Can Kyle Busch finally cash in at Pocono?
DraftKings' daily fantasy NASCAR game turns toward the Tricky Triangle in northeast Pennsylvania this weekend. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Pocono Raceway for the Overton’s 400 this Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m.
Cars hit the track on Saturday at 9 a.m. for first practice. After that, Pocono also marks the first weekend where Cup Series qualifying will be held on race day. Drivers battle for the Coors Light Pole Award at 11:30 a.m Sunday before coverage shifts to the race on NBCSN.
ELITE TIER: $9,500 and up
Kyle Busch ($10,700)
Pocono: 25 starts, four top fives (16 percent), 10 top 10s (40 percent)
Average finish at Pocono: 18.2
There are only two tracks left on the MENCS schedule at which Busch has yet to win, and one of them is Pocono. Busch almost pulled it off in the series’ first stop at the track back in June, but like many other times this season, he came up short. The series veteran led 100 of 160 available laps during that race before sliding to ninth at the finish.
Busch was the dominant car last weekend at Indianapolis, but a tight race with Martin Truex Jr. for the lead led to his day ending early. He ran out front the entire time he was on track, which seems to be the theme throughout the Cup Series' first 20 races. At some point, Busch is actually going to cash in and Pocono could be the weekend he does so.
Kyle Larson ($10,100)
Pocono: Seven starts, one top five, four top 10s
Average finish at Pocono: 8.6
Larson finally conquered his pre-qualifying NASCAR inspection quarrels last weekend. He just didn't have the speed, starting mid-pack after a shaky first round at Indy. Then, he was one of many drivers bitten by bad luck during the race, finishing 28th following a wreck.
This weekend should be a time he bounces back despite news Target won't sponsor the No. 42 car in 2018. In seven races at Pocono, Larson has not finished worse than 12th. He is averaging a result of 8.6, which he bested by one position at the track last month.
In that June race, Larson led nine laps. That brought his count to five races with laps led in his seven career starts. Should that momentum keep rolling along, Larson will find himself up front once again.
Jimmie Johnson ($9,600)
Pocono: 31 starts, three wins, 11 top fives (35.5 percent), 19 top 10s (61.3 percent)
Average finish at Pocono: 11.4
An oil leak ended what was an impressive run at the front for Johnson late in the race at Indy. Johnson squeezed himself into the battle for the lead, jostling with Kasey Kahne and Brad Keselowski until the car gave up on him.
Johnson has been streaky but is on the upswing as of late. He has shown speed and contended for wins the past few weeks, even though the results don’t necessarily match. Expect the seven-time series champion to mingle with the top cars again this weekend.
ALL-STAR TIER: $8,000 – $9,400
Brad Keselowski ($9,100)
Pocono: 15 starts, one win, seven top fives (46.7 percent), eight top 10s (53.3 percent)
Average finish at Pocono: 10.9
Keselowski’s average finish of 10.9 is fifth best out of all active drivers at Pocono. Even more impressive is the way he has run here the past four races. He finished second twice, piling up additional runs of third and fifth while also leading laps in three of those four races.
Keselowski is one of five drivers with multiple wins on the year. He will look to tie up Truex and add a third victory to his total this weekend.
Ryan Blaney ($8,700)
Pocono: Three starts, one win, one top five, two top 10s
Average finish at Pocono: 7.3
Blaney notched his first career Cup Series win and 99th overall for the Wood Brothers at Pocono in June. He started fourth en route to Victory Lane.
Blaney has an average finish of 7.3 through his three career starts there and no longer flies under the radar due to the success he has seen this season. Now, Blaney's flying high after reports this week were made official that he'll transition to a Team Penske Ford for 2018.
Blaney has outperformed future teammate Joey Logano and has matched the success of Keselowski. He's a legitimate threat to sweep here this season.
Erik Jones ($8,300)
Pocono: One start (third-place finish)
Average finish at Pocono: 3.0
Jones has been all-or-nothing this season. He either runs well up front or he gets caught in a wreck and is the reason you don’t cash out on DraftKings. He has wrecked in six of the 20 races so far in 2017, which may cause hesitation when looking his way.
But even with a little downside, it can’t distract from the fact that Jones has been fast every week. He is a strong underdog candidate at a track where he picked up a season-high third-place finish.
BARGAIN TIER: $4,500 – $7,900
Ryan Newman ($7,600)
Pocono: 31 starts, one win, nine top fives (29 percent), 14 top 10s (45.2 percent)
Average finish at Pocono: 12.8
Newman is coming off another great podium finish at Indianapolis (third place, his best since winning at Phoenix in March). A mid-range price at Pocono could make him a great addition to your lineup.
Newman has a series best 1,008 quality passes over his Pocono career. He finished 14th there in June and has 24 top-15 finishes through 31 career starts. Newman is a top-15 racer that turns those into top 10s when momentum is in his corner.
Austin Dillon ($6,900)
Pocono: Seven starts, four top 15s
Average finish at Pocono: 18.1
Dillon finished 13th here in June, his third 13th-place finish in the past four Pocono races. He only has one finish outside the top 10 through seven starts here. Dillon has been consistent in the way he has raced at Pocono, and it shouldn’t be any different this Sunday.
Dillon is locked into the playoffs due to his win at Charlotte and can risk it all for the win on a weekly basis. His consistency makes him another high-reward potential driver.
The price of $6,900 is not too shabby, either. Expect Dillon to sneak into the top 15 again on Sunday.
(Top photo by ASP Inc.)