2018 Pocono Raceway, Gander Outdoors 400

And the beat goes on. Kevin Harvick won his sixth race of the season beating Kyle Busch in a close contest in a rain delayed race at New Hampshire this past weekend. With only a few laps left in the race and Harvick putting a lot of pressure on Busch he finally used the bumper to move Kyle out of the groove and pass him as he headed to the checkered flag. Kyle held on to easily finish second while the last of the big three, Martin Truex Jr., finished fourth.

That leaves the big three with fifteen wins in the twenty races run so far this season with Clint Bowyer the only other driver to win a non-restrictor plate race. If you are the fan of a Chevrolet driver you might be in for a long rest of the season. Chase Elliott led for a little while during this race, but it is clear there really is no one who can compete with the big three on a weekly basis and Chevrolet is still looking for their first win of the season on a track that isn’t a restrictor plate track.

GANDER OUTDOORS 400

Now there are only six more races left before the playoffs and points mean everything to make it into the playoffs. I think it is going to be hard to knock any of the top three drivers out of any round of the playoffs and they will probably all head to Homestead-Miami with a shot at this year’s championship. The question is who will join them and can anyone improve enough to knock one or more of them out of contention?

This week the series heads back to the Pocono Raceway for the running of the Gander Outdoors 400. Martin Truex Jr. won the race here in June with Busch and Harvick finishing third and fourth respectively in that race. This big two and a half mile track should favor the faster cars once again this weekend and I would expect similar results to the June race. Handling is at a premium with three differently shaped corners and drivers and crew chiefs have to figure out how to setup their cars to be at their best in all of those corners if they want to compete for the win.

Kevin Harvick: I am going to go with Harvick to win his seventh race of the year. He has finished in the top five in his last four starts here with two of those finishes being runner-up finishes. I think he takes the next step and moves back to victory lane this time and adds to his playoff point lead for the moment. All he needs to do is try and stay far enough away from Kyle at the end of the race so he doesn’t receive payback.

Brad Keselowski: Brad could be a driver you might want to use to save starts for the big three or use him to make a move in your league. Not to be outdone by Kevin at Pocono lately, Brad has finished in the top five there in his last six starts. Once again he didn’t win any of those races, but that doesn’t mean he can’t win one now. He will need to have the same handling he had in those races and I think he will be a contender this weekend.

Martin Truex Jr.: Seeing he won the race here in June he has to be considered one of those to beat this weekend again. His consistency hasn’t been quite as good as the two mentioned above, but he has finished in the top six in his last three starts and has led laps in six of his last seven starts at Pocono. He has also started on the front row in three of his last four starts there.

Kyle Busch: Kyle won this race last year and has three straight top ten finishes here. He has also sat on the pole in three of his last six starts and led laps in all of those races. Pocono is notorious for having rain and there is a better than average chance that qualifying might be rained out and that would mean the big three would all start towards the front of the field and get to choose their pit stall that way.

Chase Elliott: Chase gave a valiant effort once again last weekend as he tries to score his first Cup win. He has run very well at Pocono in his five races that he has run there finishing in the top ten in four of those starts. I just don’t feel this team has quite the speed it will take to get that first win right now unless everything goes exactly right for them. They need to be flawless on pit road as well as on the track to have any chance at a win, but a top ten finish is a definite possibility once again this weekend.

Kurt Busch: Kurt was really strong last weekend at Loudon and was looking like he might get his first win of the season when on his last pit stop as he was trying to get into his pit, Ryan Blaney who was in the stall right behind him was ready to exit his box. They both stopped and waited for just a second or two, but that was enough to send Kurt out well behind some of the other drivers and he never recovered. He has run very well at Pocono in his career with three wins here and nineteen top ten finishes in thirty-four starts. He is worth having on your team this weekend.

Ryan Blaney: Ryan picked up his first ever Cup win in the June race last season. In his five starts here he has finished in the top eleven four times. He started on the pole in the June race this year and has started in the top five in his last three starts at Pocono. This team seems to be fast on the short runs, but when it comes to longer runs they seem to fade. They need to figure out how to build both short and long run speed into the car to compete with the big three.

Kyle Larson: Kyle finished second here in June and has probably been the closest of all the Chevrolet drivers to being able to compete with the big three on a more consistent basis this year. In nine career starts at Pocono he has only finished outside the top twelve once. That is pretty amazing for this track. He could compete for a win here once again as this is his type of track with three different types of corners to negotiate.

Matt Kenseth: Matt will once again get behind the wheel of the number 6 car this weekend at Pocono. He hasn’t done much in practice or qualifying in the races he has run so far this year, but his finishes are getting better. He ran the June race here and finished thirteenth and finished fifteen at New Hampshire this past weekend. He could be another driver you could have on your roster to take a chance on this weekend as he has finished in the top ten here in five of his last seven starts.

