Race Weekend Central

Underdogs Pocono II

Have No Fear: The Underdogs Are Here: Pocono II Edition

Are you a fan of a driver from a smaller team? Do you ever see one of these guys on the race results and wonder how he got there? NASCAR’s small teams may not get much airtime during the race broadcast, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to talk about. Each week, Amy Henderson takes a peek into how the little guys fared in the race and picks three who stood out.

Underdog Selection No. 1: Casey Mears for Germain Racing; started 24th, finished 12th

Mears and his team desperately needed a rebound after finishing 38th and 33rd the last two weeks, but Pocono can be a daunting track for smaller teams if they don’t find some setup magic and a little strategy. Several teams hit on pit strategies that led to strong finishes, and Mears was easily the best in the small-team class, posting a 12th-place finish, almost a dozen spots better than his career Cup average at the Tricky Triangle. Mears gains two spots in points this week to retake the lead among the small teams.

Underdog Selection No. 2: Justin Allgaier for HScott Motorsports; started 22nd, finished 16th

Allgaier suffered minor damage in the 13-car pileup on lap 117, but that didn’t stop him from bringing home his first top 20 since June. Allgaier has had some struggles in his rookie season, and running for an underfunded team makes the learning curve that much steeper. The young driver is learning, though, and has shown that he can finish strong if his cars are working for him.

Underdog Selection No. 3: David Gilliland for Front Row Motorsports; started 30th, finished 17th

Gilliland posted his best finish of 2014 and his best at Pocono since 2008 with his 17th-place run. The really good news for FRM is that teammate David Ragan also took home a top 20 and his best finish of the year. The two teams from FRM continue to be fairly equal, and that’s a sign that the team is on the right track. If one driver was scoring strong finishes while the other struggled, that could mean deeper problems, but this team does well in keeping things balanced.

Underdog Pick of the Week-Watkins Glen: AJ Allmendinger for JTG-Daugherty Racing

My pick for Pocono was David Ragan, who finished a respectable 19th but was fourth in class as several small teams had better-than-expected runs on Sunday.

It’s off to the road course at Watkins Glen international this weekend, and my pick for the right-hand turns is AJ Allmendinger, who holds an impressive 9.2 average finish in five Cup race at the Glen, easily the best average in this group (next on the list is Casey Mears with a 19.1). In those five races he’s scored a top 5 and three top 10’s. Road courses are an equalizer of sorts, and Allmendinger is not only the best bet to lead this group of drivers; he’s an outside threat to win.

Is your favorite driver among NASCAR’s underdogs? Are you frustrated with the lack of coverage they receive during the race broadcasts? Amy has all the small teams covered each and every week in The Big Six (THIS WEEK’S LINK: http://wp.me/p4LgN1-lxg). Be sure to check it out to see how your favorites fared!_



About the author

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Amy is an 20-year veteran NASCAR writer and a six-time National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) writing award winner, including first place awards for both columns and race coverage. As well as serving as Photo Editor, Amy writes The Big 6 (Mondays) after every NASCAR Cup Series race. She can also be found working on her bi-weekly columns Holding A Pretty Wheel (Tuesdays) and Only Yesterday (Wednesdays). A New Hampshire native whose heart is in North Carolina, Amy’s work credits have extended everywhere from driver Kenny Wallace’s website to Athlon Sports. She can also be heard weekly as a panelist on the Hard Left Turn podcast that can be found on AccessWDUN.com's Around the Track page.

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