be 130 laps (325 miles) and the first stage will be 25 laps, the second stage will be 52 laps and the final stage will be 53 laps. Kyle Busch won this race last season becoming the eighth different driver to post consecutive wins at the track (July 2018-June 2019); joining Bobby Allison (1982 sweep and June 1983), Bill Elliott (1985 sweep), Tim Richmond (1986 sweep and June 1987), Bobby Labonte (1999 sweep), Jimmie Johnson (2004 sweep), Denny Hamlin (2006 sweep and 2009-2010) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2014 sweep).

Then following post-race inspection of the first Cup race at Pocono, the starting lineups for the Pocono 350 (Sunday’s race) will be released. The lineup will be set by inverting the top 20 finishers in the first race and the drivers that finished 21st-40th will start in the position they finished the first event. The Pocono 350 will be 140 laps (350 miles), the first stage will end on lap 30, the second will end on lap 85 and the final stage will end on lap 140. Denny Hamlin won the second (July) Pocono race last season, his fifth series career Pocono victory.

NASCAR & the Tricky Triangle

Opened in 1968 as a three-quarter-mile track, Pocono Raceway held the first race on the 2.5-mile track in 1971. The first NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway was on August 4, 1974, and the event was won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty (Dodge, 115.593 mph). In total, Pocono Raceway has hosted 84 NASCAR Cup Series races producing 46 different pole winners and 36 different race winners. NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott and Ken Schrader are tied for the series-most poles at Pocono with five each. NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon leads the series in wins at the 2.5-mile raceway with six victories.

Of the 36 previous series Pocono winners, 11 are entered this weekend, led by Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin with five victories; including winning the series’ most recent visit to Pocono last July. If Hamlin wins this weekend he can tie or surpass NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon for the series-most wins at Pocono Raceway with six trophies. Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in wins at Pocono Raceway with 17 victories – Jeff Gordon (six), Tim Richmond (three), Jimmie Johnson (three), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (two), Kasey Kahne (one), Geoff Bodine (one) and Terry Labonte (one). Joe Gibbs Racing has the second-most series Pocono wins with 14 – Denny Hamlin (five), Kyle Busch (three), Bobby Labonte (three), Matt Kenseth (one), Joey Logano (one) and Tony Stewart (one).

Team Penske are winners top to bottom

And just like that, Team Penske wins their fifth race of the season to retake the series lead in victories for 2020 following Ryan Blaney’s valiant effort to hold off several hard charging competitors to win in another photo finish at Talladega Superspeedway. It was Blaney’s fourth career victory and second consecutive at Talladega. He is now the eighth different driver to win consecutive races at Talladega in the NASCAR Cup Series joining Pete Hamilton (1970 sweep), Buddy Baker (1975 sweep, 1976), Darrell Waltrip (1982 sweep), Dale Earnhardt (1990, 1993-94, 1999 sweep), Sterling Marlin (1995-96), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2001-2003) and Jeff Gordon  (2007 sweep).

“The whole year really, but the past month and a half has been really good for us,” said Blaney following his win in Talladega. “We’ve had some really good runs.  We’ve had really fast cars, had a chance to win I feel like every race the last month and a half.“

With all three of Team Penske’s drivers having wins this season, they now have guaranteed spots in the Playoffs – Joey Logano (two wins: Las Vegas, Phoenix), Brad Keselowski (two wins: Bristol, Charlotte) and Ryan Blaney (Talladega) –  making this doubleheader weekend at Pocono a great opportunity to pad their stats as all three have previously won at the 2.5-mile raceway.

Heading into this weekend, Joey Logano is second in the driver standings, 23 points behind Kevin Harvick in the standings lead. Logano has made 22 series starts at Pocono posting one win (2012), four top fives and eight top 10s. In the two Pocono races last season he finished seventh in June and 13th in July.

With his win last week Ryan Blaney hopped two spots in the driver standings to third; just two points behind his teammate Logano in second and 25 back from the series standings lead. Blaney has made eight series starts at Pocono putting up four top 10s and grabbing his first series career win back in 2017.  In the two Pocono races last season he finished 12th in June and 10th in July.

