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Friday, June 6, 2008

Gibbs drivers will lead the pack at Pocono

Pocono has always been a mixed bag for me.

There have been some great races there, including the one in 2000 when Jeremy Mayfield knocked Dale Earnhardt out of the way to take the checkered flag, then used Earnhardt’s own line about “just wanting to rattle his cage” in the post-race interview. But too often, I have found myself eager to nap during the races at this big triangular track.

Pocono is a track that boasts the longest straightaway in all of NASCAR, so horsepower will play a big part in who does well on Sunday. Experience is another key factor, as most younger drivers take a few years before they really figure out this place.

One exception to that rule is Denny Hamlin, who won his first two races at Pocono in 2006 and finished in the top six in both races last year. Considering how powerful the Gibbs cars are this year, it’s hard to bet against him winning this weekend. Assuming he’s not completely drained from his cross-country trips, Kyle Busch will probably give him a run for his money, as there’s no sign of that train slowing down. My dark horse pick is Jeff Gordon, who’s been solid at Pocono throughout his career and has been improving his performance as of late. Should the Gibbs drivers have any trouble, look for him to step up and take the win.

It’s almost time for NASCAR’s first trip of the year to the rolling Irish Hills of the village of Brooklyn. Anyone who has not taken a trip to Michigan Speedway should really try to get out to one of the two races this year, or even just a support race or qualifying day. MIS provides good, wide-open racing and a great experience overall. Some of my best NASCAR memories have nothing to do with the track, and everything to do with camping at MIS for the weekend and enjoying some of the best times of my life. There are very few things in life more valuable to our sanity than taking a few days out of our hectic lifestyles every once in awhile to disconnect from the world and just relax and have fun. MIS is a great place to do that.


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