2018 Pocono Raceway, Pocono 400

Another boring race dominated by Kyle Busch. Congratulations to him for both winning his fourth race of the season and winning in a points race at every track on the NASCAR circuit. Both are great feats to accomplish for any driver. Kyle was never seriously challenged at any point of the race and won by almost four seconds over second place Martin Truex Jr., but that was only because he was coasting and just trying to stay out of trouble. When the race ended there were only nine cars on the lead lap.

POCONO 400

This week the drivers head to the Pocono Raceway for the running of the Pocono 400. To me this is usually a boring race, but we will have to wait and see. Pocono creates a challenge for all drivers and crew chiefs alike because of its three turns that are all configured differently. It isn’t nicknamed the tricky triangle for nothing. The team that can setup their car with the right balance to make it through all three turns the best will come out on top here. One other thing to note. This race is in the Pocono Mountains and it has been known to rain here quite often. That can cancel qualifying and practice sessions and delay the race. I really wish they only ran here once during the year.

Brad Keselowski: I think we might see a different winner once again this weekend other than those two drivers that have been dominating the season and that driver is Brad Keselowski. Brad has finished in the top five here in eight of his sixteen starts. Those are Mark Martin types on numbers with the only difference being Brad has a win here, something Mark never accomplished although he finished second way too many times to count. Brad comes away with his second victory at this track this weekend.

Kurt Busch: I think this is the type of track Kurt will really run well on and could pick up his first victory of the season if he can beat out Brad. Kurt has always run well on these flatter tracks during his career. He has three wins and fourteen top five finishes in thirty-three starts at Pocono and will be a serious threat to Brad this weekend.

Kevin Harvick: We all know what Kevin has done this year and he will be looking to come back from a blown tire that took him out of the race last week at Charlotte. At the time he blew his tire he was in fourth place coming from the back of the pack where he had to start because he failed inspection and didn’t get to qualify. Kevin is looking for his first win at this track and has finished in the top five here in three of his last four starts. The way he has been running all season he will be a serious contender once again this weekend.

Denny Hamlin: Denny leads all active drivers with four wins at Pocono. He has also finished in the top five ten times and the top ten fifteen times in his twenty-four starts there. This team has been pretty good so far this season, but isn’t quite to the level of teammate, Kyle Busch, at this point of the season. This is more of the track type where Denny excels and I look for him to do well this weekend.

Kyle Busch: Kyle sat on the pole for both of the Pocono races last year and picked up his first win at this track in the July race last season. He and Harvick have been the class of the field each and every week this year and I look for that trend to continue where they will both be in contention late in the race with a few of the other drivers already mentioned above.

Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie has been improving every week and one of these week’s they will find themselves back in victory lane. He has won three times at Pocono and has finished in the top five eleven times and the top ten nineteen times in his thirty-two starts. One thing to consider here is Jimmie’s last two season’s here where he has finished thirty-fifth or worse in three of those four starts.

Ryan Blaney: Ryan won this race last year for his first Cup victory and has looked even faster this year after moving to Penske from the Wood Brothers. He only has four starts at this track in the Cup series with three of those finishes being eleventh or better. Even in the July race last year where he finished thirtieth he qualified fifth. That tells me he had a fast car that weekend also.

Chase Elliott: Chase is another driver with only three starts at Pocono in the Cup series and he has come away with three top ten finishes in those races. This team was the best of all the Hendrick cars early this season, but they seem to have dropped off a bit lately. Now that Jimmie Johnson is running better the whole organization should benefit and be able to use data from both teams to make them all faster.

Erik Jones: In his only two starts at this track, both coming last season, Erik has two top ten finishes with a third and an eighth. He also led laps in both of those races last year. He had a fast car at Charlotte last week, but the team took themselves out of contention with some pit road miscues. This team is on the verge of getting their first Cup win and it could come this weekend.

Kyle Larson: Kyle has run pretty well here during his short career. In his eight starts here he has finished in the top ten four times and has led laps in races five times. This is a dirt track racers type of track where they can let the back end hang out a little bit and that comes in handy on at least one of the three turns a drivers car isn’t quite setup for. Kyle could be a sleeper this weekend.

