Yahoo: Top 30 Drivers
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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Pocono Raceway this weekend, and when it comes to assembling winning DFS lineups for the triangular-shaped track, you have to change your approach a bit.
Unlike a 1.5-mile oval or short track event where the dominator categories are by far the most important component, the laps led and fastest laps run categories don't carry quite as much weight at Pocono.
For one, the race is one of the shorter events, scheduled for just 160 laps. Meanwhile, Pocono's massive 2.5-mile layout allows drivers to pit without losing a lap, which means drivers will be short pitting throughout fuel runs, hoping to catch a caution and gain track position.
As a result, the lead tends to cycle through a variety of drivers. The last time a driver has led 100 laps in a race at Pocono was in 2013, and last June, Chase Elliott ranked first with just 51 laps led. Fuel mileage can also come into play, jumbling up the running order in the closing laps.
With the dominator categories being devalued a bit, place differential and finishing position receive a boost this weekend. This a race where a balanced lineup of solid finishers is going to be successful. In addition, quality drivers starting deeper in the field can end up having as much value as the driver who leads the most laps.
Check back after qualifying for updated driver picks, and in the meantime, here is a closer look at the drivers I'll be targeting for Sunday's Pocono 400.
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,300)
Truex has led multiple laps in three of the last four races at Pocono, including a race-high 97 in a dominating win in the June race in 2015. He has consistently shown high-end speed at this track and high-end speed all season long. Truex is one of the best bets to win the dominator categories yet again this weekend.
Kyle Larson ($9,900)
His breakout season continued with a strong run at Dover, and now he heads to a track where he knows nothing but success. In six starts at Pocono, he has never finished worse than 12th. Larson has an 8.8 average finish here overall, and he led 37 laps in the August race last season. Another dominant run could be on tap.
Kevin Harvick ($9,600)
Harvick has been one of the most consistent performers at Pocono, logging four Top 10s in the last five races here and leading multiple laps in every race during that span. He has also recorded at 18 fastest laps in three of his last four starts at the track. Harvick should provide a strong finish and some added points in the dominator categories.
Chase Elliott ($9,300)
The sample size is small, but when Elliott made his Pocono debut last June, he led a race-high 51 laps on his way to a fourth-place finish. It remains to be seen if he can repeat the performance, but I'll be willing to take that chance in a few lineups, especially if he qualifies up front.
Joey Logano ($9,100)
His salary has dipped thanks to his recent slump, but Logano has top-scorer upside at Pocono. His 182 laps led over the last five races here are 63 more than any other driver, and he has led 17-plus in four those races, leading 30-plus three times. If he qualifies in the Top 10, I'll be all over him at this price.
Ryan Blaney ($8,400)
Blaney made an immediate impact at Pocono, finishing 10th and 11th in two starts here as a rookie and gaining a total of 11 spots. As good as he has been in 2017, I wouldn't be surprised if he had a Top 5 car this weekend. If he starts deeper in the field, Blaney should be able to exploit the place differential category. If he starts up front, I'll still consider him in some GPPs.
Kurt Busch ($8,200)
He just hasn't been good at Pocono. Busch has been one of the best in the business at the track. He is the defending winner of this weekend's race and a three-time winner at the track overall. He also ranks second in both dominator categories. Busch has the potential to be the top scorer this weekend, and he could be a steal at this price.
Kasey Kahne ($7,700)
He has been a sneaky force at Pocono throughout his career, and in addition to a pair of wins here, Kahne ranks in the Top 5 in both dominator categories. Granted, he has led just two laps over the last seven races, but with four Top 15s in his last five starts here, he could still be a solid value at this price depending on how qualifying plays out.
Ryan Newman ($7,600)
Newman's driving style is perfect for a track like Pocono where passing is tough, and he has finished 12th or better in eight of his last 10 starts here. His DFS appeal will depend on his starting spot, but he should be a safe mid-priced play if he starts in the middle of the pack or deeper.
A.J. Allmendinger ($6,900)
He has been solid at Pocono in recent years, finishing 16th or better in each of his last three starts. More importantly, he has gained 15-plus spots in two of those three starts. If he starts in the back half of the field, Allmendinger could be a great source of cap relief.
David Ragan ($5,100)
No matter what car he is driving, Ragan seems to be able to hold his own at Pocono. He has finished 23rd or better in six of his last seven starts at the track, gaining at least seven spots in five of those races. If he starts outside the Top 25, Ragan should be one of the safer sources of significant cap relief.