The site of this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is Pocono Raceway, located in beautiful Pocono, Pennsylvania. Nicknamed “The Tricky Triangle,” this 2.5-mile race track will really test the driving (and shifting) skill of the drivers on Sunday. Because horsepower is such a big deal here, expect to see many of the “big dogs” run up front all day. We’re less likely to see sleeper picks get a good result here but it’s not unheard of. Here are some guys to keep an eye on in the Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400 on Sunday.
Fantasy Sleepers for Pocono
David Ragan – Surprised? Don’t be. I feel like David Ragan is finally settling into his Michael Waltrip Racing ride and we could see some good runs out of him here soon. I also feel like the MWR organization is starting to make a comeback because they’ve been pretty far behind all season long. Anyway, David had a great qualifying run in Charlotte (7th) but a blown engine relegated him to a 41st-place finish. Last week at Dover, however, Ragan and the #55 team had a pretty quiet race but stayed out of trouble and ended up 13th. Not too shabby. Another reason I like him as a (deep) sleeper this week is because he finished 18th and 19th in the two Pocono races last season, and that’s while he was running for Front Row Motorsports. It honestly wouldn’t surprise me to see Ragan run top 15 here on Sunday. In The Showcase, David will receive 12 handicap points for the Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400. This means that a 12th-place finish would net you top 5-like points. With that being said, there’s no way I’m going to pick Ragan here at Fantasy Racing Online but in other leagues he might be a very valuable lower tier fantasy pick on Sunday.
Jamie McMurray – Jamie Mac came home with a 7th-place finish at Dover last weekend and that makes it seven of the last eight Sprint Cup races that he has ended up 14th or better. You can’t ask for much more out of this #1 team. Oh, and the exception in that eight was Jamie’s 19th-place finish at Charlotte a couple of weeks ago. Not too shabby. Here at Pocono, McMurray owns just a 19.8 career average finish but he ended up top 10 in both races here last season. Also, Jamie hasn’t posted a result worse than 17th at Pocono since the 2011 season. Believe it or not, that’s pretty impressive because races can get somewhat unpredictable at “The Tricky Triangle.” Because of his good finishes both here at Pocono as well as recently in the Sprint Cup Series, McMurray will only receive 4 handicap points in The Showcase this weekend. It would take the #1 Chevrolet looking like a top 5 car all weekend for me to consider Jamie McMurray in this game on Sunday.
Aric Almirola – Well, the #43 team finally broke through at Dover and got their first top 5 finish of the 2015 season. It was also their first top 10 result of this year’s campaign. With that being said, they’re actually not having too bad of a year because Almirola has been incredibly consistent. That 5th-place finish is Aric’s third top 15 in the last four Sprint Cup races and his sixth of the last nine. It’s worth noting that he has only finished worse than 20th once thus far in 2015, and that was his 26th-place result at Las Vegas way back in March. I was surprised by that as well. Here at Pocono, Almirola’s career best finish so far has been 18th but I think he has the potential to establish a new career best here on Sunday. It’s worth paying a little attention to the #43 Ford during practice this weekend, in my opinion. In The Showcase, Aric Almirola will receive a middle-of-the-road 8 handicap points for this week’s race. For me to seriously consider him on my roster, I’d have to view the #43 Ford as a legitimate top 10 threat on Sunday.