Early Week Driver Rankings for Pocono

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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will return to Poc0no Raceway for the second time in the last eight weeks. Although NASCAR will not admit it, the first race at Pocono was the worst race of the season. I understand NASCAR is trying hard to find an aero package that works at each track but Pocono is Pocono… it is just hard to produce good racing at this goofy-shaped track. Now we get to sit through four more hours of boring racing. Yeah!!! Thank you NASCAR. The Gander RV 400 can be seen Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.

NASCAR will be back to a condensed schedule. The MENCS will have two practices Saturday. The first practice is at 9 a.m. ET and final practice is at 11 a.m. ET (both on NBCSN). Qualifying is Saturday evening at 4 p.m. ET (NBCSN).

The MENCS will be back to the crazy inspection process. The cars will qualify Saturday and they will be inspected Sunday morning. All cars who fail the inspection Sunday morning will start from the back. Their official starting position will be from the back and they will be scored from the back in Fantasy NASCAR.

The cars will be back to 550 HP engines with the higher down-force aero package. This package produced the fewest quality green flag passes in the last 12 seasons at Pocono. Actually, according at NASCAR analytics, 78% of the passes came within 4 laps of the restart. So once the race got into a long run it was time to take a nap. Track position will be very important this week.

My early week pick for the pole is William Byron. The No. 24 car won the pole for the last race at Pocono and Byron could easily do it again. This aero pack allows teams to determine where they want to start the race. Teams who take down force out of their car (lowering the car) will sacrifice handling in the race but gain speed to start up front. Crew chief Chad Knaus seems to like to provide a fast car for Byron so he can start up front. He did it in June at Pocono and I think Knaus will do it again Saturday.

Each week I use different stats in my model to create the best rankings possible to give you an edge on the completion. This week I did not get too deep in the metrics used to determine the Driver Rankings. I used Driver Ratings at Pocono, Average Running Position in the June race at Pocono, Driver Ranking in the June race at Pocono and momentum over the last five races (No including Daytona or Sonoma).

 

Here are the early week driver rankings for Pocono…

1. Kyle Busch
2. Brad Keselowski
3. Martin Truex Jr.
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Kurt Busch
6. Denny Hamlin
7. Kyle Larson
8. Ryan Blaney
9. Clint Bowyer
10. Erik Jones
11. Chase Elliott
12. Joey Logano
13. Daniel Suarez
14. Ryan Newman
15. William Byron
16. Aric Almirola
17. Alex Bowman
18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
19. Chris Buescher
20. Jimmie Johnson
21. Paul Menard
22. Daniel Hemric
23. Austin Dillon
24. Michael McDowell
25. Matt Dibenedetto
26. Darrell Wallace Jr.
27. Ryan Preece
28. Ty Dillon
29. David Ragan
30. Corey Lajoie
31. Matt Tifft
32. Ross Chastian
33. Bayley Currey
34. Reed Sorenson
35. Landon Cassill
36. Quinn Houff

 

* I will post my final driver rankings Saturday night.

**Stats from Driveraverages.com and NASCAR Media. Career stats from Racing-Reference.Info

*** Photos from NASCAR Media

 

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