Brad Keselowski is fifth in the driver standings following Talladega, 49 points behind Kevin Harvick in the standings lead. Keselowski has made 20 starts at Pocono posting one win (2011), 10 top fives and 12 top 10s. In the two Pocono races last season he finished runner-up in June and eighth in July.

Hot Streak: Joe Gibbs Racing has won the last three consecutive Pocono Cup races

In five of the last nine NASCAR Cup Series races at Pocono Raceway one team has been unstoppable – Joe Gibbs Racing.

Starting with Matt Kenseth’s win on Aug. 2, 2015, Joe Gibbs Racing has won five of the last nine NASCAR Cup Series races at Pocono Raceway including the last three consecutive – Kyle Busch’s win in July of 2017 and his back-to-back victories in July 2018 and June 2019 and Denny Hamlin’s victory last July.

Now as the series returns for a special doubleheader weekend at Pocono Raceway, two JGR drivers (Kyle Busch & Erik Jones) are still looking for their first wins of 2020. Busch, the defending winner of last season’s June Pocono race, is currently ninth in points, the highest ranked driver in the standings without a win this year. But Pocono has been particularly good to Busch as of late, in his last seven series starts at the track he has put up three wins and seven consecutive top 10s.

Busch’s teammate Erik Jones hasn’t won at Pocono Raceway yet, but he has put up some impressive performances in his six career starts, collecting four top fives and the series leading average finish of 8.3. Jones will need to claw his way back into postseason contention, as he dropped to 17th in the standings following Talladega – the first spot outside the Playoff cutoff. He is just one point behind Tyler Reddick in 16th.

Plus, let’s not forget five-time Pocono winner Denny Hamlin (2006 sweep, July 2009, June 2010 and July 2019) and two-time winner Martin Truex Jr. (June 2015, June 2018) will be in the mix this weekend as well. Hamlin leads the series in wins this season with three victories (Daytona, Darlington, Homestead) and will be looking to pad his series leading 18 Playoff points this weekend.

His teammate Truex also has a victory this season (Martinsville) and will look to get his first Pocono checkered flag for Joe Gibbs Racing. The New Jersey native’s previous two series wins at Pocono were with Furniture Row Racing, and he actually is one of just 11 drivers to accomplish the feat in multiple manufacturers (Chevrolet, Toyota); joining Kurt Busch (Ford, Dodge, Chevrolet), Bill Elliott (Buick, Ford), Darrell Waltrip (Buick, Chevrolet), Denny Hamlin (Chevrolet, Toyota), Geoffrey Bodine (Chevrolet, Ford), Harry Gant (Chevrolet, Oldsmobile), Kasey Kahne (Dodge, Chevrolet), Rusty Wallace (Ford, Pontiac), Terry Labonte (Ford, Chevrolet) and Tim Richmond (Pontiac, Chevrolet).

Lucky No. 6: Toyota has won the last five straight at Pocono

With Toyota drivers winning the last five consecutive races at Pocono Raceway in the NASCAR Cup Series, if they were to win this weekend they could tie or surpass Chevrolet for the series-most consecutive manufacturer wins at Pocono with six victories (August 2012 – June 2015).

Interestingly both streaks have a common denominator, Toyota’s win streak consists of four victories from Joe Gibbs Racing and one from Furniture Row Racing. Chevrolet’s win streak is built on five consecutive wins by Hendrick Motorsports and the sixth was added by Furniture Row Racing. And both FRR wins were with driver Martin Truex Jr.

Eight different manufacturers have won in the NASCAR Cup Series at Pocono; led by Chevrolet with 32 victories; followed by Ford with 23, Toyota (nine), Dodge (seven), Pontiac (six), Buick (four), Mercury (two) and Oldsmobile (one).

Six former Pocono winners still need a win in 2020

Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Chris Buescher, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman have all previously won at Pocono Raceway in the NASCAR Cup Series and are still looking for their first win of the 2020 season. And all six are looking to snap winless streaks that have grown to more than 10 races.

