Daily Fantasy NASCAR Race Preview - Overton's 400
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Pocono Raceway - Long Pond, PA
Track - 2.5 Mile Tri-Oval
Banking - 6° to 14°
Laps - 160
This week the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns to Pocono Raceway for the second time in less than two months. Ryan Blaney picked up his first career Cup win in June after getting around race dominator Kyle Busch and holding off "The Closer" Kevin Harvick.
In my June write-up for the Pocono 400, I mentioned it was likely we would see multiple drivers leading 20+ laps and I was sort of right. Erik Jones led exactly 20 laps while his Toyota teammate Kyle Busch led 100 laps, the only time in the last six races someone has done that. I also mentioned it comes down to what team makes the right adjustments throughout the race to have a balanced car that can handle all three corners here at the Tricky Triangle. The correlation to starting position was also very high last race as seven of the Top 10 started the day there and just one driver who started outside the Top 20 finished inside the Top 10.
This week will also be the first time in the Cup series where Qualifying and the race will be held on the same day. There are two practice rounds starting Saturday morning at 9:00 am ET with Qualifying coming at 11:30 am Et on Sunday morning followed by the race at 3:00 pm ET. As a fan, I think this is a great idea but as a writer/content provider, it is going to be a nightmare rushing around after qualifying to update the spreadsheet and either make a final picks article or video with the top picks. We all know how important qualifying is to determine the top plays.
Before all of that happens we can take a look at some of the top trends here at Pocono going into the weekend.
Last Six Winners
- 2017 - Ryan Blaney (Started 4th)
- 2016 - Chris Buescher (Started 22nd)
- 2016 - Kurt Busch (Started 9th)
- 2015 - Matt Kenseth (Started 7th)
- 2015 - Martin Truex Jr. (Started 3rd)
- 2014 - Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Started 9th)
Top 5 Current Track History at Pocono
The first thing that stands out is the youngsters who sit inside the Top 3 on this list. Small sample size but Erik Jones looked impressive in June with 3rd place finish after starting 15th and ended up with the second most DK points. Ryan Blaney won the race here in June and finished 11th and 10th last year. Brad Keselowski has been the most consistent of the drivers who have raced here five times as he has four Top 5's and a 5.8 average finish. Matt Kenseth won here in August 2015 and has a Top 10 finish in four of his last five races here.
Top 5 Career Track History at Pocono
Outside of Jones and Blaney, up and coming superstar Kyle Larson has been pretty good here at the Tricky Triangle finishing all seven races inside the Top 20 with four Top 10's and an 8.6 average finish. Denny Hamlin leads all active drivers with four wins here with Jimmie Johnson(3) and Kurt Busch(3) right in his rearview mirror. Jimmie Johnson has the edge on the toher two when looking at laps led as he sits with 738 for his career.
Top 5 Current Track Type History
Looking at the results from Indianapolis and Pocono combined since the start of 2015, it is Matt Kenseth leading the way with a win, three Top 5's and seven Top 10 finishes. Brad Keselowski hasn't won here since 2011 but has been awesome on these two tracks recently with five Top 5's and six Top 10 finishes including a 2nd and a 5th at Pocono last year. Kevin Harvick is the only other driver with an average finish below 10 on these two tracks and has been very consistent with seven Top 10's in eight races.
Top 5 Current Form (last six races)
What stands out the most this week, from a form perspective, is that no one driver is dominating over the last month and a half. Denny Hamlin has been the best of the bunch and the only driver with an average finish below 10 to go with his win and four Top 5 finishes. Kevin Harvick and Jamie McMurray are next up with an 11.3 average finish each. Harvick has one more Top 10 but McMurray has one more Top 20. Kyle Busch, with his 337 laps over the last six races, headlines the average DraftKings points ranks with 49.6 per race.
Early Week Picks
Kyle Busch ($10,700) - He got unlucky once again last week after dominating the first half of the race(87 laps led) and was taken out on a restart by the #78 car. He also led the most laps here at Pocono in June before being passed late by the eventual winner Ryan Blaney. I say it every week. I will stay on the #18 bandwagon until Homestead.
Matt Kenseth ($9,200) - I love the value on Kenseth in the low $9K range this week as he returns to Pocono with some nice track history lately including a win in 2015 and four Top 10's in his last five races. HE and the #20 team should be all hands on deck over the next six races as Kenseth sits on the cutline for the playoffs.
Kurt Busch ($8,500) - I will be using Kurt in GPP only this week as he is already locked into the playoffs and has been very up and down since winning the Daytona 500. He does return to the trick Triangle with some awesome track history with a win, three Top 5's and four Top 10 finishes in his last five races here.
Chris Buescher ($6,200) - After picking up his first career here last summer in a rain-shortened race, no one expected him to win again in June but he was impressive for fantasy. He started 29th and picked up 10 place differential bonus points for a total of 35.5 DK points and he also is coming off a nice 52 DK point performance last week in Indy.
Below you will find a copy of my DFS NASCAR cheathsheet which includes Track History, Current Form, DraftKings points averages, Track Type History, Practice/Qualifying Ranks and much more. Get it HERE. I also have available my Race by Race Trends sheet you can view as well.
If you have any questions scroll down to the comment section and join the conversation.Good Luck everyone!
Chris Durell has been playing Daily Fantasy Sports for four years and fantasy in general for more than a decade. He is active player in NFL, MLB, NHL, PGA, and of course NASCAR. He lives in Saskatchewan, Canada with his wife and two daughters. You can follow him on Twitter at @jager_bombs9 for advice, strategy, answers to any NASCAR questions or how he copes with the winters up north.
- NASCAR Phoenix Auto Racing: (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)