What do Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have in common?
Answer: All are winless at Pocono Raceway.
Martin, who’ll make his 53rd Pocono start on Sunday, posted his seventh second-place finish in last year’s spring race. That set an unfortunate record – most runner-up finishes at a single track without a win. Martin’s first Pocono visit came in 1982.
Kenseth was unable to conquer Pocono as a Roush Fenway Racing driver. An 0-for-26 drought could end this weekend as Kenseth – already a three-time winner in 2013 – drives the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. JGR cars have visited Pocono’s Victory Lane nine times.
The JGR connection hasn’t helped Busch master the 2.5-mile Pennsylvania layout. Busch has four DNFs – three by accident – in 12 trips to Pocono, where his average finish is 19.2. Busch has been second twice but failed to finish either race a year ago. His 63 laps led are second fewest (to Indianapolis) on a series track.
Harvick’s Pocono drought is a head scratcher. He’s working a streak of 16 consecutive lead-lap finishes and 21 overall, the latter number the Bakersfield, Calif., veteran’s best on a series track. His team, Richard Childress Racing, last won at Pocono with Dale Earnhardt in 1993.
Earnhardt Jr. won a pole and finished second in his final start with Dale Earnhardt Inc. in 2007. His modest string of three top-10 finishes – Junior’s best with Hendrick Motorsports – ended with last summer’s 32nd-place finish in a weather-shortened event won by teammate Jeff Gordon. Earnhardt, however, led both Pocono races a year ago, the first time he’d led back-to-back events at the track since 2003.