DRIVER GROUP GAME FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR POCONO RACEWAY

Driver Group Game Group A

  • Kevin Harvick
  • Brad Keselowski

Driver Group Game Group B

  • Kurt Busch
  • Chase Elliott
  • Ryan Blaney
  • Matt Kenseth

Driver Group Game Group C

  • Chris Buescher
  • William Byron

MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT POCONO RACEWAY

  1. Kevin Harvick
  2. Brad Keselowski
  3. Martin Truex Jr.
  4. Kyle Busch
  5. Kurt Busch

Dark Horse: Chase Elliott

Stay Away From: Joey Logano

Big 18: Brad Keselowski

57 thoughts on “2018 Pocono Raceway, Gander Outdoors 400

  1. before you posted this I was thinking
    18 78 42 22 10 & 41 in the garage… think I may swap the 22 for the 2 though but the rest will remain the same…

        1. I only have 3 starts left on the 4… kinda why I don’t have him in my line up… but I think I may go with your advice here!

        1. You’re right. I guess I even get confused with when I am using or adding these drivers to my roster. I think Kevin and Brad have been the two most consistent here lately and I am hoping to use Brad this race if he looks good in practice even though I have Harvick to win.

  2. I am considering Almirola after his performance here in june. Got real loose in qualifying and started 34th, raced up to 7th place finish.
    Fluke or will he bring that to this weekends race?

    1. He has been running very well everywhere lately. Could be a good pick here once again. Depends on how many starts you have left with him because he should run real well on all of the intermediate tracks from here on out.

    1. Sorry Al, but I have to disagree with you. There are still sixteen races left in the season and if you need to save some starts for some drivers, Matt could be a good choice. Five top ten finishes in his last seven starts here. I think he is well worth having on your roster and if he run well in practice and qualifying you can start him. No harm in having a driver on your roster a lot of others in your league won’t have and if he does run well, you can pick up a lot of points in your league.

      1. I agree with Jeff. I had the 6 car on my bench last week and left him there because he practised poorly. But I wish I started him. He had a decent finish and I could have saved starts with someone else.

  3. I’m going with Harvick, Kenseth, and Buescher for my A,B,C driver I’m not going to use Busch and Busch so I can save for Chase. Still think this is ok?

    1. Yes, I have either Harvick or Keselowski in the A group. Might use Brad if he looks good or Harvick stumbles in practice

  4. How much of an advantage do you think it is that the #18 is the only cupper racing with the trucks this week at the Poconos?

    1. Any track time for any driver is somewhat of an advantage as they can see how the track is feeling that weekend, but rain or temp differences will affect the track between those races, I think he doesn’t really need it himself. He just has to worry if he is good enough in the Cup car to beat Harvick, Truex, and Keselowski this weekend.

    1. Stenhouse, Suarez and Newman have been pretty good over their last five here. Better than Kahne has been anyway.

  5. What do you think about Byron?…where are the best places to use him IYO?….Also sometimes it takes forever for page to open up…any idea who I should let know or is it a ongoing issue with this site.

    1. Byron has been very good on the intermediate tracks and that is where I will be using him. I have been talking to the site administrator and he is looking into the slow loading. Sorry for the inconvenience.

      1. Well, guess i should wait to see how many fail inspection.
        Interesting that Logano went through inspection pre qualifying to make sure car was right. Then fails post Q inspection.

        And Nascar wonders why there are skeptical fans. I dont get it. They should go through inspection before .

        1. They go through inspection before practice and after qualifying. I know what you mean by skeptical fans, but these teams live on the edge every week or they can’t compete. NASCAR is trying to make it more fair by lowering the tolerances they can have on the cars. Still only have 3 drivers who are tough to beat and 2 of those don’t pass inspection.

  6. Damn. Hate to keep adding posts but this race is a mess with the lineup change.
    Long and big track so anything can happen with strategy since hard to lose lap early.

    How important is start p in your opinion?

    1. I don’t think anything really matters with 13 cars failing inspection. With the stage racing and how fast Harvick was in all of the practice sessions, I see him still winning this race. I don’t think the changes they had to make to the car to pass inspection are going to make much of a difference and losing the car chief isn’t going to matter either.

    1. Suarez should lead laps seeing he is sitting on the pole, but I think Elliott comes away with a better finish. I go with Harvick to win the race yet and Truex to beat Busch.

  7. Suarez should lead laps seeing he is sitting on the pole, but I think Elliott comes away with a better finish. I go with Harvick to win the race yet and Truex to beat Busch.

  8. Start:Truex (7) Bench: Harvick (5)

    Start: Almirola (5) and Blaney (6) Bench: Elliott (6) and Kurt (5)

    Start: Ragan (7) Bench: Buesher(6)

    Would you change and of my starters?

    1. Seeing Byron is starting in the back because he failed inspection, I am going to save one of his starts and go with Buescher. I am also starting Elliott and Busch instead of Kenseth seeing they are both starting ahead of him and ran better in practice overall.

  9. Harvick without his crew chief vs. Kyle Bush with his crew chief. Both starting at the rear of the field. Who you got?

    1. Harvick lost his car chief which is different than the crew chief. He was the best in all the practice sessions and will win this race.

  10. Hahahha,I was fixing to same the same thing on this one. #4,#9,#41,#37,is the way I think you should go with

    1. That is a tossup. I would use the driver I had more starts left with in the DGG, If you don’t have to worry about starts I would go with my gut.

  11. Jeff,need your input and help: So would u use the #2 over the #4,if everyone in your league has the #4 and will be using him, so if the #2 can run good and I can gain points .Hard 2bwhen everyone is using the same driver. So question is do u think using the #2 he will score more points than the #4? Your thought will appreciated, not long 4 race time, lol

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