Pocono Raceway defies logic. Its three-turn dilemma screams growing pains. Yet, that’s not the case for some. Often, first-timers fare just fine.
Take Denny Hamlin, the prime example in rookie success at Pocono. In 2006, Hamlin’s rookie season, he swept the Pocono races – winning each from the Coors Light Pole. In the first, he led 83 laps. In the second: 151.
Or sample Carl Edwards’ Pocono debut. In 2005, Edwards had already collected his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He entered Pocono with that one win, and marched his way through the field to win in his first Pocono start after starting 29th.
So, that might give some hope to Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Danica Patrick, neither of whom have raced at Pocono.
Patrick turned laps at Pocono last week during a test session and looks to become the first female to score a top-10 finish there in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Janet Guthrie is the only female to race in the Sprint Cup series, with a top finish of 11th in three starts.
Stenhouse, who has finished in the top 20 in each of the last six races but has yet to score his first career top-10 finish, leads the rookie standings by four points over Patrick.