The above picture is a good representation of what this weekend has been for Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams (as well as fantasy players): a clusterf**k. But more on that later.
Pocono Raceway is the site of this weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, a track notorious for having terrible weather on race weekends. The good news is that the forecast for Sunday’s Gander Outdoors 400 is infinitely better than what we dealt with at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last weekend, and there should be no issue getting the full event in on Sunday afternoon. This is the Cup Series’ second stop at Pocono this year, with Martin Truex, Jr. taking home the trophy the first time around. “The Big Three” really dominated that whole race, leading 133 of the 160 laps between them, and finishing 1st (Truex), 3rd (Kyle Busch), and 4th (Harvick). Typically the two Pocono races see the same faces up front, so if you’re sick of those three drivers running well…sorry about your luck.
Pocono is a huge 2.5-mile track that has three very distinct corners. Because of its size, we’re looking at a relatively short race from a laps perspective, as there are only 160 scheduled for Sunday. This means only 40 FPTS for laps led when it comes to DraftKings. As far as fastest laps, we usually get around 130 green flag laps at Pocono, so we’re looking at between 60 and 65 FPTS up for grabs there. The last three races at “The Tricky Triangle” have been won by someone starting inside the top 5.
GPP Drivers I Love For The Pocono 2 Gander Outdoors 400
NASCAR’s absolutely ridiculous inspection procedure struck again this weekend as we had more than a handful of cars fail and have their qualifying times disallowed. Because the time is disallowed, those drivers will start from the back and also be scored there for DraftKings, meaning they all suddenly have a huge playability value thanks to the place differential potential. The drivers that failed qualifying inspection are as follows, with their original qualifying position in parenthesis: Kevin Harvick (1st), Kyle Busch (2nd), Kyle Larson (4th), Joey Logano (5th), William Byron (6th), Austin Dillon (12th), Jimmie Johnson (15th), Paul Menard (17th), Ryan Blaney (18th), Aric Almirola (19th), Clint Bowyer (21st), Bubba Wallace (22nd), and Kasey Kahne (24th).
Brad Keselowski ($9,400) – No, he’s not going to get you many place differential points since he starts up in 4th, but Brad Keselowski certainly has the potential to lead a bunch of laps on Sunday. This guy is no stranger to the lead here at Pocono, as he consistently finds ways to get to the front whether he has the fastest car or not. Kez led 10 laps here in June, 6 laps in the last July race, and 11 in the early 2017 event. As far as fastest laps go, the #2 Ford posted 19 here back in June and 11 fastest laps in the 2017 July race. Supposedly Penske has found a little bit more speed lately, and this is the weekend that Brad could really shine, with the clear favorites of Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch failing inspection. I only like Keselowski in GPP plays, but there’s a reason why he has six straight top 5 finishes at this track. At $9,400 in DraftKings, that’s actually a pretty low salary for a near-lock top 5.
Erik Jones ($8,100) – Let’s try this again. Erik Jones laid an egg last week at Loudon, but to be fair, he had a pretty good car in the early stages of the race before his team killed it with some major adjustments. This weekend, there’s going to be much less time for adjustments by the crew, so the fact that the #20 Toyota looks to have so much speed in it heading into Sunday is a great sign. Jones had a top 10 qualifying effort here on Saturday, which in and of itself is going to keep his ownership percentage low. Additionally, he’s right there in the price range of Aric Almirola ($8,200) and Ryan Blaney ($8,500), who each failed to make it to the final round of qualifying. In other words, Jones presents a great pivot option here, and he could possibly come away with a top 5 finish (and at a discount from Almirola/Blaney). Additionally, there’s a chance that Erik goes out there and leads some laps early, like he did in the two races here last season. The #20 Toyota was 4th-best in overall average speed in Practice #1 and ranked 8th-best on that chart in Happy Hour. Jones finished 3rd and 8th in his two starts here last season, and for what it’s worth, he did get some extra track time this weekend while subbing for Noah Gragson in the Truck Series race.
