The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series makes its way to Pocono Raceway for the second time this season. The green flag flies for Sunday’s (July 29) Gander Outdoors 400 at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
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FanDuel has put more 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. The 160-lap race will only have a total of 16.0 points up for grabs in this category. Take note when building your roster and focus on midpack drivers who can climb up toward the front on race day.
Here are a few people to keep an eye on heading into the Gander Outdoors 400.
ELITE TIER: $10,600 and up
Kyle Busch ($12,500)
Pocono: 27 starts, one win, six top fives, 12 top 10s
Average finish at Pocono: 17.0
Busch won this exact race a season ago, the first of his career at Pocono. He started on the pole and led 74 laps, erasing some ugly past history here with his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
That strength has continued right into 2018. During the first Pocono race this June, Busch started fifth and finished third. Overall, he has now led laps in the last six races held at the track.
Busch has five wins so far in 2018 and leads the MENCS point standings. He’s a low-risk option to produce a top-five finish this Sunday.
Kyle Larson ($11,500)
Pocono: Nine starts, two top fives, five top 10s
Average finish at Pocono: 10.6
Pocono is one track where Larson has had sustained success since making the climb to the Cup level back in 2014. Before last season’s July race, Larson had finished all seven of his Pocono races inside the top 12.
Larson has four runner-up finishes in 2018 and this race back in June was one of them. Expect the No. 42 team to be Chevrolet’s best driver again this weekend.
Brad Keselowski ($11,000)
Pocono: 17 starts, one win, nine top fives, 10 top 10s
Average finish at Pocono: 10.2
Through 17 starts at Pocono, Keselowski has the best average finish among all active drivers. In fact, he is on an impressive six-race top-five finish streak at the “Tricky Triangle.” The driver of Team Penske’s No. 2 Ford has also led laps in the last four Pocono races.
Keselowski has not won yet this season, surprising considering the strength of Penske overall. He finished third at Kentucky two weeks ago, but that finish is sandwiched between a 36th at Daytona and a 32nd at New Hampshire. This veteran is due for a commanding performance up front.
Ryan Blaney ($10,700)
Pocono: Five starts, one win, one top five, three top 10s
Average finish at Pocono: 11.6
Blaney may be the most popular non-“Big Three” pick heading into the weekend. He has been a top-of-the-line driver at Pocono throughout his young career, finishing 10th in his first Cup race here in 2016. He followed that up with an 11th-place finish later that year before cashing in at Pocono in June 2017. Blaney led a late-race charge in that race past Kyle Busch to earn his first Cup Series win.
Blaney started on the pole here a month ago and finished sixth with 11 laps led. The No. 12 Ford may not win this weekend but it’ll run solidly inside the top 10.
ALL-STAR TIER: $8,900 – $10,500
Chase Elliott ($9,500)
Pocono: Five starts, one top fives, four top 10s
Average finish at Pocono: 13.0
Elliott has four top-10 finishes in five career Pocono starts. He led 51 laps in his debut and finished fourth. In 2017, he then had runs of eighth and 10th before adding a 10th this June. This third-year youngster is a top-10 driver, priced very reasonably this weekend and a perfect mid-level pick to solidify your fantasy roster.
Elliott had a great race at New Hampshire last weekend as he was a stage winner, led 23 laps and finished fifth. If Dawsonville’s finest is indeed heating up, it could make for another exciting race at Pocono.
Jimmie Johnson ($9,100)
Pocono: 33 starts, three wins, 11 top fives, 20 top 10s
Average finish at Pocono: 12.0
Johnson has had a rough 2018 season but he did run well in the first Pocono stop. He led two laps, his first of the season then finished eighth to build momentum in the No. 48 camp.
In fact, Pocono was one of the best races for the entire Hendrick Motorsports stable this year. If Johnson can carry that speed back to the track, he could make for a sneaky pick.
BARGAIN TIER: $8,800 and below
Austin Dillon ($7,300)
Pocono: Nine starts, five top 15s
Average finish at Pocono: 17.8
Dillon is by no means an elite driver despite winning the 2018 Daytona 500. But at a $7,300 price tag, he could also give you leeway to add a top-tier alternative. Dillon has five top-15 finishes in nine career Pocono starts and also has just one DNF.
Running 12th earlier this season, a repeat performance gives him a chance to be in the winning lineup.