Last Series Win
Former Pocono Winners Last Win Date Races Since Attempts Since
Chris Buescher Pocono Monday, August 1, 2016 136 136
Ryan Newman Phoenix Sunday, March 19, 2017 117 114
Jimmie Johnson Dover Sunday, June 4, 2017 108 108
Matt Kenseth Phoenix Sunday, November 12, 2017 86 25
Kurt Busch Kentucky Saturday, July 13, 2019 30 30
Kyle Busch Homestead Sunday, November 17, 2019 13 13

Roush Fenway Racing’s Chris Buescher win came at the weather-shortened 2016 Pocono race, 136 events ago. Buescher returns to the Tricky Triangle hoping to snap the winless streak and rekindle some of his early success at the 2.5-mile speedway. Buescher is currently 19th in the driver standings, 40 points behind Tyler Reddick in 16th and final Playoff transfer spot, after posting one top five and three top 10s. Buescher has made eight starts at Pocono posting a win (2016) and an average finish of 19.6.

Buescher’s Roush Fenway Racing teammate Ryan Newman is looking to snap the second longest winless streak of his career in the Cup Series. The Indiana native’s winless streak has reached 117 races since his last trip to Victory Lane back in 2017. Newman is 25th in points heading into this weekend. He has made 36 starts at Pocono posting two poles, one win (2003), nine top fives and 15 top 10s.

Probably the most hard-to-believe winless streak in the series belongs to seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, who has won 83 times in his career but is currently riding a winless streak that dates back to Dover in 2017 – 108 races ago. Johnson is currently 11th in the series standings, 137 points back from Kevin Harvick in the standings lead. Johnson has made 36 series starts at Pocono posting three poles, three wins (2004 sweep, 2013), 11 top fives and 20 top 10s.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Matt Kenseth came out of retirement to drive the No. 42 Chevrolet this season. Kenseth last won in the NASCAR Cup Series 86 races ago (on the calendar) at Phoenix Raceway in 2017, however Kenseth has only participated in 25 races since that last win. Kenseth has made 38 series starts at Pocono, posting one win (2015), four top fives and 15 top 10s.

And last but not least are the Busch brothers. Kurt Busch’s last win came Kentucky Speedway last season – 30 races ago. His brother, Kyle concluded the 2019 season with a win at Homestead-Miami Speedway and the championship – 13 races ago. Now both Busch brothers head to Pocono looking for their first win of 2020. Kurt has made 37 starts at Pocono posting two poles, three wins (2005, 2007, 2016), 14 top fives and 20 top 10s. Kyle has made 30 series starts at Pocono posting four poles, three wins (2017, 2018, 2019), eight top fives and 15 top 10s.

Reddick bounces his way into the contention on the Playoff bubble

With Ryan Blaney’s name added to the wins list this season, eight drivers now have victories in the NASCAR Cup Series this year leaving just eight spots up for grabs to make the Playoffs on points. Taking a look at the Playoff bubble following Talladega Superspeedway, drivers continue to shuffle positions as the competitors from 13th to 21st in the standings are separated by just 70 points.

One of the most pivotal moves in the drivers standing last weekend was Richard Childress Racing driver Tyler Reddick’s hurdle of Joe Gibbs Racing’s Erik Jones to take the 16th and final Playoff spot in the points. Reddick not only sits in the final postseason transfer position, but also leads Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings as well.

This season Reddick has put up one top five and three top 10s. He will be making his series track debut at Pocono Raceway this weekend, but the Californian is no stranger to the Tricky Triangle. He has made two starts at Pocono in the NASCAR Xfinity Series posting a runner-up finish last season and an average finish of 5.5.

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Xfinity heads to Pocono Raceway

The NASCAR Xfinity Series heads north to Pocono Raceway for the Pocono Green 225 recycled by J.P. Mascaro & Sons on Saturday, June 27, 2020 at 12:30 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) to kick off a Sunday doubleheader with the Xfinity Series and NASCAR Cup Series.

Coming off an exciting race weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, the series will hit the pavement for 225 miles of hard racing at the “Tricky Triangle.”