DRIVER GROUP GAME FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR POCONO RACEWAY

Driver Group Game Group A

  • Brad Keselowski
  • Kyle Busch

Driver Group Game Group B

  • Kurt Busch
  • Erik Jones
  • Ryan Blaney
  • Chase Elliott

Driver Group Game Group C

  • Chris Buescher
  • Michael McDowell

MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT POCONO RACEWAY

  1. Brad Keselowski
  2. Kurt Busch
  3. Kyle Busch
  4. Kevin Harvick
  5. Denny Hamlin

Dark Horse: Daniel Suarez

Stay Away From: Aric Almirola

Big 18: Kurt Busch

64 thoughts on “2018 Pocono Raceway, Pocono 400

    1. Yeah, I looked at him, but he never really ran well here no matter who he was racing for during his career so I don’t like him this week.

      1. bowyer DID run good here last year. and he just dominated on a flat track (m-ville) earlier this year. he’s ABSOLUTELY in my top 4.

        1. 17th in this race last year and then 6th in the later race. Not a lot of consistency and there are better tracks to use him on in my opinion.

    2. Yea whenever Clint Bowyer has been with a team who had the money to supply good equipment Clint is good at Pocono. It wouldn’t surprise me if he wins this week. More than likely he will be in the top 5

  1. I know we still have a practice to go before qualifying… my league opened for picks today… who do you like for the pole?
    18 & 78 started 1-2 in that order in both pocono races last season! do you possibly see a repeat of that front row this week?

    1. His best finish here in his career is 18th. I know he is with a different and faster team, but his average finish here is 27.45. That didn’t all have to do with Petty. He still should have finished much better than that on average.

  2. Got to pick new drivers for next 13 races. Need your help. 2 drivers out of rank 1 through 7. 2 out of rank 8 through 14. 1 out of rank 15 through 21. 1 out of rank 22 through 28 and 1 out of the rest of the field. In first place now because of your help. Thanks Jeff.

    1. Toss up between Kyle Busch and Harvick, but I would lean towards Harvick.
      Tough one here. With 2 road course races I like Bowyer and Johnson, but Michigan is on the list too where Larson has run so well. Bowyer for sure, Johnson has shown more speed lately so a toss up between him and Larson for you other spot.
      Then Chase Elliott
      Another tough choice for 22-28. Allmendinger and Kahne are your road course drivers. Byron has been running pretty well lately. Wallace a little inconsistent. Byron ran well at Watkins Glen last year in the xfinity series so I would pick either Byron or Kahne in this group.
      With Kenseth only running 2 of these 13 races, I would go with Trevor Bayne because he should score more points in 11 races than the rest of the field will in 13.

  3. Even though Kyle Busch has won the pole the last 2 races at pocono his brother Kurt has a better average start than kyle at this track… Kyle’s average start is 9.5 & Kurts is 7.5! I went with the other Busch brother & put the 41 on the pole!

      1. with the threat of rain I just switched to the 18 on the pole… they may be lining up by points position this weekend…

        1. You can’t worry too much about rain. If it rains no qualifying points are awarded and all of the drivers are on an even keel because there probably won’t be much practice time and they will throw a competition caution early in the race. Like I said in my article, the chance of rain at Pocono is always quite high. So, don’t worry about qualifying getting rained out, it is still a long race and just because you sit on the front row doesn’t mean you are going to win the race.

    1. You can only use drivers 9 times each during the season. That is 27 races for the top three drivers leaving 9 races to choose other drivers. Buescher’s average finish is 18.5 and he has a win here. None of the other available drivers has a better average finish.

    1. Byron finished 12th in his only Xfinity start at Pocono and has never run a Cup race here. Wallace finished 26th in his only Cup start here and 11th and 16th in his 2 Xfinity starts. Both of those races are a lot shorter than this race. In other words, there really isn’t a lot of data to look at so it is a toss up to me. That is why I have Buescher and McDowell on my team this week.

      1. I guess experience on the track is what I am considering, hate to watch my drivers wreck themselves like Byron did at Charlotte in a turn. Pocono seems to be a race of managing the corners. Who’s more likely to finish this race without incident? Who’s driving skill set does this track cater to? I’m leaning towards Bubba but Byron’s more likely to have the better car, thoughts on those views?

        1. If experience on the track is important to you, then David Ragan has 22 Cup starts at Pocono and McDowell has 11. You will need to use some of these other drivers at some point of the season, so maybe you put Bubba and Ragan on your roster and then decide which is your starter after practice.

