Track Talk: Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway

Lowe's for Pros...or bros in the Pocono 400.

Lowe’s for Pros…or bros in the Pocono 400.

Each weekend, our panel provides their thoughts on the latest stories in NASCAR while predicting the winner of the Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway, the upcoming Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race!

This weekend, our panelists Adam LucasAshley Hobbs, Ashley Hull, Christina Bowman, Cody ShoppeKathleen CassidyJose Acero Jr, Katie Copple, Kayla Sturm, and Stephen Conley contemplate about Kyle Busch’s magnificent victorious feat and the upcoming inductees for the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

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Question 1
Conquering all the active tracks comprising the Cup schedule, does this further cement Kyle Busch's greatness?

Conquering all the active tracks comprising the Cup schedule, does this further cement Kyle Busch’s greatness?

Kyle Busch scored his first Coca-Cola 600 win this past weekend at Charlotte.  As a result, Busch has wins at every active Cup track in the schedule. How significant is this feat considering the kinds of tracks on the NASCAR circuit and the talent that Busch possesses?

Acero:  Not too many have accomplished what Busch has at his age. With that said, the fact that he has won at every NASCAR track is quite the accomplishment. The only driver I can think of that came close to what Busch has done is Tony Stewart who was shy, what two tracks (Darlington and Kentucky) if I am not mistaken. But to witness Rowdy storm NASCAR the way he is doing is awesome. He is a Hall of Famer indeed.

Bowman:  I’m not sure of the exact number of people who have won at every track, but I know it is limited. So to say he is extremely talented is an understatement. I know a lot of people love to hate Rowdy, but to accomplish so much at his age in a sport and generation of drivers like we have today is astounding! He will go down as one of the greatest drivers without a doubt.

Cassidy: If this doesn’t speak to talent, I don’t know what does. This is a huge accomplishment for a driver this day in age. Love him or hate him this puts a driver on a whole new level.

Conley: When they talked about Gordon going after this in his final start at Kentucky it was talked about being a major feather in the certain Hall of Fame cap. There is no question this is a big deal and big stat in Kyle Busch’s long list of accomplishments. A legendary accomplishment.

Copple: To my understanding, he is the first driver to ever accomplish this. If you think of how many tracks that is just in the Cup series, it’s a major deal. But if you add in all of the tracks that he’s also won at in the Truck and XFINITY Series as well, it’s even greater.

There is no denying Kyle Busch’s talent. He may not have the best personality, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he is an insane wheelman. He is a championship winning driver and has won everywhere. No other driver can say that.

Hobbs: He is the first driver to do this. Not Dale Earnhardt, not Jeff Gordon, not Jimmie Johnson; Kyle Busch did this. It shows immense amounts of skill! He worked his butt off every week in every year to make this accomplishment.

This is one for the history books that younger drivers can now try to break in less time. Those who deny his talent are blinded by their dislike for him; and that is not how you define greatness or skill in this sport.

Hull:  Love him or hate him, what he has done is a huge achievement. He is a very talented driver, and he will be in the Hall of Fame one day. He is still young  and I look forward to seeing what the future has in store for him.

Lucas: Well, if Kyle can win at the Charlotte Roval in the fall, then he truly will be the master. I know it’s still Charlotte Motor Speedway.

But, if the track is considering this event as a new entity with its own namesake and course, then Kyle technically has not won at all the tracks.  If he can accomplish this endeavor in September, I think I could fully answer this question.

So Kyle, if you’re reading this and need some more fuel to your quest to become series champion again, then by all means, please use this as motivation. I wish you nothing but the best of luck the rest of this season.

Shoppe:  This is one of the greatest accomplishments any driver has earned in NASCAR history! The versatility it requires to not only run well but to actually get a win at every single track is amazing.

Some greats could only see success at one or two types of tracks on the calendar. For Kyle Busch to be the first to do anything that all the legends before him couldn’t is huge.

Sturm: I think this speaks volumes to Kyle Busch’s talent, if we didn’t already know how talented he was. I believe he will go down as one of the best drivers in NASCAR history. Not only that, but to accomplish what he has at a such a young age is also amazing. Assuming no other factors, Kyle has at least 10-15 more years in NASCAR. He could accomplish double of what he already has.

Question 2
From "The Kid" to "Hall of Famer," Jeff Gordon will be one of five new inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

From “The Kid” to “Hall of Famer,” Jeff Gordon will be one of five new inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Jeff Gordon, Davey Allison, Alan Kulwicki, Jack Roush, and Roger Penske are the newest members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  Comprising the Class of 2019, is this the strongest quintet for the HoF?  What’s the most important contribution that each brought to the table?

Acero:  Three kickass drivers and two renowned team owners! Great class.

Bowman:  It’s so hard to answer questions like this, about whether or not a group is the strongest ever seen because there are so many different dynamics at work with each class that has been inducted. I will say that I think each of these gentlemen are very deserving of the honor.

Cassidy: I love this group!

Conley:  Strongest group? I wouldn’t say that, but I would say that it is one with the strongest ties to current fans. You have two drivers that were certain to be on their way to some of the greatest in the sport.

The stories that can be told about both Alan and Davey are endless. The family ties that Davey has, plus Alan as the first driver owner and how their stories were cut short. Jack Roush, Roger Penske and Jeff Gordon all have ties to the newer fans. So, this class and what they all brought to the sport each have a story that will relate to a lot of fans.

Copple: Can’t every HoF class be defined as the best or strongest yet? There is so much talent in and out of the garage that you can’t measure it.

Each of these men deserve to be in the Hall of Fame based on what they have done for the sport. To go into each of them in depth would take way too long, so I’ll leave that to the experts!

