Who’s Hot, Who’s Not, Pocono Edition

Carl Edwards pulls into the garage area during practice for the Party in the Poconos 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 8, 2013.

Rain wiped out practice and qualifying at Pocono Raceway on Friday, but the good news is the forecast for Sunday’s Party in the Poconos 400 Presented by Walmart looks much better.

Here’s who’s hot and who’s not headed into Sunday’s race, the 14th event on the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule. Rankings are based on average finish in the past five races.

 

TOP FIVE

1. CARL EDWARDS, 8.2 average finish — OK, this is just bizarre. Edwards is second in the Sprint Cup points standings, and has the best average finish of any Sprint Cup driver over the last five points races. But on Friday, Edwards acknowledged “systemic” communications problems at Roush Fenway Racing, where their cars lack the speed needed to win. So how is Edwards ranked No. 1? Easy — his worst finish in the past five races is 14th at Dover.

2. CLINT BOWYER, 9.0 — Like Edwards, Bowyer has been consistent rather than exceptionally fast. Bowyer’s best finish in the last five races was second at Richmond, while his worst was 18th at Talladega.

3. KEVIN HARVICK, 11.0 — Happy time, people: Harvick won at Richmond and Charlotte, was fifth at Darlington and eighth at Dover. The one bummer was a 40th-place finish at Talladega.

4. JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, 11.4 — After a couple of lean years, the Colombian native is finally running well again, scoring a runner-up finish at Dover and a top five at Richmond.

5. JIMMIE JOHNSON, 12.0 — Had he not jumped the final restart at Dover, Johnson would be ranked much higher. Woulda’, coulda’, shoulda’. Didn’t. 

 

BOTTOM FIVE

1. GREG BIFFLE, 26.2 — Expected to be a title contender, Biffle has finished 31st or worse in three of the last five points races.

2. BRAD KESELOWSKI, 24.2 — Boy, did Keselowski tank when his team had to deal with suspensions of their crew chief, car chief and team engineer. Keselowski went four races without finishing  better than 15th.

3. JAMIE McMURRAY, 23.4 — It’s been a struggle lately for McMurray, who has not finished higher than 16th in the last five races.

4. KYLE BUSCH, 21.8 — It’s feast or famine for Busch. His last five finishes are: 24th, 37th, 6th, 38th and 4th.

5. RYAN NEWMAN, 19.8 — Ramming into David Gilliland and finishing 36th at Dover wasn’t the kind of end to his day that Newman wanted.