Last weekend’s race was won by Kaulig Racing’s Justin Haley in the No. 11 Chevrolet with his teammate Ross Chastain in the No. 10 Chevrolet winning the weekend’s Dash 4 Cash installment.

The win marked the second of the season for the Kaulig Racing camp and automatically punches Haley’s ticket to the 2020 Playoffs. It was Haley’s seventh top-10 finish of the year and his first career victory in 47 Xfinity Series races. Haley led five times for 16 laps and started on the pole.

The race saw 12 different leaders and had 22 different lead changes. Chastain finished second, Jeb Burton finished third for JR Motorsports, Austin Cindric finished fourth for Team Penske and Brett Moffitt finished fifth for Our Motorsports.

Pocono has hosted only four NASCAR Xfinity Series races, the inaugural race was in 2016 and won by Kyle Larson for Chip Ganassi Racing. Erik Jones won the first pole award for the series at Pocono.

The four races have produced four different race winners and three different pole winners. Cole Custer won two of the four pole awards and is the only driver to have won the race from the pole (2019).

In 2019, there were six different leaders, the most of the four races run and it also had the most cautions (seven). The 2019 race has the closest margin of victory at 0.226 seconds.

Ford has two Xfinity Series wins at the track and Chevrolet and Toyota each have one. Each race was won by a different car owner, too.

Pocono Raceway is a 2.5-mile track with 14-degree banking in Turn 1, eight-degree banking in Turn 2 and six degrees of banking in Turn 3. The frontstretch is 3,740 feet, the backstretch is 3,055 feet and the shortstretch is 1,780 feet.

Sunday’s race will be 225 miles (90 laps). The first stage will end on Lap 20, second stage on Lap 40 and the final stage will conclude on Lap 90.

Dash 4 Cash finale at Pocono
The Dash 4 Cash program is back for the NASCAR Xfinity Series and this time the schedule is a little different compared to past years due to a revised 2020 schedule as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will wrap up this weekend at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, June 28 (12:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Dash 4 Cash kicked off at Atlanta Motor Speedway where Noah Gragson won the season’s first installment.

The second race of the Homestead-Miami Speedway doubleheader was the second installment and AJ Allmendinger grabbed the $100,000 bonus.

Last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, Allmendinger’s teammate Ross Chastain took home the money.

Pocono Raceway marks the finale for the 2020 Dash 4 Cash program and Justin Haley, Chastain, Alex Labbe and Austin Cindric are the four drivers competing for the $100,000.

Although Jeb Burton finished Talladega in a position that would qualify him to contend for the bonus at Pocono, he is not racing in this weekend’s race. Therefore Labbe rose into contention as the next-highest finishing Xfinity Series points racer who was also entered in Pocono.

Xfinity is making donation in each Dash 4 Cash race market to reaffirm their companywide commitment of connecting families, veterans and seniors to the digital tools necessary for navigating these challenging times.

At Pocono, the donations will go to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Boys & Girls Clubs give young people in need the developmental tools to achieve great futures as productive, responsible citizens in the community. This donation will help ensure these academic and character-building programs continue through the crisis, so young people have the tools they need to live healthy lifestyles and contribute to the community.

Here’s a brief summary on the Dash 4 Cash initiative so far:

  • NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers will compete for four positions in Dash 4 Cash events
    • Atlanta Motor Speedway: Noah Gragson, Chase Briscoe, Brandon Jones and Harrison Burton
    • Homestead-Miami Speedway (2): AJ Allmendinger, Noah Gragson, Justin Haley and Daniel Hemric
    • Talladega Superspeedway: AJ Allmendinger, Chase Briscoe, Brandon Jones and Ross Chastain
    • Pocono Raceway: Justin Haley, Ross Chastain, Jeb Burton and Austin Cindric
  • Of the four competing for Dash 4 Cash, the highest finisher wins the $100,000 prize

Dash 4 Cash Qualifiers for Pocono:

  • Justin Haley (No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet) – Haley will be making his second career Xfinity Series start at Pocono this weekend. Last season was his track debut and he finished ninth. Haley had two starts at the track in the Gander Trucks and finished fifth (2018) and 10th (2017).
  • Ross Chastain (No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet) – Chastain has a lot of experience at Pocono among all three series. Chastain has four starts in the Xfinity Series at Pocono and a best finish of 11th in 2018. In the Gander Trucks, Chastain finished 10th in his first start at Pocono, finished fifth in his second start and last season, he won the race.
  • Austin Cindric (No. 22 Team Penske Ford) – Cindric will be making his third start at Pocono this weekend. His first was in 2018 and he finished fourth and last season, he finished seventh. He made one start in the Gander Trucks at the track in 2017 and finished seventh.
  • Alex Labbe (No. 90 DGM Racing Chevrolet) – Labbe has made just one start at Pocono Raceway in the Xfinity Series, finishing 18th in 2018.

NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Playoff Outlook following Talladega

Rank Driver Points Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts. Pts. from Cutoff
1 Chase Briscoe 454 3 2 17 IN ON WINS
2 Noah Gragson 469 2 5 15
3 Harrison Burton 399 2 0 10
4 Brandon Jones 375 1 2 7
5 Justin Haley 385 1 1 6
6 Austin Cindric 426 0 2 2 212
7 Ross Chastain 422 0 0 0 208
8 Justin Allgaier 337 0 4 4 123
9 Michael Annett 296 0 0 0 82
10 Ryan Sieg 273 0 2 2 59
11 Riley Herbst 257 0 0 0 43
12 Brandon Brown 250 0 0 0 36
13 Myatt Snider 214 0 0 0 -36
14 Josh Williams 210 0 0 0 -40
15 Alex Labbe 202 0 0 0 -48

Justin Haley’s win last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway made him the fifth different driver locked into the Playoffs with a race win. He joins Chase Briscoe, Noah Gragson, Harrison Burton and Brandon Jones.

Austin Cindric is the highest-ranked driver in the Playoff points standings without a win, but his eight top 10s and six top-five finishes make it seem that a win isn’t far away for the driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford.

Myatt Snider is the first driver below the Playoff cutline currently with 214 points – 36 markers back from Brandon Brown in the final Playoff transfer spot (12th).

JR Motorsport’s Noah Gragson leads the Xfinity Series standings with 469 points.

Closer, closer for Cindric

Austin Cindric is still on the hunt for his first win in the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series season and Pocono Raceway suits him very well.

The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford has six top fives and eight top 10s so far this season. He has an average start of 7.6 and an average finish of 10.3 and he has led 238 laps.

He’s sitting in third in the points standings for the series – the highest-ranked driver without a win and he has run upfront – leading the third-most percentage of laps this season (12.2%) sitting behind a pair of JR Motorsports teammates Noah Gragson and Justin Allgaier.

This weekend’s Pocono 225 recycled by J.P. Mascaro & Sons on Sunday, June 27 (12:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will be Cindric’s third Xfinity Series start at Pocono.

In his series track debut, Cindric finished fourth at Pocono in 2018 and last season, he finished seventh. In both races, he started from third.

Cindric has the third-best average running position at Pocono, behind Cup Series drivers Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. Cindric has the third-best driver rating behind Keselowski and Busch at 105.6. He’s also sitting right behind them in third for the fastest laps run, too.

Ryan Vargas back in Xfinity Series

Ryan Vargas and JD Motorsports announced that Vargas will be back behind the wheel in the Xfinity Series for JD Motorsports this weekend.

Vargas competed in three races last season for the team at Iowa Speedway, Road America Sports Car Course and Phoenix Raceway. He hasn’t run a race so far this season, but had been helping out with the team. On race weekend, Vargas would help as a crew member, working on the car and helping during pit stops for the team. He also competed for JD Motorsports in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series during the COVID-19 pause in sports.

Now, this weekend at Pocono, the 19-year-old he will make his first start of 2020 at The Tricky Triangle.

In his three starts last season with the team, he had an average finish of 20.3 and a best finish of 17th at Iowa in July. Although the largest track he’s run on was the 1-mile oval of Phoenix Raceway, Vargas is ready to get started and get a good finish for the team.

