Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet | 2017 Pocono Raceway, Pocono 400
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2017 Pocono Raceway, Pocono 400

Jimmie Johnson showed why he is the king of Dover when he started at the back of the field and took the checkered flag for the eleventh time in his career. This was Johnson’s third win of the season as he took the lead for good on a green-white-checkered restart at the end of the race. Kyle Larson, who lead the most laps on the day, finished second, followed by Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Newman, and Chase Elliott.

POCONO 400

This week the series heads from one of my favorite tracks in Dover to one of my least favorite tracks to watch a race at, the Pocono Raceway. The only good thing NASCAR ever did with this race in my opinion was to shorted it from 500-miles to the present 400-miles. Don’t get me wrong, the area is one of the most beautiful areas you can visit that has a NASCAR race, but the racing is boring and it seems to rain a lot at this time of the year in the mountains.

Brad Keselowski: I’m going to go with a Ford driver to win this race and that would be Brad Keselowski. Brad has had some very unfortunate luck the last two races he has started and he will put that all behind him and pick up his second career victory at this track. Besides his one win here, Brad has finished in the top 5 in six of his fourteen starts here and will have the speed and power to make passes on the Long Pond straightaway to get the job done.

Jimmie Johnson: We can’t count Jimmie out because when he wins a race he tends to win multiple races in a row. Jimmie has always run well here as can be seen with his three wins, eleven top five and nineteen top ten finishes in thirty starts at Pocono. The Hendrick teams haven’t shown as much speed as the Ford teams this season as of yet, but if a driver can get his car to handle well in all three corners at this track he is well on his way to a victory.

Denny Hamlin: It’s hard to believe, but we are already halfway to the playoffs this season and none of the Joe Gibbs drivers has won a race yet. There have been multiple races where they have had the best car, but couldn’t seal the deal at the end of the race. There always seems to be something going wrong for them. Denny will give them their best shot to win this weekend as he has always run well here himself. He leads all active drivers with four wins here and also has fourteen top ten finished in his twenty-two starts at this track.

Kurt Busch: Kurt has three wins at this track himself and now is back in a Ford which we know are fast this year. With thirteen top five finishes and eighteen top ten’s in thirty-one starts, Kurt has proven that he knows how to get around this track consistently. I look for him to have his best run of the year since the Daytona 500.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Dale has really struggled this year in all sorts of ways. They never can seem to get a handle on their car and don’t know what changes to make to it to get it to handle better during the race. Otherwise when they work their way to the front they end up with a penalty on pit road or something breaks on their car. Well, that can all come to an end this weekend as Dale has finished in the top five in six of his last seven starts including two wins and a runner-up finish.

Joey Logano: Joey has struggled the past couple of weeks trying to get the handling and the speed of his cars to where he is used to having them. He has run well at Pocono in the past with one win and six top ten finishes in sixteen starts at this track. I think this team is just in a mini slump and will break out of it very soon.

Martin Truex Jr.: Martin has been running very well lately no matter where he goes. He struggled at Pocono early in his career, but he has been getting better here all the time and he showed that last year when he won the second race here. This team is running so well right now they could win at every track they go to and Pocono should be no different. Look for Martin to have another strong run again this weekend.

Kyle Larson: Speaking of a driver who has been running well lately, Kyle has run well all year and even though he has only started six races at Pocono in his young career he has three top ten finishes and has never finished worse than twelfth at this track. I look for Kyle to make another run at a win again this weekend and continue to keep the pressure on Martin Truex Jr. for the points lead.

Ryan Newman: Ryan has once again been quietly putting together another solid season. The difference this year is that he already has a win under his belt. That wasn’t the case the past couple of years. Ryan has been consistent at Pocono throughout his career and has finished in the top ten in seven of his last twelve starts here. He has also only finished outside of the top twenty twice in his last twenty-three starts here.

Kevin Harvick: Not only is Kevin looking for his first ever win at Pocono, he is also looking for his first win on the season. He has run well here lately with three top five finishes in his last five starts including back to back runner-up finishes in the 2014 and 2015 seasons. I look for this team to break into the win column very soon and probably win multiple races before the start of the playoffs.

