Fantasy NASCAR Picks for the Pennsylvania 400

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Long Pond, Pennsylvania this week for the Pennsylvania 400. The race can be seen Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network. Be sure to test your fantasy NASCAR skills in the Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing game.

The track known as “The Tricky Triangle” should be a little less tricky Sunday. The Sprint Cup Series just competed at the track two months ago and the drivers who ran well in that race should run up front this week. Here are the results from the June race at Pocono…

2016 Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400 Results

  1. Kurt Busch
  2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  3. Brad Keselowski
  4. Chase Elliott
  5. Joey Logano
  6. Kasey Kahne
  7. Matt Kenseth
  8. Carl Edwards
  9. Kevin Harvick
  10. Ryan Blaney

The car setup for Pocono is similar to the setup needed in the last two races (New Hampshire and Indianapolis). The way I like to analyze the data for the second race at Pocono is to look at which drivers had the top average running position in the last three flat tracks (Pocono, New Hampshire and Indianapolis). These races often come down to fuel-mileage so only looking at race results does not show an accurate picture of which cars were strong in the race. Here are the drivers with the best average running position in the last three flat track races…

Average Running Position in Last Three Flat Tracks

Driver Pocono New Hampshire Indianapolis

Average

Matt Kenseth

4.62 5.44 6.58 5.54

Kyle Busch

14.82 2.24 1.22 6.09
Kurt Busch 4.54 7.04 11.78

7.78

Carl Edwards 8.11 10.74 6.59

8.48

Kevin Harvick 10.25 6.79 9.39

8.81

Brad Keselowski 13.44 6.11 8.39

9.31

Joey Logano

10.04 12.09 7.48 9.87

Denny Hamlin

15.21 7.05 8.11 10.12

Martin Truex Jr.

22.57 3.74 5.61

10.64

Chase Elliott 3.84 10.21 18.23

10.76

Jimmie Johnson 11.18 9.4 12.2

10.92

 

The races during the summer months are the hardest to predict because most of the tracks are not in the Chase. The teams with a win sometimes use these races to test out different setups for their cars. NASCAR teams usually get serious after the race at Indianapolis. The last thing a team wants to do is limp into the playoffs. Fantasy teams should expect the top teams to dominate at Pocono this week. This means the Joe Gibbs Racing cars (Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin) should be the cars to beat Sunday.

Track position is important at Pocono. Seven of the drivers who started in the top 10 in the June race also finished in the top 10.  The best strategy this week is to start the drivers who qualify up front.

Last week Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing gave fantasy teams a gift and let them see two practices before the deadline to select your drivers. That is not the case this week. Your lineup must be in by 5a.m. ET, so make sure you get it set before bed Thursday night.

 

Yahoo Group A Picks

Matt Kenseth (9)

Kenseth has been the best driver this season on the flat tracks. He finished seventh in the last race at Pocono, second last week at Indianapolis and won the race at New Hampshire. Kenseth has three consecutive finishes in the top 10 at Pocono, including a win in this race last season. Joe Gibbs Racing has had the fastest cars on the track this season and one of them should be in Victory Lane Sunday. My pick to win is Kenseth.

Kurt Busch (8)

I wanted to use Kyle over Kurt Busch, but I only have three allocations left with Kyle. The next best choice is his older brother, Kurt. The older Busch brother went to Victory Lane for the third time at Pocono only two months ago. Most drivers have a hard time getting around the Tricky Triangle but Busch seems to have the track figured out. He has finished four of the last five races at the track in the top five. Busch will be one of the favorites to win Sunday.

Other good choices: Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Jimmie Johnson

 

Yahoo Group B Picks

Carl Edwards (3)

Edwards is another Joe Gibbs racing driver to watch this week. Track position is very important at this track and Edwards is one of the best at starting up front. Edwards has qualified in the top 10 in nine of the last 11 races at the track. He finished eighth in the last race at Pocono and he had the sixth-best driver rating in the race. I plan to use Edwards for qualifying points only this week.

Tony Stewart (6)

Stewart did not run well in the first race at Pocono but he has been a rejuvenated driver since he won the race at Sonoma. Stewart has a series-best average finishing position in the last six races (8.67). He finished four of the last six races in the top 10. Stewart has 21 finishes in the top 10, including two trips to Victory Lane at Pocono. Stewart is a great option to save a start with Carl Edwards and Martin Truex Jr.

Kyle Larson (4)

Larson had a good but not great race in June at Pocono. He started 21st and finished 11th. Larson has been good at the Tricky Triangle in his career. He has the fourth-best average finishing position in the last five races at the track. Larson has never finished worse than 12th at Pocono. He ran well last week at the Brickyard and that should translate into a solid run Sunday.

Jamie McMurray (8)

The last choice for Group B came down to a decision between Kasey Kahne and Jamie McMurray. Kahne ran well in the first race at Pocono (finished 6th), but those of you who follow my columns know I have a hard time trusting Kahne. For that reason I went with McMurray.

McMurray has been hit or miss this year. He usually has a couple of runs in the top 10 and follows it up with a couple of runs in the teens. The good news is that he consistently stays inside the top 20. My plan is to put McMurray on the team and if he looks good in practice I will use him in the race.

* I would use Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Newman or Austin Dillon (In that order) over McMurray if I had more than four allocations with these drivers.

Other good choices: Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon and Kasey Kahne

 

Yahoo Group C Picks

Jeff Gordon (8)

Gordon had a good but not great return to the sport last week at Indianapolis. He started the race 21st and finished 13th. I expect him to run even better this week. There is no doubt that Gordon will be a little behind the other drivers when the cars are unloaded Friday, but he has the third-best average finishing position and six trips to Victory Lane at Pocono. I am sure he will figure it out before the end of the race. Gordon is a must start in Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing this week.

Chase Elliott (5)

Elliott is probably a better option than Gordon this week, but it is more important to save allocations than it is to capture a few extra points by using the No. 24 car over the No. 88. Elliott should have won the first race at Pocono. He qualified fourth, led a series-high 51 laps, had a series-best 130.9 driver ranking and finished fourth in the race. If Elliott is going to Victory Lane this season, it could happen this week at Pocono.

Other Good Choices: Chris Buescher and David Ragan

 

*Stats from Driveraverages.com and career stats from Racing-Reference.Info

 

If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR

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