  4. So I take it you are also using the #18 over the #4 this week because of the 9 start limit rule is that why ??,If not why? & if you want limited on uses which driver would you use between the #18 & #4?, Thks

    1. I am actually hoping to start the 2 this week. The 18 had led more laps than the 4 has on this track over the past 2 seasons, so that tells me he has a better handle on the track and that is why I am using him.

      1. Well i understand that friend but over all the #4 has better average finishes than the #18, but the last 2 races like u say the #18 is better.I have the #2 & #4 as well so now qualifying and practice are over you still are going 2 be using the #2 over the #18?

  5. Appreciate your weekly thoughts Jeff. Helps me even though our lineups are very different at times. Rank like 250, 98 percentile so far. Keep up the good work!

    1. That is all I’m trying to do, give some insight and hope you all make your own decisions from there. Thanks for the great comment and good luck the rest of the season!

  6. Brand new to NASCAR as of this season, getting pulled into a fantasy league is what drew me in. It’s got it’s teeth in me and I’m loving it. Your weekly posts have been really helpful to me. Thanks, Jeff! Keep up the great work!

    1. Welcome to the NASCAR family! Just an FYI, what I write are just my observations and research of the past few races at the tracks they are running on and how each driver has run recently. You still have to go with what you think is better for your team and your league. Thanks for the comment though!

    1. My thoughts on your line if it matters to you,lol!!! I think it looks good only thing i would do different friend is switch the #9 out and use the #41

    2. Busch for sure because Keselowski hasn’t run anywhere near as well as I thought he would this weekend. Your B drivers is causing me a dilemma. We aren’t halfway through the season and you have used all of these drivers a lot. You are going to run out of starts for them way too early. I would save Busch for places like maybe the road courses, and Loudon. He runs well on the flat tracks. But, with only 5 starts left for Elliott I would save him until he starts running consistently better. Busch 17th fastest in 10 lap average doesn’t sound real great to me either. I think you need to go with your gut here. Now for Bowman or Byron. Bowman’s best finish here in a Cup car is 25th, but he wasn’t running for a good team in those races. He has more experience here, so he is probably your best choice.

      1. 300 point lead. Think I should go with Jones and save a start with Kurt?

        I know I need to save some starts in b group. Still some good picks left like maybe menard. Almirola. Bowyer Jones. Jamie mac

        1. Who are all of your B drivers on your roster and how many starts for each left? That will help me determine how I would play it. Jones has a small sample size here and I would rather run him on the intermediate tracks.

  7. Would love it if you started adding a pick for pole at the end for the weekly picks! Great advice on here.

    1. The pole winner is a crap shoot every week the way they do qualifying now. Probably pick my race winner or someone in my top 5.

  8. After seeing the final practice 10 lap averages i am have trouble deciding on my B group. I am going to stick with Blaney but my second choice is tough. Who would you pick out if Jones, Suarez, and Kurt?

    1. That really can depend on how many starts you have left with each of them. I would probably save Kurt for some other tracks and maybe take a chance of Suarez who has been running pretty well all season.

    1. NO! He hasn’t shown me anything that I was expecting from him. I would go with the 18 or the 4 once again.

  9. Who do you guys like

    1. KYLE BUSCH V JOEY LOGANO
    2 KEVIN Harvick BRAD KESELOWSKI
    3 MARTIN TRUEX JR. KURT BUSCH
    4 DENNY HAMLIN CLINT BOWYER
    5 KYLE LARSON RYAN BLANEY
    6 JIMMIE JOHNSON CHASE ELLIOTT
    7 RICKY STENHOUSE JR. PAUL MENARD
    8 AUSTIN DILLON JAMIE MCMURRAY
    9 RYAN NEWMAN AJ ALLMENDINGER
    10 DAVID RAGAN KASEY KAHNE

    1. 1. KYLE BUSCH
      2 KEVIN Harvick
      3 KURT BUSCH
      4 DENNY HAMLIN
      5 RYAN BLANEY
      6 JIMMIE JOHNSON
      7 PAUL MENARD
      8 JAMIE MCMURRAY
      9 AJ ALLMENDINGER
      10 KASEY KAHNE

  10. I have on B drivers the 9,21,41,20..as of right now leaning towards 9 and 21..should I make any changes?..thanks

  11. 300 point lead. Think I should go with Jones and save a start with Kurt?

    I know I need to save some starts in b group. Still some good picks left like maybe menard. Almirola. Bowyer Jones. Jamie mac

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