Raceday: Your guide to Sunday's Party in the Poconos 400

dscott@charlotteobserver.comJune 8, 2013 

Three Things to Watch

1. There's not a lot of familiarity with the track, with rain washing out qualifying and practice on Friday. Drivers were able to practice Saturday, but that was it for their track time before Sunday's green flag. And there's still a feeling-out process after the track was re-paved last year.

2. Can Tony Stewart go back-to-back after winning last week at Dover? His average finish at Pocono over the past eight years is 9.4, tied with Jimmie Johnson for best on the circuit.

3. Danica Patrick races for a first time at Pocono. She's 20th in the points standings and doesn't have a top 10 since the season-opening Daytona 500.

Observations

• Although it had stopped raining and NASCAR's new Air Titan track drier was able to do its thing, there was still the prospect of "weepers" (water leaking up onto the track) affecting Saturday's practice and ARCA race. Stewart complained about them during practice.

• Pocono shortened both its races from 500 to 400 miles in 2012. That move is still welcomed, making what had seemed to be an interminably long day at one of NASCAR's biggest tracks much more manageable.

• Juan Pablo Montoya doesn't make many appearances in the media room, but he was refreshingly candid and funny on Friday when asked to talk about the re-start situation with Jimmie Johnson at Dover. His best line, when told Johnson had said Montoya had found a loophole in the re-start rule: "Wow, I'm that good?"

Notes

• Gil Martin, crew chief for Kevin Harvick, will be at Sunday's race after attending the funeral of his father Saturday.

• Here's how things shook out in Saturday's final practice session: Kurt Busch led the way at 175.333 mph, followed by Johnson, Carl Edwards, Stewart, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, Paul Menard, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Michael McDowell and Kyle Busch.

• TNT begins the six-race portion of its broadcasting season at Pocono. ESPN/ABC will pick up the rest of the season beginning at Indianapolis on July 28.

• Stewart scolded the media for starting rumors about problems in his Stewart-Haas Racing shop before his victory last week at Dover.

"The people starting the rumors never came to us and said, 'Hey, we're hearing this. Is this a possibility or anywhere on the radar?' It was pretty disappointing to have to go put somebody else's fire out."

• Saturday's Nationwide Race at Iowa was a "stand-alone" - not running at the same track on the same weekend as a Cup race. Joey Logano was the only Cup driver scheduled to run in both races.

Fantasy racing picks

David Scott

Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch

Just the facts

Party In The Poconos 400

Where: Pocono Raceway, Long Pond, Pa.

Track type: 2.5-mile, asphalt, banked triangle.

Race distance: 160 laps or 400 miles

Green flag: 1:18 p.m.

Weather: Mostly sunny with high in the upper 70s.

TV: TNT

Radio: Motor Racing Network

David Scott: 705-358-5889; Twitter: @davidscott14

More racing news, blogs, photos and more at www.ThatsRacin.com.

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