“My goal is to gain as much experience as humanly possible on bigger tracks, and to do so we need to complete all the laps. Heading into Pocono this weekend with no prior experience on a track of that caliber is a little intimidating for sure, but I am confident in my team’s ability to put together a strong car capable of a good finish,” said Vargas.

Vargas will pilot the No. 15 Chevrolet with Cranio Care Bears, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to spread awareness and support to families and children that struggle with Craniosyntosis, as his primary sponsor as it is an organization close to his heart.

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series

Time for the Trucks to get Tricky

The NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series is back in action this weekend at Pocono Raceway for the Pocono 150 to benefit Farm Aid this Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET (on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

The series was off last weekend as the other two national series took to Talladega Superspeedway. This weekend’s race will mark the sixth of the season for the Gander Trucks.

Grant Enfinger is the only fulltime Gander Trucks driver to have won a race so far along with NASCAR Cup Series regulars Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott. This means that there’s only one 2020 Playoff position taken currently on wins.

Kyle Busch is the only driver to have won twice at Pocono (2015, 2018) and Ross Chastain is the most recent winner (2019).

The inaugural Gander Trucks race at Pocono was on July 31, 2010 and Elliott Sadler took home the victory.

Four of the races were won from the pole but none of the 10 races run were won from a starting position outside of the top six.

Chevrolet has five wins at Pocono while Ford has one and Toyota has four.

There are no current fulltime active drivers in the series with a prior win. Busch and Chastain are the only two drivers that are still running in the Gander Trucks on a part-time schedule with previous Pocono wins and Chastain is the only one scheduled to run this weekend for Niece Motorsports.

There have been 10 Gander Trucks races at Pocono with eight different pole winners and nine different race winners. William Byron was the youngest winner at 18 years, 8 months and one day in 2016. Kevin Harvick was the oldest winner in 2011 at 35 years, 7 months, 20 days.

Chastain holds the race record at 124.224 mph in 2019 and Austin Hill holds the qualifying record from last season’s race at 171.347.

Norm Benning, Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter have the most starts in the series at Pocono with 10.

Last season’s race had the fewest leaders with only two and had the most laps led by a race winner with 54. Busch has the most wins for a truck owner, too, with four.

Eyeing the Playoff Outlook Following Homestead-Miami

Rank Driver Points Wins Pts From Cutoff
1 Grant Enfinger 161 2 In On Wins
2 Austin Hill 209 0 77
3 Christian Eckes # 165 0 33
4 Ben Rhodes 161 0 29
5 Todd Gilliland 148 0 16
6 Zane Smith # 147 0 15
7 Johnny Sauter 140 0 8
8 Brett Moffitt 137 0 5
9 Sheldon Creed 135 0 3
10 Tyler Ankrum 133 0 1
11 Derek Kraus # 132 0 -1
12 Matt Crafton 132 0 -1
13 Raphael Lessard # 114 0 -19
14 Stewart Friesen 112 0 -21
15 Tanner Gray # 111 0 -22

With five NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series races in the books, it is time to take a look at the Playoff picture. Grant Enfinger’s two wins so far this season, has him atop the Playoff standings outlook as he is the only driver locked in on wins. That leaves nine spots still up for grabs.

Among the nine vying for a Playoff spot on points, series driver standings leader and Hattori Racing Enterprises driver, Austin Hill, has the most comfortable points cushion heading into the weekend break with 77 points up on the postseason cutoff.

Right behind Hill is Kyle Busch Motorsport’s rookie Christian Eckes, who is 33 points ahead of the Playoff cutoff following Miami. Eckes gained four spots in the standings in South Beach and also took the series Sunoco rookie standings lead in the process.  Zane Smith is the second rookie challenger inside the top 10 in points; currently 15 markers above the Playoff cutline.

Then down in the Playoff bubble hotseat sits Tyler Ankrum, 10th in the driver standings just one point ahead of 11th place Derek Kraus and 12th place Matt Crafton (both have 132 points) the first two spot outside the postseason cutoff. Ankrum scored his first top five (runner-up) of the season last weekend at Homestead-Miami to bounce him up two spots ahead of Kraus and Crafton and into the Playoff discussion.

Busy weekend ahead for Stewart Friesen

Stewart Friesen has quite the weekend ahead of him with three races in 24 hours including one at Pocono Raceway for the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series.

Friesen and the Halmar-Friesen Racing team as a whole will be running all the races to raise awareness and donations for local food banks during these trying times.

Friesen will start the weekend at Albany-Saratoga Speedway on Friday and then Pocono Raceway on Saturday followed by another race at Orange County Fair Speedway.

Halmar’s Chris Larsen announced that Halmar International will match the amount of Friesen’s dirt racing winnings on Friday at Albany Saratoga and Saturday at Orange County Fair Speedway. The money will be donated to local food banks and are in addition to the separate potential donation for the No. 52 truck at Pocono on Saturday afternoon.

There will be a $5,000 donation for a top-10 finish and $10,000 for a win.

Friesen’s top-10 finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway sent $5,000 to the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

The team is taking donations and with each donation of $100 or more, Halmar will match your donation and send you a Halmar Racing to Beat Hunger t-shirt.

Here’s a link to donate:

Austin Hill hunting for first 2020 win

Austin Hill, the current NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series points leader has had an extremely strong start to the season, but he is still looking for his first win of the season. He has two top fives and five top 10s to his name in five starts and has led 102 laps, the most of any fulltime Gander Trucks driver in 2020.

He is the only driver to have finished every Gander Trucks event in the top-10 and holds a 44-point lead over Christian Eckes in the points standings.

Last season, Hill started on the pole, but a clutch issue took him out of the race early and he finished 30th. He has four starts at the track with a best finish of 11th in 2017.

Rating the rookies

Christian Eckes still leads the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year standings with 165 points and two awards.

Zane Smith is right behind him with 147 points and two awards.

Derek Kraus is the only other rookie driver to win an award so far this season and he’s in third with 114 points.

Raphael Lessard is in fourth, Tanner Gray is in fifth, Ty Majeski sixth, Spencer Davis seventh and Tate Fogleman is in eighth.

This weekend will mark Eckes’ second start in the series at Pocono. His first was last season for Kyle Busch Motorsports and he started 13th and finished fourth. Eckes also won at Pocono last season in the ARCA Menards Series.

Smith will be making his Gander Trucks debut at Pocono this weekend for GMS Racing but did win at the track in the ARA Menards Series in 2018 and finished in the top-five in all four of his ARCA starts at the track.

Kraus, Lessard, Gray, Majeski, Davis, and Fogleman will all be making their series track debuts this weekend at Pocono.

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Trucks Series, Etc.

Brandon Jones returns to Gander Trucks: Brandon Jones will be back in a truck for the first time this season as he wheels the No. 51 Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) this weekend at Pocono. Jones, who scored his second career Xfinity Series win earlier this season in Phoenix, is scheduled to run four Gander Trucks events this season for KBM. He is looking for his first series victory. This will be his first start at Pocono.

“We’ve been so close in getting wins in the truck series. There were multiple races that we have been up front the entire time in races last year with KBM, so it would be really big for me to be in Victory Lane finally with these guys,” Jones said.

Chase Purdy in the No. 24: GMS Racing announced in early June that Chase Purdy would run five races for them in the Gander Trucks. He will make his debut this weekend at Pocono Raceway. In addition to Pocono, Purdy will run at Kentucky, both Kansas races and Talladega in the No. 24 Chevrolet. Purdy last competed full time in the ARCA Menards Series in 2018 and had 10 top-five and 14 top-10 finishes.

ARCA winners at Pocono: There are a handful of former ARCA Menards Series drivers that are currently running fulltime in the Gander Trucks and Xfinity Series that have a win to their name in the series at Pocono Raceway. Riley Herbst won the ARCA race at Pocono in 2017, while Harrison Burton won in 2018. Christian Eckes won in 2019. Zane Smith won at Pocono in the ARCA Menards Series in 2018.