The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series travels north this week for the Pocono 400. This will be one of the most unpredictable races of the season. The teams will use the 550 HP engines with the higher-downforce aero package. The cars will drive through the three corners of the Tricky Triangle wide open for the first time. It will be entertaining for sure. The Pocono 400 can be seen Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on FS1.
The MENCS will have a unique schedule this week. There will be two practices Friday. The first practice will be at 2 p.m. ET (No TV) and final practice will be at 4 p.m. ET on FS2. Yes, FS2…not FS1, so set your DVRs properly. Qualifying will be Saturday at 11:30 a.m. ET on FS1. My Fantasy Live pick for the pole will be posted Friday night.
NASCAR will have a post qualifying inspection Sunday. Any car that fails will start in the back in the Pocono 400. These cars will be scored from the back in Fantasy NASCAR since their qualifying time will be disallowed.
Ryan Blaney won the pole for the Pocono 400 last year. The No. 12 car led 11, scored 15 Stage points and finished 6th. Kevin Harvick had the best car. He led a race-high 89 laps, finished 2nd in Stage 1, won Stage 2 and finished 4th. Martin Truex Jr. won Stage 1, finished 4th in Stage 2, led 31 laps and went on to Victory Lane. It was the 2nd win for Truex at the Tricky Triangle.
Race Rewind at Pocono: Pocono 400 (2018)
Here are my picks for Pocono…
DraftKings NASCAR Preview
There are 160 laps in the race Sunday. That means there are 40 points available for leading laps and 80 points available for fastest laps. The trend at Pocono is to have one driver lead around 80 laps and two other drivers lead between 30-40 laps. The 2019 aero package has kept the cars closer together and allowed for more lead changes. I expect there to be more dominators Sunday.
I will be focusing on finishing position points and place differential this week. The 40 points for leading laps is not enough to chase Sunday. By selecting the drivers we think can run up front, we should be able to capture some of the laps led and fastest laps points.
The drivers I expect to dominate the race Sunday include: Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Chase Elliott
Top 15 DraftKings Drivers in Last 6 Races at Pocono
|Avg. Finish Pos.||Laps Led||
|1. Kevin Harvick||
|2. Kyle Busch||
|3. William Byron||
|4. Kyle Larson||
|5. Erik Jones||
|6. Brad Keselowski||
|7. Kurt Busch||
|8. Chase Elliott||
|9. Martin Truex Jr||
|10. Ryan Blaney||
|11. Daniel Suarez||
|12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||
|13. Clint Bowyer||
|14. Denny Hamlin||
|15. Ryan Newman||
I will post my final DraftKings picks no later than Sunday morning.
Fantasy Live Preview
I thought the Fantasy Live picks were toast after 20 laps of the Coca-Cola 600. Erik Jones popped a tire, got into the wall and it ended his race. Thank God for the Garage Driver. I immediately put in Denny Hamlin and the lineup was able to score 216 points. The Fantasy Live picks are now beating 98.7% of the competition. Another good race at Pocono should get us back into the top 99%.
*Pick for the Pole*: Our pick for the pole needs to be in before qualifying at 11:30 a.m. ET Saturday. My pole pick will be posted after the final practice Friday.
Here are the drivers I have penciled in right now…
5 Starting Drivers
Martin Truex Jr. (6): The No. 19 team is on quite the hot streak right now. Truex has won 3 of the last 5 races. He is also the defending race winner of the Pocono 400. This team has a lot of speed right now and it would not surprise anyone if they won again Sunday. Pocono is one of Truex’s 4 home tracks so he is always extra motivated to run well at the Tricky Triangle. I will use an allocation with Truex Sunday.
Brad Keselowski (4): Keselowski has been one of the most consistent drivers at Pocono. He has finished 6 of the last 7 races at the Tricky Triangle in the top 5. It would have been 7 for 7 but he was caught up in an accident last year. Keselowski has been very good I 2019. He has finished 3 races using the 550 HP engine, higher-downforce aero package in the top 3. Most teams expect the draft to be a factor in the race Sunday. If that is true, Keselowski should be in Victory Lane. He is one of the best at using the draft for his advantage.
Chase Elliott (6): Elliott is another driver who is on a hot streak. He has finished the last 4 races in the top 5. His average finishing position since early April is 3.5. I would gladly take a 3rd place finish from the No. 9 car this week. Elliott had one of the best cars in the last race at Pocono. He qualified 6th, won Stage 1, finished 2nd in Stage 2, led 14 laps and finished 7th. The No. 9 team is running better this season so I expect another top-5 finish from Elliott Sunday.
Kurt Busch (6): Busch is 2nd in the series with 3 wins at Pocono. His last trip to Victory Lane at the Tricky Triangle was in 2016. Busch is having a pretty solid 2019 season. He has finished 7 of the 8 races using the 550 HP engine, higher-downforce aero package in the top 10. That is a series best. He was well on his way to making it 8 for 8 but he slid into his brother at Charlotte. Busch should be a safe pick Sunday.
Alex Bowman (10): Bowman is running too well right now to ignore. The No. 88 car has finished 2nd, 2nd, 2nd and 7th in his last 4 races. There is a good chance Bowman will finish in the top 10 again Sunday. He had a very fast car in the last race at Pocono. He qualified 10th, finished both Stages in the top 10 and finished 3rd in the race. I have not used any allocations with Bowman this season and that is a mistake. I will use my first allocation with the No. 88 car Sunday.
My Garage Driver this week will likely be Ryan Blaney (5). Blaney loves to race at fast tracks. The 2019 aero package should produce some high speeds since the drivers will hold it wide open through the 3 corners. That should play right into the hands of Blaney. He won at Pocono in 2017 and Blaney ran very well in the Pocono 400 last year. The No. 12 team has been in a slump but Blaney ran well enough at Charlotte to give me confidence to put him in the Garage Sunday.
My Bonus Picks will be updated after I see the cars on the track this weekend. Here are my thoughts right now…
Pick for the Pole: Austin Dillon
Stage 1 Winner: Martin Truex Jr.
Stage 2 Winner: Brad Keselowski
Race Winner: Kyle Busch
Winning Manufacturer: Toyota
** Photos from NASCAR Media
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
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