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News from the track: Pocono Raceway

From The Marbles

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Those there are the lucky dice that hung inside Tony Stewart's car last year at Pocono Raceway. Considering how Smoke is running this season, he might consider breaking them out this weekend.

Stewart is scheduled to talk to the media Friday afternoon. Jeff Burton and Kyle Busch will talk before the first practice. We'll see what they have to say about their dust-up following the Coca-Cola 600. Stick around here all day Friday and we'll fill you in on what people are saying, who's fast in practice and anything else that goes on at the track.

Here are a couple of notes to get us started:

• Qualifying begins at 3:30 p.m. ET.

• In 46 Pocono starts, Mark Martin has 32 top-10 finishes, but no wins.

• Only two drivers have a single-digit average finish at Pocono: Denny Hamiln (9.5) and Jimmie Johnson (9.8).

10:50 a.m. ET: Jeff Burton said he and Kyle Busch haven't talked since their run in last weekend at Charlotte, but not because they're avoiding each other, but because Burton has been busy.

Burton said his position on the incident hasn't changed. He understands that Kyle wasn't trying to cut his tire, which is ultimately what happened.

11:32: When asked about being the points leader, Kevin Harvick said, "Right now, it's all about making the Chase, being in the position we're in right now we want to win a couple more races to get some more bonus points."

"I was mad because we've had great race cars ... and don't have a whole lot to show for it. And it's getting frustrating.

"I like racing with Kyle. We won't have any problems moving forwards.

"To his credit, he handled last week pretty well," Burton said, adding that it's hard to remain composed when you've got people in your face.

"All Kyle was trying to do was win the race, and I don't have a problem with that. All I was asking for was a little more respect.

"I don't want to keep reliving this. I've got a 14-year-old daughter. I've got all the drama I need."

10:59: Burton said one of the reason he confronted Kyle following the race is because of how intense this year has been for him. "This is my best shot to win a championship. I honestly believe that," he explained. "So this means a lot to me."

11:05: Kyle Busch said he "had no idea how I touched" Burton. But when he got out of his car, Busch found a four-inch piece of metal sticking out of the side of his car. That's what cut Burton's tire.

Asked if people give him the benefit of the doubt, he responded, "You know I don't get benefit of the doubt. So it's always my fault."

Later, Busch said, "If I would have done [what Burton did], it would have been called childish antics."

Here's what both had to say:

11:32: When asked about being the points leader, Kevin Harvick said, "Right now, it's all about making the Chase, being in the position we're in right now we want to win a couple more races to get some more bonus points."

11:41: Harvick, on being overlooked: "If we win it quietly, I'm fine with that."

12:00: That's it for morning press conferences. Next up is a 90-minute practice.

12:25 p.m.: How's this for confident - Clint Bowyer logged just four laps before heading back to the garage to switch into qualifying trim. Bowyer, obviously happy with his car, clocked the fastest lap in the early going.

What does this mean? If you've got Bowyer in your fantasy lineup, start him.

1:15: What slump? Jimmie Johnson has taken over the top spot in the first practice at Pocono, with Kyle Busch (who says he's not very good at Pocono) running second fastest.

1:18: That didn't last long. Now AJ Allmendinger has taken over the top spot.

1:23: And the shuffle atop the practice charts continue as drivers make their qualifying runs. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is now number one.

1:28: As the first practice comes to a close, Jimmie Johnson has retaken the top spot on the speed chart.

1:30: Practice No. 1 is in the books. Here's how they ranked: Jimmie Johnson, Juan Pablo Montoya, Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., AJ Allmendinger, Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton and Martin Truex Jr.

1:40: Carl Edwards will be using the new Ford engine this weekend. He said he's trying "hard not to think about it." Right now, Edwards said, he doesn't notice a huge difference, but is hoping it will provide an advantage as they use it more and more.

1:44: Is Edwards frustrated? "Roush Fenway and the Ford race cars - we're not as fast as we need to be right now. ... We just need to be faster. People ask me all different ways ... The point is we're just not fast enough."

2:00: Tony Stewart stopped by the media center to promote Wednesday's Prelude to a Dream, which you can watch via pay-per-view on HBO. He's asking for help from the media to promote the race, which is for a good cause - various children's hospital charities - so we'll give it.

But we'd also like to send a message to Smoke, who refused to answer questions about this weekend's race at Pocono: If you want help from the media, you might help us do our jobs in return.

I'm all for helping him however we can to promote the Prelude, but we also have a job to do, and that job is to inform NASCAR fans about what's going on in NASCAR. And one of the things fans want to know is what's going on with Stewart, who has been struggling this season.

I don't think answering a few questions about NASCAR is asking a lot, especially when you're asking us to help you, Tony.

2:18: Jimmie Johnson is pulling double duty this weekend. He'll also be competing in the Grand-Am race at Watkins Glen, presumably to get him more seat time on a road course.

2:20: Aric Almirola will serve as a backup driver for Johnson just in case he has to vacate the car with the pending birth of his first child, expected within in the next month.

The due date is in July, during the off week. Johnson said he hopes he won't have to vacate the car, but he says he will consider not racing in order to be present for the birth of his daughter. But, he said, if he has to vacate the car his first plan would be to run at least one lap during the race in order to get the points.

3:10: What did Jeff Gordon learn at the test at Watkins Glen in which he and Marcos Ambrose swapped cars for a few laps? "When Marcos Ambrose runs fast on a road course, it's not his race car."

Gordon said when he got in Ambrose's car, he got slower; when Ambrose got in his car, Ambrose got faster.

That should tell you a little something about their respective equipment.

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