YAHOO! FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR POCONO RACEWAY

Yahoo Driver Group A

  • Brad Keselowski
  • Jimmie Johnson

Yahoo Driver Group B

  • Kurt Busch
  • Kyle Larson
  • Ryan Newman
  • Kasey Kahne

Yahoo Driver Group C

  • Erik Jones
  • Ty Dillon

MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT POCONO RACEWAY

  1. Brad Keselowski
  2. Jimmie Johnson
  3. Kyle Larson
  4. Kurt Busch
  5. Matt Kenseth

Dark Horse: Kasey Kahne

Stay Away From: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Big 18: Kurt Busch

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  • Josh

    What do you expect out of Darrell Wallace Jr. in the 43 car this weekend? He has shown consistency in the Xfinity but does he have what it takes to hang in Cup series? I have to say I think he does and will prove himself with this temporary ride and get a full time for next year.

    Reply
    • Keith

      Learning the horsepower and the aero package of the Cup cars will be the tell tale signs of if he’ll be able to hang or not. Take a look at Daniel Suarez it took him a bit to learn.

      Reply
    • Jeff Gutowski

      The main thing here is that he is in good equipment. Eventually we are all going to have to use drivers other than the top 3 in the C group for the Yahoo league and Regan Smith wasn’t the answer.

      Reply
  • Doug

    Do you see Kane or Menard being factors at Pocono?

    Reply
    • Jeff Gutowski

      I like Kahne here a bit. Menard has struggled most of this year, but he did win at Indy already which is another flatter track with big sweeping turns. Just not sure if I trust him at this juncture of the season.

      Reply
  • Jim M.

    Note that the weather is going to heat up in PA this weekend – could be a factor

    Reply
  • Joey

    What do you think about Austin Dillon this weekend? Granted, his stats at Pocono aren’t exactly shining, but I think he and his new crew chief are putting together some decent momentum since winning at Charlotte. He was running well at Dover all day and had a top-10 going until he got caught up in that last lap melee.

    Reply
    • Jeff Gutowski

      He could do well. He has two top ten finishes at Indy with RCR and that tells me he is pretty good on a flatter track like Pocono. And like you mentioned they have been running well lately.

      Reply
  • Mark

    Jeff, from the teach a man to fish category, what tool(s) here at FRCS do you find the most beneficial in doing your analysis? And inside that tool, or tools, what data points have you found to be the most telling for the upcoming races? How many years in the past at a track are truly relevant? Is there great value in the average running position? Driver rating? Quality passes?

    Reply
    • Jeff Gutowski

      I like driver averages and similar track averages the best myself. Now you have to look at tracks and when they have been reconfigured or repaved when looking at the driver averages by track because tracks do change over time and do get reconfigured or repaved or both. When a track gets reconfigured or repaved I will look at similar track averages. This week I compared Indy to Pocono. Are they the same? No. Then what makes them similar you might ask. I will tell you that they are both fairly flat tracks with long sweeping turns. The reason it is so hard to predict how a driver will do is usually because of tires. Good Year will bring different tires to each track and bring different types of tires to tracks that have two races. One type for one race and another type for another race. I think this is why it is essential to see how drivers did in the final two practice sessions and how the fared with their ten lap averages in those practice sessions.

      Reply
      • Mark

        Thanks Jeff. I was already thinking Indy. Even road courses to a certain degree. At least for this weekend. And I tend to not look too much at the last practice unless it is 10 lap average. Never further back than 2 years and usually first race to first race, second to second if they go there more than once.

        Reply
  • Scott

    With only one practice on Saturday, does this change your approach to who your drivers will Be?
    Always heard it was hard to pass at Pocono. That true?
    Thanks..

    Reply
    • Jeff Gutowski

      Passing at Pocono is really dependent on how well your car handles through all three turns. More about how you get into and off of the corners. Only one practice doesn’t change the way I pick my drivers. They will all be setting up with their race package.

      Reply

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