After being winless in the first 11 races this season, Jimmie Johnson has been hot with two victories in a row -- Charlotte and Dover. Johnson, the six-time and defending Sprint Cup champion, will try to win his third consecutive race, a feat that he nor any other driver has not accomplished since the fall of 2007. He won four in a row at that time -- Martinsville, Atlanta, Texas and Phoenix.
"I know that we've had some great runs, and usually when we're hot, it carries from track to track," Johnson said. "I certainly hope we can keep it rolling. [Pocono] is a great place for us."
Johnson has won at Pocono three times. He scored a season-sweep here in 2004. His most recent victory at this 2.5-mile triangle-shaped track came one year ago.
When the series competed here last August, Johnson started on the pole and dominated the first half of the race by leading 43 laps, but he cut his right- front tire and made contact with the wall. Johnson pitted numerous times for repairs but rebounded nicely for a 13th-place finish.
"Last year, we had some great speed in our race cars and really thought we had an opportunity for the sweep but unfortunately blew a tire off of turn 1 while having a dominant day," he said. "It took us out of the opportunity for the win, but I think we came back for an awesome finish with a torn up race car.
"It's a new year with a new rules package, so we'll have to get to work on that, and hopefully, we'll have what we need here."
Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Johnson are those drivers who have multiple victories in the series this season (2 each). Johnson is the highest-ranked of the three in the point standings. He sits fourth in points, compared to sixth for Logano and 12th for Harvick.
"We have some momentum right now," Johnson said. "Pocono is a great track for the No. 48 [Hendrick Motorsports] team. I know it is Chad's [Knaus, crew chief] favorite racetrack to go to because all three corners are different, the loading is different, the banking is different, and there are a bunch of tools and options to adjust the race car all the way around the track. That is what Chad really enjoys about that."
Right now, Hendrick Motorsports is virtually assured of having three of its four drivers in the Chase, which starts on Sept. 14 at Chicagoland. Jeff Gordon (2nd in points) scored the victory at Kansas last month, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (fifth in points) won the season-opening Daytona 500 in February.
Kasey Kahne, who drives the No. 5 car for Hendrick, has struggled somewhat this season, as he currently sits 18th in the point standings. Kahne has not won since the August 2013 race at Pocono (28 races ago).
In the first Sprint Cup practice session at Pocono on Friday afternoon, Brian Vickers recorded the fastest lap at 180.854 mph. Brad Keselowski was second quickest, followed by Harvick, Kurt Busch and Johnson. Kahne placed 20th on the charts.
Forty-three teams are on the entry list for the Pocono 400.
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup. Date: Sunday, June 8. Race: Pocono 400. Site: Pocono Raceway. Track: 2.5-mile triangle-shaped oval. Start time: 1 p.m. ET. Laps: 160. Miles: 400. 2013 Winner: Jimmie Johnson. Television: TNT. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.