HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. – The list of racetracks where Kyle Busch has yet to win in any of NASCAR’s top three divisions – Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck – is not long.
In fact, there are only three left on that list – Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, the site of Sunday’s Pocono 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Of the 28 tracks that will host NASCAR’s top three divisions in 2012, Busch has competed at every circuit but Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., and he has won at 24 of them.
Busch makes it no secret that Pocono has given him fits, as he has four top-10 finishes in 14 previous starts there, along with six finishes of 22nd or worse. But, three of those top-five finishes have come during his last four outings at the 2.5-mile triangle.
In fact, not only did the Las Vegas native bring home his best Pocono finish a year ago this month, he also started from the pole – his first at Pocono – and was beaten across the finish line only by teammate and Pocono master Denny Hamlin, who has four wins there to his credit. Last August, Busch lead 27 laps late in the race before equaling his career-best Pocono finish of second behind race-winner Brad Keselowski.
Despite the momentum Busch and the M&M’s team have gained in recent races at Pocono, Sunday’s race has two big factors that could shake up the outcome of the race. First, Pocono underwent a repaving project during the spring, and all teams will be able to test on the new surface Wednesday and Thursday this week before the official Friday-through-Sunday race weekend schedule kicks in. Also, for the first time in the history of Pocono Raceway, Sunday’s scheduled distance will be 400 miles – 100 miles shorter than the traditional 500-milers held there since the Sprint Cup Series took up residence at Pocono in 1974.
So, as the series heads back to the Pocono Mountains for Sunday’s Pocono 400, Busch, crew chief Dave Rogers and the entire M&M’s team will look to take the very same approach that has yielded three top-five finishes in the last four races there. They hope the added variables of a new racing surface and a shorter race distance help them find the extra little bit needed to make it to victory lane at Pocono for the first time.
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