Welcome back, everyone, to this week’s edition of the Fantasy Insider. At Charlotte, Jimmie Johnson really let us down, while Kurt Busch far exceeded any expectations in the Coca-Cola 600. But all was not lost for our fantasy rosters, as two other picks, David Reutimann and Jamie McMurray, posted top-five finishes — plus, Matt Kenseth had a top 10 and Sam Hornish Jr. came home a very respectable 17th. Not too bad of a week when you get those kind of numbers.
Now, we transition from the longest race of the year to what feels like the longest – 500 miles at that tricky triangle in the Pennsylvania mountains. Who’s going to lead your team to victory this weekend at Pocono? Read on to get all the stats you need to pick another winning lineup.
This week’s best bets are two drivers who are not quite having their best runs at the moment; however, Pocono provides a prime opportunity to turn things around in a hurry. Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards have both had tremendous success at the track, poised to break out of season-long slumps with top-five results. Edwards has posted top 10s in three of the last four races at the big tri-oval in the woods, earning an average finish of 13th there for his career. Leading 103 laps at the triangle last June, it’s the closest he’s come to ending a 49-race winless drought that should have been snapped long ago. So expect him to contend once again, and at the very least post another top 10. As for Stewart, he swept the pole for both events in 2009, ran top 10 in both and got his first points win as an owner/driver in this race last June.
Who Will Carry You
The trio of unknowns who will score big finishes for their respective point values this week are Hornish Jr., AJ Allmendinger and Brad Keselowski. The ‘Dinger has run five times at Pocono, pulling off a top 20 in three of those events. His average finish there is 23rd, which is right where he sits in the points. Consider AJ a cheap date that looks like a top-20 finisher for your team.
Keselowski is making his first trip to Pennsylvania’s tri-oval, but is on a pretty good streak of solid performances as of late. He’s finished in the top 20 in eight of the last nine events, with the lone blemish being at Talladega where he got caught up in a wreck. At 25th in points, he is also inexpensive to have on your team, and will continue his top-20 tear this Sunday.
Hornish Jr. finally got it together last weekend despite missing pit road once and getting penalized another time, recovering for a solid 17th in the Coca-Cola 600. Last year, he finished in the top 10 in both Pocono races, including a fourth-place effort in July. At 29th in points, he’s a great value pick and well worth the gamble for a second straight top-20 finish.
Who Will Bury You
Despite his recent run of success, Kyle Busch is not the man you want to pin your hopes on this weekend. Having said that, my recent failures in predicting who not to have on your team probably has Kyle thrilled to see himself in this section of my column. Mr. Busch has just a pair of top-10 finishes in 10 tries here, and one of those was the rain-shortened event in 2007 where they completed just 106 of 200 laps. With an average finish of 21st, the second-place point man is way too expensive to gamble on running high teens to low 20s. Avoid him at Pocono at all costs.
So there you have it! Enough information to go out and pick yourself a winning team again this weekend. Make sure to check back next Thursday, when we’ll preview the fuel mileage extravaganza from Michigan International Speedway. And don’t forget to check the updated standings for Frontstretch’s fantasy racing Game of Tomorrow and see how your team compares to mine.