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The engine starts normal after the first initial hard start correct?
My initial thought is a defective fuel pump. The fuel pump has a check valve that prevents fuel from draining back over night or sitting. That will cause excessive cranking because the fuel system has to reprime itself. Another thing when it is acting strange is unplug the mass air flow system. If the mass air flow is dirty enough it can affect cold starting. I would try these things first.
So it sounds like a fuel problem. You could have a bad camshaft sensor or metal shavings throwing off the sensor.
It's possible. To know its not a fuel issue for sure you need to perform a fuel pressure test and leak down test.
If you unplug the mass air flow sensor does it make a difference?
Sounds good. It's going to run rough when unplugged for sure. If it makes easier starting it will help though.
How fresh is the fuel in the tank?
It's possible it could be the PCM. If the PCM has any moisture inside it can cause this issue. They are a pain to diagnose though.