Kevin Harvick has almost had a perfect weekend in northeastern Pennsylvania. The driver of the No. 4 Chevrolet has been fastest in all three practice sessions at Pocono Raceway. In qualifying, he was fastest in the first two rounds but then evidently wound up fifth in the third and final round. Other than that mishap in the final round, Harvick has been perfect.
In final practice for Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race Harvick put down a quick lap of 175.974 mph. In the first practice on Saturday morning, the No. 4 laid down a lap of 175.658 mph. He had two-tenths of a second on Kyle Larson who was second-quick in final practice.
Between both practices eight out of the ten quick laps were laid down by the same drivers. Denny Hamlin was fifth in the first practice and finished final practice in the 11th-position. The other change was Kyle Busch who was tenth in the first session and thirteenth in the final practice.
It looks like the 400-mile race at Pocono on Sunday will come down to three teams. Stewart-Haas Racing, Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing have dominated the weekend thus far in Pocono.
The two Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolets have also showed speed as they both finished the final practice in the top 10. However, the No. 1 team did change radiators prior to final practice. Those two drivers will start from 14th and 15th respectively on Sunday.
There were some drivers showing their displeasure with their race car.
“I don’t like anything we have done,” said Dale Earnhardt Jr. in describing his car during final practice.
Earnhardt is the defending winner at Pocono and has looked fast all weekend, but his team will need to improve on their car because on Friday he was happy with his No. 88.
The Furniture Row Racing team brought a new chassis to Pocono this weekend after running the same one three consecutive weeks. This one looks to be just as good as the other one, Truex has been fast all weekend long and he finished final practice in the sixth position, the lowest he has been on the speed chart all weekend long.
Then there are those teams, who are struggling all weekend long.
The Michael Waltrip Racing Toyotas have been low on the speed-chart in every practice session. David Ragan will start from the 21st position on Sunday as fellow teammate Clint Bowyer will start 23rd. Both of these teams will need to make changes as they try to make their way into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
After a top-five run last weekend at Dover, Aric Almirola hasn’t had a good weekend. He was 24th quickest in the first practice on Saturday but only 28th quick in final practice. Pocono has never been one of Almirola’s better tracks but right now he sits 14th in points and needs to maintain momentum from last weekend.
However, whoever wins this race will more than likely have the best strategy because many teams run this race backward like a road course. That might be the only way that a team can beat Harvick and his Stewart-Haas Racing team.