Two of the most unique tracks on the schedule hosted a thrilling weekend of racing as Iowa Speedway and Pocono Raceway took center stage.
The competition was highlighted by a combination of momentum, strategy, and tempers. This led to thrilling finishes and the best and worst moments featured on this week’s list.
- Ryan @Blaney’s near miss in Indianapolis hurt. However, the 21-year old bounced back in the US Cellular 250. He dominated the race by leading 252 laps, which surpassed the advertised distance due to a green-white-checkered finish. This was another stellar performance that opened the eyes of many. Expect the Team Penske driver to find more success in upcoming races.
- Many never expected @MattKenseth to win in Pocono. This included the 2003 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion himself who couldn’t believe that he conquered “The Tricky Triangle” on Sunday. While the victory came as a result of a strategy call, it shows the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota team’s strength in fuel mileage events. It also provides momentum heading into the final regular-season races and the Chase for the Sprint Cup
- In standalone NASCAR XFINITY Series races, @ReganSmith shines. He finished second on Saturday night, marking his best result of the season. It couldn’t have come at a better time as the JR Motorsports driver looks to gain points and enter the championship battle. This is the fourth consecutive top-10 finish for the Cato, New York native. It also provides confidence heading to his home track of Watkins Glen International as he eyes victory.
- Momentum means a lot for teams looking to claim a Chase spot. This includes @AJDinger as he is in need of a victory to make the playoffs for the second consecutive year. The 33-year old finished seventh in the Windows 10 400, scoring his third top-10 result of the year. This strong performance comes at the right time for the No. 47 Bush’s Grillin Beans Chevrolet team as they head back to the location of the organization’s first win, looking to repeat.
- @Matt_Crafton has nearly been perfect in 2015. His consistency is unmatched in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. This approach has led the 39-year old to the last two series championships. However, his impressive consistency took a hit on Saturday in Pocono as he crashed early in the event. The No. 88 Menard’s Toyota team also lost the points lead to @TylerReddick and now trails the Daytona winner by 11 points. This leaves Crafton with ground to make up as he chases his third consecutive championship.
- Many teams gambled on fuel mileage Sunday in Pocono. While it worked out well for race winner Matt Kenseth, he passed three drivers who didn’t beat the odds when they rolled the dice late in the event. @JoeyLogano was the first to run out as he competed for his second victory of the year and finished 20th. Going for the Pocono sweep, @MartinTruex_Jr went empty while running in second-place. He came home 19th after having another competitive car. @KyleBusch also took the fuel gamble. The Indianapolis winner made it the farthest as he didn’t run dry until the final lap. As the No. 18 M&M’s Crispy Toyota team nears meeting Chase requirements, taking this chance and finishing 21st isn’t as costly as it would have been a month earlier.
One of the most anticipated race weekends of the season has arrived. Drivers will turn left and right in Watkins Glen as two of the most exciting events of the season take place. This will create many moments to discuss on next week’s list.
Jason Schultz is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist
EMAIL JASON AT firstname.lastname@example.org