Austin Dillon ($7,100) – Yeah, Austin Dillon is going to be one of the chalk plays here on Sunday thanks to his qualifying time being disallowed (he’ll start 37th), but he’s also the highest-priced of those guys that aren’t true top 10 contenders. In other words, I’m kind of hoping that causes Austin Dillon to be less owned than he should. The fact of the matter is that Pocono is actually a pretty good racetrack for this kid, as he has finished 13th or better in four of his last six starts here–including a 12th-place effort here back in June. Overall, Austin’s average finish at Pocono is a healthy 17.8, and it doesn’t hurt that he has speed in the #3 Chevrolet this weekend; Dillon ranked 14th-fastest in Practice #1 on Saturday and then ended up 12th-fastest in Happy Hour (with the 4th-best ten-lap average). A 13th-place finish out of Austin Dillon on Sunday would net 55 base FPTS on DraftKings.
When it comes to DraftKings strategy at Pocono, it’s usually imperative to have the main dominator in your lineup. Typically there is just one, maybe two dominators in a race here. Back in the June race, Kevin Harvick led the way with 39.75 dominator FPTS with Martin Truex, Jr. coming in second with 23.75 dominator FPTS. Together those two accounted for 60% of the dominator FPTS. Last year’s second Pocono race saw Kyle Busch rack up 36.5 dominator FPTS with Truex again coming in second with 18.75 dominator FPTS. Those two took 46% of the dominator FPTS in that race. In the first Pocono race of 2017, though it was a little different, as Kyle Busch had 42 dominator FPTS with Erik Jones coming in next at 12 dominator FPTS and Truex ending up with 11.25 dominator FPTS. Those three took 60% of the dominator FPTS.
As far as this weekend goes, it WAS looking like we’re going to have one main dominator: Kevin Harvick ($11,200). The #4 Ford has been in its own ZIP code all weekend long, and Harvick was on the pole for Sunday’s Gander Outdoors 400….until he failed qualifying inspection. Now instead of a ton of dominator FPTS we’ll be looking at place differential points from Harvick on Sunday, and the same can be said for Kyle Busch ($11,800), who also had his qualifying time disallowed. Between the two, I think Harvick will put up much more dominator FPTS on Sunday, but they’re both obviously premium plays. You could fade one (or both) and hope that something crazy happens during the race, but the chances of that happening aren’t very high.
We have so many drivers that failed qualifying inspection that the number of potential drivers to utilize this weekend is sky-high. But keep in mind, though: not everyone can make their way to the front. In other words, don’t be afraid to throw on one or two drivers that passed inspection, because they’re in the best position to finish up front, as well as get dominator points.
Drivers to Fade at “The Tricky Triangle”
It’s much easier for me to just list these guys, so that’s what I’m going to do. The following drivers will be between 0-10% ownership for me on Sunday, with most being at the 0% mark. The number in parenthesis is starting position.
Daniel Suarez (1st) … Denny Hamlin (2nd) … Jamie McMurray (5th) … Chase Elliott (6th) … Ryan Newman (9th) … Alex Bowman (10th) … Matt Kenseth (11th) … Chris Buescher (12th) … A.J. Allmendinger (14th) … Ty Dillon (15th) … Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (17th) … Matt DiBenedetto (18th) … Jeffrey Earnhardt (19th) … J.J. Yeley (20th) … Kyle Weatherman (23rd) … Landon Cassill (24th) … Reed Sorenson (25th) … BJ McLeod (26th) … Timmy Hill (27th)
Driver Point Projections for the Gander Outdoors 400
The following chart takes into account the very basics: the starting position and the projected finish of each driver. The projected finishes are averaged from five different ranking systems, using both mathematical equations as well as personal rankings. This chart also includes the average projected base + laps led + fastest laps DraftKings FPTS as well as the dollar per FPT. You can click the headers below to sort the chart by that attribute. By default it is sorted by average projected FPTS.
|Driver||DraftKings Salary||Avg Proj FPTS||Starting Position||Avg. Projected Finish||Proj Laps Led||Proj Fastest Laps||Dollar Per FPT|
|Martin Truex Jr||$11,500||58.8||8||04.4||20||20||$196|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||$7,600||19.0||17||21.0||0||0||$400|