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Posted: Friday, August 1st 2014 at 7:59am

NASCAR Preview: Kahne looks for elusive win at Pocono

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Kasey Kahne celebrates in Victory Lane after winning last year's 400 at Pocono Raceway. / Photo: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images
LONG POND, PA - Kasey Kahne’s aggravation spilled with every word uttered in his post-race interview on ESPN following Sunday’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In regards to needing a win to enter the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Kahne said: “Yeah, no kidding. I know that. We have five more good tracks for us and six more races, so hopefully we can get one.”

The look on Kahne’s face was one of missed opportunity, after leading the most laps (70) at the Brickyard. But he immediately looked on the bright side – “five more good tracks.” And one of those, unquestionably, is Pocono Raceway, site of Sunday’s 400.

Kahne is the defending winner of this one, and with two wins overall and a runner-up finish in the August race two years ago, the driver of the No. 5 has headline writers frothing at the mouth to use the old “Kahne Is Able” headline sometime around 5 p.m. on Sunday.

A victory would catapult Kahne squarely onto the 16-driver Chase Grid. He’d be the 12th different winner this season, with only five regular season races remaining. “Comfortable” would be a good word to describe the position a win would give Kahne.

His solid runs have put him in position to “back” into the Chase Grid, though he’s currently on the outside looking in. With 555 points this season, Kahne is only four points behind Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Austin Dillon, who currently resides in the 16th spot on the Chase Grid Outlook.

Statistically speaking, Kahne is among the hottest drivers in the series. In the last six races, since race No. 15 at Michigan, Kahne has scored four top-10 finishes. His average finish of 10.5 over the stretch ranks fourth in the series. And his driver rating of 101.4 ranks second only to teammate Jeff Gordon (105.0).

WDUN will have live MRN Radio coverage of Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 400 from Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, PA beginning at Noon on 102.9 FM and at 1 pm on 550 AM.

NASCAR Nationwide Series: Dillon Looks For Momentum From Indy Win
Edging out one of the most competitive fields of the year, Ty Dillon posted his first career NASCAR Nationwide Series win at the historic 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In doing so, he claimed Nationwide Insurance’s $100,000 Dash 4 Cash check and also closed the gap (-15) between he and the points leader, Chase Elliott. Dillon became the 12th different winner through 19 races this season, the most at this point since 2007.

Dillon has quietly formulated a solid season thus far. He is fourth in the standings, 15-points back from the lead after posting one win and 13 top 10s. Though under the radar earlier this season, this past weekend’s victory at Indianapolis thrusts Dillon into the spotlight of championship contention. Dillon has an average finish of 9.5 and a season-to-date Driver Rating of 96.2 (seventh-best in the series) in 2014.

Returning to Iowa, Dillon looks to capitalize on his recent success and make it two wins in a row. Dillon made his series track debut at Iowa earlier this season where he started 13th and finished eighth.

"Iowa has always been one of my favorite race tracks,” Dillon said. “I really think it fits my driving style because it's fast, but a shorter track. It's important that we qualify well and stay smart. We've got all the momentum in the world right now."

The 22-year-old has fixed his sights on standings leader Elliott, who has set the bar high this season. Elliott has three wins, eight top fives and 13 top 10s in 19 starts. Elliott finished fourth in his series debut at Iowa earlier this season.

Dillon will have to leap frog two formidable opponents in the series standings to get to Elliott, however. Currently third in the standings just four points ahead of Dillon is Elliott Sadler. Sadler has made seven starts at Iowa, winning once and posting six top-five finishes. His average finish of 3.9 at Iowa is his career best among series tracks on the schedule.

Ahead of Sadler is Regan Smith, second in the series standings, 11 points ahead of Dillon. Smith is having a career season. In 19 starts he has a career-best average finish of 9.0, has led the standings multiple times and won the season-opening race at Daytona. In three starts at Iowa, Smith has posted an average finish of 7.0, including finishing third earlier this season.

WDUN will have live MRN Radio coverage of Saturday night's NASCAR Nationwide Series US Cellular 250 from Iowa Speedway in Newton, IA beginning at 7:30 pm on 102.9 FM and 550 AM.

NASCAR Camping World Trucks: Extra! Extra! Pocono Adds Mileage

Fans will be treated to an extended show this year at Pocono Raceway as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race is scheduled for 150 miles instead of its previous 125. The extra mileage won’t be too much of an added burden to the drivers’ stamina; three of the last four races have ended with a green/white checkered finish (2010, 2011, 2013).

The longest race at Pocono was in 2010 when Elliott Sadler won a 55 lap, 137.5 mile race. Sadler is one of four different winners in four races at the “Tricky Triangle.”

Five drivers in Saturday’s lineup have logged laps in all four races, but remain winless at Pocono – Norm Benning, Matt Crafton, Ron Hornaday Jr., Johnny Sauter and Timothy Peters.

Among drivers winless at Pocono, favorites include:

Matt Crafton: The only driver to start all four races and finish inside the top 10 in each race. He has an average finish of 5.8, the fifth highest among active drivers.

Ron Hornaday: Coming off a season-best second-place finish at Eldora Speedway, Hornaday looks to capitalize on a highest finish of sixth at Pocono last season.

Kyle Larson: Makes his first career-series start and second national series start at Pocono. He has raced the track once in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finishing fifth.

The possibility of a repeat winner still stands with Joey Coulter and Ryan Blaney entered. Pocono is Coulter’s best track on the circuit. In three starts, he has an average finish of 3.7. He earned his first – and only – series win at Pocono in 2012 and has yet to finish outside the top 10 at the track.
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