The NASCAR Cup Series will return to Pocono Raceway on Sunday, June 27, for the second race of the doubleheader weekend. The drivers will line up in a different order than they finished in the Pocono Organics CBD 325, putting a new face at the front of the pack. Roush Fenway Racing’s Chris Buescher will lead the field to green as the pole-sitter with Front Row Motorsports’ Michael McDowell next to him on the front row.
In order to set the starting lineup for the Explore the Pocono Mountains 350, NASCAR used two separate processes. The sanctioning body inverted the drivers that finished in the top 20, meaning that race-winner Alex Bowman will start 20th while runner-up Kyle Busch will start 19th. Buescher finished 20th, so he will start at the front. Drivers 21-38 will start the race in the same spot where they finished, barring any late penalties.
Martin Truex Jr. will line up on the second row next to teammate Christopher Bell as he tries to recover from an 18th-place finish and recent run of struggles. Aric Almirola and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will make up the third row while Bubba Wallace and Daniel Suarez will line up on the fourth row.
The Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 will take place on Sunday, June 27, at 3:30 p.m. ET. NBC Sports Network will provide coverage as the Cup Series drivers take on the Tricky Triangle for the second time in 24 hours.
Multiple Drivers Will Start at the Rear of the Field
While the majority of drivers that finished inside the top 20 will line up in a slightly different position for the second doubleheader race, one will head to the back of the pack. Kyle Larson suffered a flat tire on the final turn of the Pocono Organics CBD 325, dropping him from first to ninth. His No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro suffered considerable damage and forced the team to go to a backup car.
Along with Larson, both Ryan Newman and Cole Custer will have to go to the rear of the field after accidents caused considerable damage to their respective vehicles. Custer slammed into the wall after an incident involving Brad Keselowski while Newman slid around one of the turns and backed into the wall. Corey LaJoie also went to a backup car after an incident damaged the right rear fender.
Ross Chastain, Anthony Alfredo, and Ryan Preece rounded out the group of drivers going to the rear of the field after suffering damage in the first race. Chase Elliott, Buescher, and Keselowski all avoided this penalty with repairs to their respective stock cars.
According to Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrass, NASCAR rules state the teams that go to their backups during doubleheader weekends have to drop to the rear of the field for the second race. They can make some repairs and adjustments, but they can not change the engine, transmission, gearbox, or other major components.
The First Doubleheader Race Shook up the Playoff Picture
There were several drivers that entered the race weekend at Pocono Raceway with the opportunity to solidify a spot in the playoffs. For example, Buescher sat above the cutoff line while Kurt Busch and Stenhouse were just below. They did not remain in this order for very long.
Busch, in particular, put himself into the playoff picture with a strong performance in the first doubleheader race. He finished seventh in Stage 1, won Stage 2, and then finished the race in sixth place. Busch locked up 45 points in the process and leapfrogged Buescher.
There are eight races remaining in the regular season, so Buescher and Stenhouse can continue to push for top-10 finishes and wins. Busch, on the other hand, will have to focus on continuing his recent streak of strong outings, which includes three straight top-10s, in order to maintain his hold on the final playoff spot.