The Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas have been quickest in just about everything this weekend at Pocono. Kyle Busch won the pole on Friday. Then on Saturday morning in opening practice the four teams swept the first four spots led by Carl Edwards. In final practice, it was much of the same except this time it was Busch again on top.
Ever since the cars were unloaded off of the haulers on Friday morning, the Gibbs teams have been the team to beat. In the final practice leading up to Sunday’s Cup Series race at Pocono all of the Gibbs Toyotas were in the top eight. Three of the four had some of the quickest 5 and 10 lap averages.
Edwards, who was quickest in the opening practice, wound up third in the final practice. He believes that Gibbs has the equipment this weekend to win.
“All of our JGR Toyotas are good,” Edwards said following the practice sessions. “Kyle’s been on a role lately and getting wins so hopefully we can continue that and get a win this week. Overall we are fast and it’s good.”
With everything going so well, there are some things that the team needs to work on.
“There are a couple of things balance wise that we need to improve on,” Edwards said. “You never know what type of race you are going to see here. We could have a long green flag run, things get spread out but usually this race is decided by a couple of late race restarts and ends in total chaos. We’ll just have to fight our way through that.”
Matt Kenseth usually struggles at Pocono, but this week it has been a different story. He qualified in the top 10 and in the practice sessions on Saturday he was second end eighth quick respectively. The 2003 Cup champion has never won at Pocono and is looking to change that after having disappointing runs at the “Tricky Triangle” since moving over to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013.
Denny Hamlin is the last member of the Gibbs stable. He is a four-time Pocono winner and was third and seventh in the two practices. Hamlin will look to pick-up his second win of 2015.
The Stewart-Haas Racing cars of Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick have also shown a lot of speed this weekend. Busch turned the second fastest lap in final practice while Harvick turned the fourth. However, Busch did have the best 10 consecutive lap average. Harvick was right behind him in that category.
Jimmie Johnson was the final car in the top five. Johnson has had a disappointing last three races, resulting in just one top 10 finish. The No. 48 finished third in June at Pocono and will look to seek his fourth win at the triangle.
Brad Keselowski was sixth quickest in preparation for the Windows 10 400 on Sunday. He has been one of the top cars all weekend long and is trying to pick up his second win of the season and second win at Pocono.
June winner, Martin Truex Jr. has improved throughout the weekend and he is trying to become just the ninth driver to sweep the two races at Pocono in the same season. Truex has struggled of late but with already clinching a Chase birth, Truex is playing with house-money this weekend.
Jeff Gordon finished his last ever practice session at Pocono in a disappointing 22nd. The No. 24 has not had the raw speed that he’s been looking for all weekend in his quest to become a seven-time winner at the Pocono Raceway.
Sunday’s race will have a lot of different strategy. It will be interesting to see if any team can stop Joe Gibbs Racing and their dominance over the last month.