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NASCAR DFS: Pennsylvania 400

NASCAR DFS Expert Brian Polking breaks down the top drivers to target on DraftKings for the Pennsylvania 400 this weekend!

Pennsylvania 400

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For the second time in less than two months, the Sprint Cup Series teams and fantasy NASCAR enthusiasts will have to try to figure out Pocono Raceway, and they don’t call the track the “Tricky Triangle” for no reason.

With a unique, triangular configuration and three sets of corners that were each modeled after a different track, it can be hard for drivers to find a setup that handles to their liking. Throw in the fact that the lack of banking makes passing difficult and often brings pit strategy into play, and it can be equally difficult to build a DFS NASCAR lineup that you have a lot of confidence.

Sunday’s Pennsylvania 400 is scheduled for 160 laps, which happens to be the same number of laps as last weekend’s race at Indianapolis. Compared to other races, the number of points available in the laps led and fastest laps run categories are limited. However, Kyle Busch’s dominant performance last weekend was a reminder that you can never ignore these two categories entirely.

Finding drivers that score a lot of points in the place differential category can also be difficult. Track position is crucial at Pocono, and not surprisingly, a lot of the drivers that start up front tend to finish there. In fact, at least eight drivers that have started in the top 15 have finished in the top 10 in each of the last four races here. In the June race this season, all ten drivers that finished in the top 10 started in the top 15, including all five drivers that qualified in the top five.

The bottom line is that you won’t want to put all your eggs in one basket at Pocono, and you need to make sure any DFS NASCAR lineup has the chance to earn significant points in all the scoring categories. Don’t underestimate the value of a driver that simply starts and finish in the top 10. A few drivers that score in the 30-point range paired with a couple of high scorers can get the job done.

Check back this weekend for updated picks, and in the meantime, here is a closer look at the drivers to keep an eye on heading into Sunday’s Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway. Qualifying is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. ET and the race is set for Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

High-Priced Drivers

Kevin Harvick ($10,500)

Although Harvick has had some bad luck at Pocono, he has shown the speed needed to dominate the laps led and fastest laps run categories. He led 39 laps and finished second in the June race in 2015, and he blew an engine while leading in the July race that same year. Earlier this season, Harvick led nine laps and recorded the second-most fastest laps before a pit-road penalty trapped him back in traffic.

Matt Kenseth ($9,800)

He was one of the big names you wanted to avoid at Pocono early in his career, but Kenseth has become a new man at the track since joining Joe Gibbs Racing. He as three straight finishes of seventh or better here, including a win in the July race last year. Back in June, Kenseth led 31 laps at Pocono while recording a race-high 22 fastest laps run. There is no doubt he can put up a big point total.

Joey Logano ($9,500)

Logano’s success at Pocono dates back to his Joe Gibbs Racing days, but he has been much more consistent here since joining Team Penske. He has five top 10s in seven starts at the track with the organization, and he has three top-five finishes in his last four starts. Perhaps most importantly, Logano has led a series-best 144 laps in the last four races here, leading at least 17 laps on three different occasions.

Value Plays

Kurt Busch ($8,900)

Busch is flat out underpriced this weekend. He led 32 laps and won at Pocono back in June, and he is a three-time winner here overall. He has six top 10s, including four top three finishes, in his last nine starts here, and for his career, he ranks second in both laps led and fastest laps run. Don’t be afraid to build your lineup around Busch. He’s that good at Pocono.

Chase Elliott ($8,700)

The rookie had one heck of an impressive debut at Pocono, leading a race-high 51 laps and ranking third in fastest laps run on his way to a fourth-place finish. After his performance here in the June event, you have to consider Elliott regardless of where he ends up qualifying.

Kyle Larson ($8,300)

Pocono has been one of Larson's best track, and in five starts, he has never finished worse than 12th. He has a 9.4 average finish at the track overall, and he has led laps in each of the last two races here. Larson should be a solid pick regardless, and the potential for a breakout performance and a big point total is there.

Ryan Newman ($7,700)

He logged a 12th-place finish at Pocono in June, giving him eight top 12 finishes in his last ten starts at the track. Granted, he hasn't done much damage in the laps led and fastest laps run categories, but if he starts 20th or deeper, you can expect a substantial chunk of points through place differential. Newman should be a safe, reliable addition to lineups in cash games.

Ryan Blaney ($7,400)

Blaney made his first Cup start at Pocono in June, and he came away with a top 10 finish. Early success at a track with such a unique layout bodes well for Blaney. The sample size is obviously small, but if he starts in the middle of the pack or deeper, don't hesitate to roll the dice on his upside.

A.J. Allmendinger ($7,000)

His overall record at Pocono isn't pretty, but road racers have typically run well at the track, and Allmendinger is starting to show signs of life. He has finished seventh and 16th in his last two starts, and there is a good chance the trend could continue. I'll be keeping my eye on Allmendinger as a potential GPP sleeper heading into the weekend.

Clint Bowyer ($6,900)

He has always been solid at Pocono, but there was no guarantee that the success would carry over with HScott Motorsports. However, Bowyer started 23rd and finished 18th, proving he can still get it done even with inferior equipment. If he starts deep in the field, Bowyer should be a great value pick.

Sleeper Special

Regan Smith ($5,500)

Smith was an excellent sleeper in the June race at Pocono, finishing 22nd with a +13 place differential. He had a similar run at Indianapolis last weekend, starting 37th and finishing 26th. Considering the similarities between the two tracks, the trend is enough to consider Smith as a source of cap relief if he qualifies outside the top 30 again.


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