Here's four things you should know before the Pocono Raceway NASCAR Doubleheader Weekend
The NASCAR doubleheader format returns to Pocono Raceway this weekend, and this time plenty of fans will be in attendance.
Roughly mid-way through the Cup Series season, the NASCAR standings are beginning to take shape, giving fans an idea of who to keep an eye on at Pocono.
Here's everything you need to know about race weekend:
1. Race schedule and the stakes of the doubleheader format
If there's anything you should know about race weekend, it's when the races are.
General Tire #AnythingIsPossible 200 ARCA Menards Series: Friday, June 25 at 6 p.m. ET.
CRC Brakleen 150 Truck Series: Saturday, June 26 at noon ET.
Pocono Organics CBD 325 Cup Series: Saturday, June 26 at 3 p.m. ET.
Pocono Green 225 Recycled by J.P. Mascaro & Sons Xfinity Series: Sunday, June 27 at noon ET.
Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 Cup Series: Sunday, June 27 at 3:30 p.m. ET.
The doubleheader format brings fans five NASCAR races in just three days. Two of those are Cup Series races, meaning a potentially landscape-shaking weekend is ahead.
Double the races means double the points opportunities, so the race teams that are best geared for making quick and effective adjustments will find the most success on Sunday.
The format isn't entirely new after debuting last year, but this will be the first time Pocono can welcome fans. A return to the in-person sporting events will likely be energizing on its own, but the action-packed racing weekend format will only amplify the intensity.
2. Kyle Larson's win streak
Coming into the Pocono races, one driver in particular is scorching hot.
Kyle Larson has won three straight Cup Series races, plus the June 13 All-Star race in Bristol. Larson's three points-earning victories came at Charlotte, Sonoma and Nashville.
Three straight wins puts Larson at the doorstep of one of NASCAR's exclusive groups. Only eight drivers in NASCAR's modern era — 1972-present — have won four consecutive Cup races.
The 2018 season saw Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski each win three in a row, but neither driver could join the exclusive four-straight club.
With a win on Saturday, Larson would be the first driver to have a four-race streak since Jimmie Johnson in 2007. Of the eight drivers to win four straight, five went on to win the Cup Series championship that season.
The hot streak goes beyond just winning for Larson, though, as his 19th-place finish in Kansas on May 2 was the last time he finished outside the top two in a race. The No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driver also won the March 7 Cup race in Las Vegas.
3. Denny Hamlin returns with a lead in the standings
Even with all of his recent success, Larson currently sits behind Denny Hamlin in the Cup Series standings. Hamlin, the winner of the 2020 Sunday Cup race at Pocono, has a long history of success at the track.
The Tricky Triangle is famous for tasking drivers with a uniquely challenging three-turn course, so it's no surprise that a driver who's figured out the course can find consistent success.
Hamlin in 2020 came in second behind Harvick in the doubleheader's first race, and beat Harvick out the next day for a victory. In 2019, Hamlin claimed first- and sixth-place finishes as well.
The No. 11 driver for Joe Gibbs Racing hasn't always been perfect at Pocono, but his six wins at the track have him tied with Jeff Gordon for most career wins at Pocono. In 30 races at the track, Hamlin finished inside the top 10 an incredible 20 times.
A win this weekend would give Hamlin exclusive ownership of the Pocono Raceway record. It'd also give a big boost for the driver who's losing ground on Larson in the standings.
Hamlin's still looking for his first win of the season despite being atop the standings, but coming to a track he knows so well could be the perfect time to find one.
4. Fan activities return, almost in full force
While the Cup races will give fans plenty of action to pay attention to, so will returning to the track.
An empty Pocono Raceway for 2020's doubleheader will set the stage for quite the contrast this year, with the track completely selling out its camping spots. The raceway is back operating at full capacity, meaning the crowd could be one of the largest — if not the largest — the northeast has seen in over a year.
Fans can expect the non-racing parts of the doubleheader experience to look and feel pretty much like normal. The raceway organized its Fan Fest, concerts, virtual driver Q&A sessions and more to keep the party going all weekend.
Frank Piscani is the Sports Life multimedia reporter at the Pocono Record. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on social media platforms @frankpiscani.