Kurt Busch is driver to beat at Pocono

Here are the projections for Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Pocono.

Projected Finish - NSCS at Pocono

Our projection system takes into account, among other factors, drivers’ past performances at the current track, pre-race on-track activity (practices and qualifying) and probability of finishing the race.

All of the data is then adjusted for the track type (in this case, a 2.5-mile tri-oval) and time of year.

Can Busch avoid a wreck?

Kurt Busch appears to be the driver to beat on Sunday, that is, if he can keep the car in one piece. Busch has wrecked twice in the last eight races at Pocono (finishing 30th and 33rd), but has finishes of third, seventh, third, second, sixth, and ninth during that span when avoiding a collision.

His car was also dominant this week in pre-race workouts, never finishing worse than ninth in any session.

Johnson going for 3 straight

Jimmie Johnson picked up his second straight win last week at Dover after going winless for the first 11 races of the season. Johnson will now go for his third straight win, which would be his third such streak since 2000 - no other driver has done it even once in that time.

Pocono could be a good track for him to pick up another win, as he led more than half of all laps run there last year.

Pole position is key

Qualifying has been important at Pocono, as each of the last two June races at the track have been won from the pole, with the winner in 2011 starting second (Kurt Busch starts second on Sunday).

In the last 16 Pocono races, polesitters have six wins and 12 finishes in the top three.

Halfway to the Chase

We’re at the halfway point to the Chase, with 10 drivers having won (after 26 races, the top 16 drivers in wins, with points as a tiebreaker, make the Chase).

Of the 10 previous Chase champions, eight of them had a win at this point of the season (only Tony Stewart has been winless), and all were in the top 10 in points.