FORD PERFORMANCE NASCAR: POCONO 2/IOWA 2 ADVANCE
All three of NASCAR’s top series will be in action this weekend with the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup and Gander Outdoors Truck Series competitors running at Pocono Raceway and the NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers at Iowa Speedway.
Kevin Harvick’s victory on Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was his first of the season and sixth for Mustang, competing in its inaugural Cup campaign. That clinches a Playoff spot for Harvick, who joins Team Penske drivers Brad Keselowski (3 wins) and Joey Logano (2 wins).
Here’s a look at Ford’s statistics at each track this weekend.
FORD IN THE MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES AT POCONO
· Ford has 23 all-time series wins at Pocono.
· The last two Ford wins at Pocono have been by first-time series winners – Chris Buescher (2016) and Ryan Blaney (2017).
· Bill Elliott got Ford’s first series win at Pocono in 1985 (season sweep).
FORD IN THE NASCAR XFINITY SERIES AT IOWA
· Ford has 8 series wins at Iowa.
· Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is the only driver to win both races in the same season.
· Austin Cindric scored the first series pole of his career at Iowa last year.
FORD IN THE GANDER OUTDOORS TRUCK SERIES AT POCONO
· Ford has 1 series win at Pocono (Ryan Blaney, 2013).
· Ben Rhodes has one career series pole at Pocono (2017).
· This will mark the 10th series race at Pocono.
SEVEN CUP DRIVERS IN PLAYOFF POSITION
With only six races remaining in the regular season, seven Ford drivers find themselves in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff positions. As noted above, winners Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick are assured spots while four others are currently in the top 16 of the point standings. Aric Almirola (9th) has a 102-point cushion while Ryan Blaney (11th) is 84 points ahead of 17th-place Jimmie Johnson. Ryan Newman (509 points) and Clint Bowyer (505 points) hold the final two spots with Bowyer being 17 points ahead of Johnson and Daniel Suarez.
BLANEY GETS FIRST CUP VICTORY
Ryan Blaney earned his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series two years ago at Pocono Raceway, giving the Wood Brothers their 99th all-time series win. Blaney held off Kevin Harvick over the final seven laps to win the Pocono 400 after overcoming a loose wheel only 19 laps into the event. He found himself in position to win after the caution came out with 19 laps to go. Kyle Busch opted to stay out while all of the other contenders behind him pitted, including Blaney who got four fresh tires and restarted fourth. A major battle between Busch and Blaney resulted, but the newer tires proved to be too much as Blaney eventually got by with nine laps to go. He couldn’t breathe easily, however, as Harvick started to reel him in, but could never pull alongside to challenge.
ELLIOTT SWEEPS IN 1985
Ford reached victory lane at Pocono Raceway in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for the first time on June 9, 1985 when Bill Elliott beat Harry Gant to win the Van Scoy Diamond Mine 500. Elliott was able to pass Gant with 11 laps remaining, shortly after a restart, to claim Ford’s first win at the facility. Elliott, who also started on the pole, was helped by four cautions over the final 25 laps and won for the sixth time as he led 32 of the 200 circuits. It marked the front end of what would eventually be a season sweep for Elliott at Pocono as he won a few weeks later on July 21.
KULWICKI’S FINAL WIN
Nobody knew it at the time, but when Alan Kulwicki won the Champion Spark Plug 500 on June 14, 1992 it marked the final victory of his career. Kulwicki, who was voted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame last week, passed Bill Elliott with 11 laps remaining to cap a day that saw 15 cars drop out before the checkered flag flew, including 11 engine failures. In a precursor to what happened a few months later at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Kulwicki and Elliott battled down the stretch as they exchanged the lead multiple times over the final 25 laps. Kulwicki passed Elliott for the top spot on lap 181, but traffic slowed him down to the point that five laps later the two swapped positions. Mark Martin made it a three-way battle, but Kulwicki ultimately prevailed as he got by both drivers on lap 190 and never looked back. Kulwicki, who won five series races overall, went on to win the championship later that year over fellow Ford drivers Elliott and Davey Allison.
WALLACE HOT STREAK
Rusty Wallace was in his first season with Ford after car owner Roger Penske decided to switch from Pontiac for the 1994 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. That decision paid immediate dividends as Wallace went on to win eight times that year, including the UAW-GM Teamwork 500 at Pocono on June 12. The victory, his second straight in a streak that eventually grew to three with another triumph at Michigan a few days later, was a dramatic one as he passed Dale Earnhardt on the final lap. The two waged a major battle as Earnhardt grabbed the lead with five laps to go, only to see Wallace fight back after the white flag flew to win by 0.28 seconds.
BIFFLE SNAPS DROUGHT
When Greg Biffle won the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono on Aug. 1, 2010 it snapped a 65-race winless drought and gave Ford its first win of the season. Biffle found himself next to Sam Hornish Jr. on the front row of a restart with 20 laps to go and after he was able to gain the lead through the tunnel turn, he never looked back and ended up beating Tony Stewart to the finish line by more than three seconds. The win was the first of two for Biffle that season as he also took the checkered flag at Kansas two months later.
FORD MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP WINNERS AT POCONO
1985 – Bill Elliott (Sweep)
1988 – Bill Elliott (2)
1989 – Terry Labonte and Bill Elliott
1990 – Geoffrey Bodine (2)
1992 – Alan Kulwicki (1)
1994 – Rusty Wallace and Geoffrey Bodine
1995 – Dale Jarrett (2)
1996 – Rusty Wallace (2)
1997 – Dale Jarrett (2)
1998 – Jeremy Mayfield (1)
2000 – Jeremy Mayfield and Rusty Wallace
2001 – Ricky Rudd (1)
2002 – Dale Jarrett (1)
2005 – Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch
2008 – Carl Edwards (2)
2010 – Greg Biffle (2)
2016 – Chris Buescher (2)
2017 – Ryan Blaney (1)
FORD NASCAR XFINITY SERIES WINNERS AT IOWA
2011 – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Sweep)
2012 – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (1)
2013 – Trevor Bayne (1) and Brad Keselowski (2)
2014 – Brad Keselowski (2)
2015 – Chris Buescher (1) and Ryan Blaney (2)
FORD GANDER OUTDOORS TRUCK SERIES WINNERS AT POCONO
2013 – Ryan Blaney