But I will say this – Gordon, Allison and Kulwicki all made great strides in track for drivers in the sport today. And Roush and Penske are two of the biggest names and greatest team owners that this sport has ever seen. It’s a great HoF class.

Hobbs: How would one define a strongest class? I am not sure, but it is a good class. I have opinions on the threshold of drivers getting in, but that is another question for another day.

Jeff Gordon is, in my opinion, the leader of the 2019 class. Given that all but two people voted for him, that is clearly a huge deal. Gordon came into this sport as the odd man out and was booed for what seemed like most of his career.

But, he grew into one of the best racers, and best people, this sport could ask for. Congrats to these gentlemen on their historic accomplishments that have gotten them to this point!

Hull: Man, this is a great list. Personally, I believe Alan Kulwicki should have been inducted long ago. They have each accomplished so much as talented members of the sport. They really made the sport as amazing at is now.

Lucas: I started working at the NASCAR Hall of Fame a few weeks ago and had openly asked employees and fans who they wanted to be elected into the class of 2019. Almost 100% of the fans said Jeff Gordon (even non-Gordon fans agreed to this) deserved to be inducted as a first ballot.

The second most mentioned person was Jack Roush and third was Davey Allison. So basically, it’s a great allotment of drivers, an owner, and an engine builder/owner.

I was a bit shocked that there were as many drivers as there were. I guess that 1993 was a good year to be racing in NASCAR (and to be born). Overall, the fans wanted this and that’s what they got. It’s going to be a fun time at the Hall for sure.

Shoppe:  I’d say this is the strongest group since those first few classes that laid down the foundation for the Hall of fame and what it stands for, the top tier legends of our sport. This class has the best from both the driver and owner side of our sport.

Jeff Gordon is so deserving of this induction with his monumental impact on this sport.  He helped draw in fans from all over the country and world to NASCAR as well as his amazing success.

For Davey Allison, I only wish we could have seen what kind of historic numbers he undoubtedly would have put up if his career had run its course. The achievements he got in his time in the sport were great in such a short time.

Alan Kulwicki’s achievements are all the more impressive when you look at the inspiring way he went about running his own team his own way. Roger Penske and Jack Roush have set the bar for all owners in this sport. Both are the benchmark for owning a team that can have success at the highest level.

Sturm: I absolutely believe this is a very strong class, all with great and unique accomplishments. For Jeff Gordon, I think his accomplishments speak for themselves. 93 wins and 4 Cup championships are definitely HoF worthy.

As for Davey Allison, if you look at his timeline of accomplishments, you will see many firsts, such as first rookie to qualify in the front row for the Daytona 500. Couple that with his 19 Cup wins and his hard work ethic and he definitely deserves a spot in the HoF class.

I believe Alan Kulwicki will go down in history for his engineering smarts. The fact that he refused to take help from big race teams and and his success was a result of his dedication and hard work. As for Jack Roush and Roger Penske, they are incredible team owners with multiple championships in multiple different series.

That’s two laps around “The Tricky Triangle.” Before we get our three-sided jokes on, let’s review the race and points report from Charlotte last Sunday!
Hobbs found a bargain pick in Denny Hamlin.

Hobbs found a bargain pick in Denny Hamlin.

Naturally, she enjoys a healthy points lead.

Naturally, she enjoys a healthy points lead.

Friends, it’s about time to drop the hammer on this edition of Track Talk! Let’s reveal our picks for Sunday’s Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway!
With eight different picks, it could be an interesting Pocono 400 for the TPF panelists!

With eight different picks, it could be an interesting Pocono 400 for the TPF panelists!

Tiongson:  A new month is here but I see things remaining the same. Kyle Busch scores his second straight Pocono win and does so in dominant fashion.

Bowman:  I have to pick Denny Hamlin at Pocono!

Acero:  Hamlin!

Cassidy:  Young Ryan Blaney.

Hull:  Ryan Blaney for the win!

Lucas: Whenever I talk to fans at the Hall of Fame and they’re conflicted on who to pull for (mostly because they’re a former Jeff Gordon or Dale Earnhardt Jr fans). I always point to the young man driving for Hall of Fame Class of 2019 inductee Roger Penske, Ryan Blaney. He’s young, talented, and full of personality. Look for him to get win #2 this weekend at the Tricky Triangle!

Copple: It’s hard not to pick Harvick or Busch every week because they are just dominating this season. However, I’m going to have to go with last year’s champ, Martin Truex Jr!

Sturm: Going with Martin Truex Jr.

Conley: I have to go by the numbers to score some points. Looking for a solid finish and with the best average finish among active drivers, Brad Keselowski to the front!  

Hobbs: Because this track is fast, and this kid likes fast tracks, I’m going for Kyle Larson this weekend in the Pocono 400.

Shoppe:  Clint Bowyer.

TPF Stats: This driver has shown some strength in his sophomore season. Look for Erik Jones to turn some heads this weekend in the Poconos (much like he did last year).

That wraps this week’s preview, race fans!  Thanks for joining us for another edition of Track Talk!

We’re ready for some racing. How about you? What do you think are the biggest storylines heading into Sunday’s race and who is your favorite to win?  Tweet us now @ThePodiumFinish and tell us now!

Thanks as always to the TPF team for their amazing efforts this week!  We hope to see you at the races.

The opinions and thoughts expressed in Track Talk are solely of the authors. They do not reflect any organizations affiliated with the participants and author outside of TPF. This weekly feature is strictly for entertainment purposes and are not indicative of TPF, the organization, and its staff.

Rob Tiongson

30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field, and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught my eye. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by me or by one of my talented columnists who absolutely have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. I enjoy editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography.

Graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. Proud to be from Massachusetts, just as happy to be a Texan.

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