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Raceday: Your guide to Sunday's GoBowling.com 400

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series | Pocono Raceway | ESPN, 1:19 p.m. Sunday

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Saturday, Aug. 03, 2013

Three things to watch

1 . Jimmie Johnson started from the pole and won the June race at Pocono. Johnson won the pole Friday for this race. Is the rest a foregone conclusion?

2. Joey Logano’s most recent Sprint Cup Series win came last year at Pocono and he’s been fast again in practice and qualifying this weekend.

3 . The Chase roulette is getting crazy between points positions six and 15h. They flip-flop after every race, it seems. Who has the lucky number this weekend?

Observations

• Jamie Allison, director of Ford Racing, calls the manufacturer’s performance in NASCAR this season “a tale of two series” and he’s right. In Nationwide, Ford, with the help of Penske Racing drivers Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Sam Hornish Jr. and A.J. Allmendinger, has won seven of 19 races. On the Cup side, featuring some of the same drivers, Ford has three wins in 20 races. While Ford started slow in Nationwide, it has picked up the pace of late, while in the Cup series, the opposite seems to be the case.

• Despite the high number of race winners this season (12), three drivers are in the Top 10 in Cup series points without victories – Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Both Bowyer and Earnhardt are high enough in points to likely make the Chase without a win but they would be seeded near the bottom when the field is reset due to the lack of victories. Gordon is one point above 11th and could use a win both to remain in the Top 10 and to stay in the hunt for a wild card should he drop out.

• The worst thing that irritates the fans of other drivers is not that they may actually perceive Jimmie Johnson and his team are somehow skirting the rules but that no matter what obstacle thrown in the No. 48 team’s path, they only seem to get better. Fans likely wonder why their favorite driver’s team can’t do the same.

Best bets

Three picks for your fantasy team:

Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Aric Almirola

Notes

Crew member dies at speedway near Raleigh: Mike Sabiston, a crew member of New Day Motorsports, died Friday, Aug. 2, after falling from the lift gate of his team's hauler in the infield at Southern National Motorsports Park near Kenly, N.C., about 40 miles southeast of Raleigh.

According to speedway officials, the remainder of Friday’s track activities were canceled after the incident. Saturday night's Pro All Stars Series South race remained on schedule.

"We at Southern National Motorsports Park are saddened to report a member of our racing family was in a tragic accident while working with his team unloading their car. The owners, staff and all racing teams at Southern National would like to send our prayers and deepest sympathy to his family," said a statement posted on the track's Web site.

New Day Motorsports, which fields a car for driver Brandon Ward, withdrew from the event.

"Mike was a longtime friend and supporter of New Day Motorsports and was an integral part of our racing family. He was certainly loved by us all and deeply appreciated," said a statement released by the team.

Ross Kenseth, son of NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Matt Kenseth, and Harrison Burton, son of Cup driver Jeff Burton, are among the drivers scheduled to compete in Saturday night's race at Southern National.

The team's statement said funeral arrangements were incomplete.

LaJoie picks up second ARCA win: Corey LaJoie, the son of two-time Nationwide series champion Randy LaJoie, earned his second Automobile Racing Club of America series win of the season on Friday at Pocono Raceway.

Corey took the lead with two laps to go when then-leader, Erik Jones, scraped the wall and went to pit road. LaJoie also won at Chicagoland Speedway in July when the leader ran out of gas coming to the white flag.

Cup practice canceled by rain: Persistent rain showers around the track canceled both of Saturday morning’s Cup series practice sessions at Pocono.

Race facts

Where: Pocono Raceway, Long Pond, Pa.

Track type: 2.5-mile, mostly flat, triangular-shaped oval

Race distance: 160 laps, 400 miles

Weather: Mostly sunny with a high near 70.

TV: Coverage begins at noon on ESPN. Green flag is 1:19 p.m. ET

Radio: Motor Racing Network



Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter
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