As we head into the 21st race of the season, we are starting to see more and more parity. Through the first 16 race of 2019, two organizations combined to win 15 of them. See, Team Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing were the ones to beat week in and week out. If you go back to the end of the 2018 season, these teams won 17 of the last 18 Cup races and 18 of 20. The only two tracks that they didn’t win at was a superspeedway in April at Talladega (Hendrick Motorsports – Chase Elliott) and Texas last November (Stewart-Haas – Kevin Harvick). But, that race in Texas saw Harvick’s car fail inspection too.
But, over the last four races, we’ve seen four different race winners, all first time victors this season, all with four different teams. None of which belonged to Penske or JGR.
Kurt Busch defeats his little brother Kyle Busch at the Kentucky Speedway on July 13
Alex Bowman (Hendrick Motorsports) got it all started at the end of June at the Chicagoland Speedway. Then, Justin Haley (Spire Motorsports) stole a win in the rain shortened Coke Zero Sugar 400 in Daytona. After that, Kurt Busch (Chip Ganassi) beat his brother Kyle Busch in a thrilling finish at the Kentucky Speedway. Then, this past Sunday, Harvick (SHR) ended a 21 race winless drought at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Can we go five straight new winners from five different teams on Sunday?
If so, German Racing (Ty Dillon), JTG Daugherty Racing (Chris Buescher, Ryan Preece), Richard Childress Racing (Austin Dillon, Daniel Hemric), Richard Petty Motorsports (Darrell Wallace Jr.), StarCom Racing (Landon Cassill), Front Row Motorsports (Michael McDowell, David Ragan, Matt Tifft), GoFas Racing (Corey LaJoie), Roush/Fenway Racing (Ryan Newman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.) Wood Brothers (Paul Menard) or Leavine Family Racing (Michael McDowell) are up.
Out of that list, only Newman, Stenhouse Jr., Austin Dillon, Menard, DiBenedetto and Buescher have a realistic shot. Even that though, is a real long shot too.
Newman, has five top 10 finishes in his last six starts on the season in his No. 6 Ford. He finished eighth in this very race last year but that was his lone top 10 in his last nine Pocono starts.
His teammate Stenhouse Jr. has never scored a top 10 in Pocono before and has just one top 10 finish in his last 17 races on the year.
Dillon, also has never scored a top 10 before in Pocono with a best finish of 12th in June of last year. He finished 37th back in June and has three straight sub 30th place finishes on the season including seven finishes of 24th or worse in his last eight starts on the year.
Menard’s only win came on a 2.5-mile track at Indy several years ago, but he has just one top 10 finish in his career at Pocono as that came back in 2012. He has also failed to score a top 10 finish in the last 11 races on the season.
Buescher, stole this win in 2016 but has finished 19th, 28th, 17th, 37th and 14th respectively since. He does have nine straight top 20 results on the season though, so he can possibly luck out if he goes off strategy and gets some help in the end.
DiBenedetto, has never fared that well in Pocono but that’s because he never has been with a top team. But, Toyota has won four straight in Pocono and finished 1-3-6 back in June. Also, DiBenedetto has three top eight finishes in his last five starts on the year as well.
But, we can open this up for a new first time winner on the year though, not necessarily a new team.
Kyle Larson, Aric Almirola, Ryan Blaney, William Byron, Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones, Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez open that up.
Larson, has three top five finishes in his last five starts on the season to go along with a runner-up in June of 2018. But, he has three finishes of 23rd or worse in his last four starts on the season.
Almirola, finished seventh and 10th respectively in the last two June races but his best result prior to that was 18th. He hasn’t scored a top five finish in his last 17 races on the season either.
His teammates of Bowyer and Suarez may not fare much better.
Bowyer, has just one top 10 finish in his last six starts – 35th, 11th, 37th, 34th, 6th and 20th respectively on the season. He did finish fifth this past June but that his last top five on the year. He has two top 10 finishes in his last five Pocono starts.
Suarez, has been good at Pocono (second, eighth last two starts) but not so much on the season with finishes of 17th, 24th, 40th, 8th and 19th respectively over the last five races.
Johnson, has just one top five finish in Pocono since his win in June 2013. He also has just three top five finishes all season with his last two finishes being 30th in each race.
His teammate Byron though has four top 10 finishes since the Coke 600 but his last two finishes are 18th and 12th on the season. He was 18th and 6th in Pocono last year and ninth in June after starting from the pole. He may have one of the better chances.
So does Jones. He finished third in June and has came home third in each of the last two weeks of the season. Also, Jones has seven top eight finishes over the last 10 races in 2019.
To me, Jones, Byron and DiBenedetto are the best options to get it done.
If you count Joey Logano’s win in Michigan and Martin Truex Jr’s in Sonoma, we do have six straight different organizations to have won the last six Cup races.