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Pole-sitter William Byron drives down the front stretch during June 1 qualifying for Sunday’s Pocono 400 (Matt Slocum)
Pole-sitter William Byron drives down the front stretch during June 1 qualifying for Sunday’s Pocono 400 (Matt Slocum)|Associated Press
NASCAR

NASCAR Sunday -- Eckel & Company on the Pocono 400 . . . Truex, Busch, Keselowski, Harvick, Blaney, Hamlin

Mark Eckel

POCONO 400
Pocono Raceway
Long Pond, Pa. 2 p.m.

The second half of the 2019 NASCAR season gets underway at Pocono Sunday with one of the circuits more interesting races.

Pocono, nicknamed The Tricky Triangle because of its three unique turns modeled after the old Trenton Speedway, Indianapolis and Milwaukee, also boasts the longest front straightaway at 3,740 feet.

“Typically, here you get five-wide already," Martin Truex Jr., who won here last year and won last week in Charlotte, told NASCAR.com. "The more cars you have side-by-side in front of you, the bigger run you get. We'll have to wait and see how many we can fit on the front stretch because I feel like it's going to be a lot. We'll see.”

Truex, the New Jersey native, has three wins this season, which shares the lead with Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski. Truex’s wins have all came over the past five weeks. Our “experts’’ think that tie will be broken this week, but all three sectors think by a different driver.

Before we get to the picks, some other Poco-notes:

>>> Kevin Harvick is tied for third in the driver standings with 478 points, but is the only driver in the top seven without a win. Add to that he’s also never won at Pocono. So he’s either a great bet for the law of average bettors or someone to avoid. We choose the latter.

>>> Chevy has produced 18 wins in this race, with began in 1982, and has also produced four of the past six winners.

>>> It’s not easy to repeat here. Bobby Allison did it the first two years of the race (1982-83) and Tim Richmond did so in 1986-87. The third and most recent driver to repeat, however, was Jeff Gordon (1996-97).

Now, the picks . . .

Mark Eckel
Martin Truex (6-1): I was the only one to pick him at Charlotte, and I’m sticking with my Jersey boy again this week. Yes, as already posted it’s tough to repeat, but Truex is back on a roll. I’m not going against him.

Mike “Left Turn’’ Sweeney
Brad Keselowski (7-1): “LT’’ likes BK’s consistency here. He’s finished fifth, fifth and fourth the past three years. He might be due to get to Victory Lane. Keselowski is also my second choice.

Scott “Tobacco Road’’ Baker
Kyle Busch (3-1)
: “TR’’ is going with the favorite and when it’s Busch that’s never a bad play. The current points leader at 528 finished third here last year.

Others to Watch (at good prices):
Kurt Busch (20-1)
Ryan Blaney (20-1)
Denny Hamlin (12-1)