NASCAR heads to Pocono Raceway this weekend for the Pocono 400. Sunday’s race is the first of two Tricky Triangle races on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule.
FanDuel debuted its new daily fantasy NASCAR contest at Talladega Superspeedway a few weeks ago and it will continue throughout the 2018 season.
FanDuel has put more of an emphasis on finishing position than other DFS sites. For this reason, FanDuel allows you to look at the entire field instead of just dominators and big movers.
Also, with only 0.1 points awarded for each lap led by a driver, the need for a dominator is less important when building a winning lineup. This 160-lap race will only have a total of 16 points up for grabs in this category. So take note when building your roster and focus on mid-pack drivers who can climb up toward the front on race day.
Here are a few drivers to keep an eye on for the Pocono 400.
ELITE TIER: $10,000 and up
Kevin Harvick ($13,500)
Pocono: 34 starts, 10 top fives, 15 top 10s
Average finish at Pocono: 13.0
Harvick has yet to win at Pocono but was runner up in both 2017 contests. He has finished inside the top 10 in six of the last seven races at the track.
Harvick was forced to start from the back last weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway due to inspection issues. However, he fought his way inside the top five during the first stage of the 600-mile race. But while putting together an impressive run through the field, he blew a tire and hit the wall, ending what was another front-running performance.
Harvick has five wins in 2018 and it is not even halfway through the season. There’s no stopping the No. 4 team right now; look for them to bounce right back from adversity.
Kyle Busch ($12,000)
Pocono: 26 starts, one win, five top fives, 11 top 10s
Average finish at Pocono: 17.5
Busch started on the pole in both Pocono races last season. In the June event, he was leading with just over 10 laps to go when a caution killed his chance at victory. His old tires were no match for race winner Ryan Blaney, the young talent who passed him for his first career win. Busch slipped to a ninth-place result.
But in the July race, Busch crossed Pocono off the list of tracks he had yet to win. He led 74 of the 160 laps en route to his first victory at the Tricky Triangle.
Coming off a historic win at Charlotte, Busch will be an early favorite for this weekend. The pressure is off this team and the fight is on to accumulate playoff points.
Denny Hamlin ($11,300)
Pocono: 24 starts, four wins, 10 top fives, 15 top 10s
Average finish at Pocono: 11.8
Hamlin is known for his short track prowess, but he jumpstarted his MENCS career at Pocono. Hamlin swept the poles during those two races his rookie season and reached Victory Lane in both races as well. He led 151 of 160 laps in the second Pocono event.
Hamlin has yet to win and lock himself into the playoffs this season. However, he has a shot to do that this weekend and you shouldn’t count him out. He’s been a quiet top-five contender in recent weeks with speed just below that of Harvick and Busch.
Ryan Blaney ($10,000)
Pocono: Four starts, one win, one top five, two top 10s
Average finish at Pocono: 13.0
This Pocono MENCS race last season was one of the most memorable of 2017. Blaney’s late-race pass for the win was among the more popular in recent memory.
Blaney has three top-11 finishes in his four career starts at Pocono. The No. 12 Ford has been the car to beat in multiple races this season, leading 418 laps which is third best to Busch and Harvick. It seems only a matter of time before the wins start to trickle in for him at Team Penske.
ALL-STAR TIER: $8,900 – $9,900
Erik Jones ($9,700)
Pocono: Two starts, one top five, two top 10s
Average finish at Pocono: 5.5
Jones had a top-three car last weekend at Charlotte but miscues ended any chance he had at a good finish. The 2017 MENCS Rookie of the Year is still looking for his first career Cup win.
In his two starts at Pocono, Jones has been as good as anyone. He finished third in his debut last season, leading 20 laps and coming up just short to Blaney. In the second stop in Pennsylvania, Jones finished eighth, collecting four more laps led. Mark his No. 20 Toyota as a dark horse for Sunday’s event.
Jimmie Johnson ($9,400)
Pocono: 32 starts, three wins, 11 top fives, 19 top 10s
Average finish at Pocono: 12.1
Last week’s third-place finish at Charlotte was a much-needed shot in the arm for Hendrick Motorsports and, more specifically, the No. 48 team. Johnson and Co. have struggled mightily through the first part of this season but are slowly starting to find speed.
Now, Johnson needs to carry that momentum into Pocono. The seven-time champion ranks 12th in points but still needs a win to lock himself into the playoffs. Johnson has three career wins at this track and could also add a fourth under the right circumstances.
Daniel Suarez ($9,200)
Pocono: Two starts, one top 10
Average finish at Pocono: 11.0
Like Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Jones, Suarez has only two starts at Pocono. The MENCS sophomore finished 15th with one lap led in the first race and improved to a seventh-place finish in the second.
Suarez has shown much improvement over the first half of this season. His four-race streak of 11th place or better has also put him on the map as a potential MENCS playoff driver. He has consistently run inside the top 15 in 13 races thus far and has the track record to continue that Sunday.
BARGAIN TIER: $8,800 and below
Ryan Newman ($7,600)
Pocono: 32 starts, one win, nine top fives, 14 top 10s
Average finish at Pocono: 12.8
Newman had a rocket for a car at Charlotte and ran inside the top 10 during the entirety of the Coca-Cola 600’s first half. But a pit road penalty and an eventual mechanical issue ended any hope of a good finish.
If Richard Childress Racing can supply Newman with anything close to what he had at Charlotte, that could make him a fantasy sleeper at Pocono. Newman also has four top-15 finishes here which shows some consistency for his No. 31 Chevrolet.
Pre-Qualifying Optimal Lineup Example: