NASCAR Picks for Pocono
Length: 2.500 miles
Location: Long Pond, Pennsylvania
Article: Party in the Poconos 400 Practice Recap: Drivers to Watch
The Sprint Cup Series heads to Pocono Raceway this weekend, and the track is one of the most unique on the schedule. It has a massive 2.5-mile distance to go along with a strange triangle-shaped layout. Throw in little banking around the entire track and three completely different types of turns, and good-handling cars are tough to come by at Pocono. In fact, drivers often aim to dial in their cars in at least two of the corners and simply hold their own in the other. As if the track's tricky layout wasn't out, the long lap times and long green flag runs that are prevalent at Pocono often bring pit strategy and fuel mileage into play. Races at Pocono tend to get knocked for being a bit boring, but it certainly isn't easy to win them.
From a fantasy standpoint, setting a roster for Pocono can also be difficult. There are only a handful of drivers that have been consistently great at the track, and even the best drivers have had their records at Pocono marred by bad finishes. Not to mention the fact that picking sleeper options to fill out rosters is often a hit-and-miss game. With track position, fuel mileage and all the other variables that go into running well at Pocono, a little luck could be a fantasy owner's best friend this weekend.
Jimmie Johnson, #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
While he only has two wins at Pocono, Johnson's reliability at the track is unmatched. His 9.0 average finish is the best in the series; in 22 starts, he has finished outside the top 15 only once. More importantly, Johnson has reeled off 11 straight top-15 finishes at Pocono and has three fourth-place finishes in his last four starts.
Denny Hamlin, #11 FedEx, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
His 10.7 average finish at Pocono is the second best in the series, and Hamlin is as good as any driver when it comes to running up front at the track. In 14 starts, he has finished sixth or better nine times. More importantly, he has made four trips to victory lane at the track.
Brad Keselowski, #2 Miller Lite, Penske Racing [Yahoo Class A]
For whatever reason, Keselowski has been dialed in at Pocono since being forced to race at the track with a broken ankle. In fact, he won at Pocono just days after suffering the injury and has a 7.7 average finish and two top-five finishes in his last three starts at the track. Keselowski broke out of his mini slump last weekend at Dover, and the good times should continue to roll at Pocono.
Jeff Gordon, #24 Drive to End Hunger/Axalta, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
Gordon has been excellent at Pocono lately, finishing sixth or better four times in his last five starts at the track. More importantly, he has a pair of victories during the stretch and has three wins at the track since 2007. Throw in the fact that Gordon has 10 top-10 finishes in his last 13 starts, and he provides a nice blend of reliability and upside this weekend.
Carl Edwards, #99 Fastenal/Aflac/UPS/Subway, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class B]
In his last 10 starts at Pocono, Edwards has finished 12th or better eight times, including each of his last three starts. He has a 10.7 average finish during the stretch, and overall Edwards is a two-time winner at Pocono. He should be good for at least a top-10 finish this weekend, and a win isn't out of the question.
Matt Kenseth, #20 Husky/Dollar General, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Although he hasn't had a top-five finish at Pocono since 2006 (but seeing as how he has had a car capable of winning every single race this season), it would be ridiculous to count out Kenseth this weekend. Granted, fantasy owners will probably want to save him for another week in leagues that limit the number of times a driver can be used, don't be shocked if Kenseth has one of his better performances at Pocono Sunday.
Kevin Harvick, #29 Budweiser/Rheem, Richard Childress Racing [Yahoo Class A]
It has been smooth sailing for Harvick at Pocono lately, and he has finished 16th or better in seven straight starts at the track. He also has three top-five finishes during the stretch, and since the start of the 2005 season, he has finished outside the top 20 only once in 16 starts. Fantasy owners will have a tough time finding a safer option this weekend.
Kasey Kahne, #5 Farmers Insurance/Quaker State, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
He has been very hit or miss at Pocono, but there is no denying Kahne's upside. For one, he is a former winner at the track. He also finished second at Pocono last fall in just his second start at the track with Hendrick Motorsports. As great as the organization has been at Pocono, Kahne should start to iron out the inconsistencies that have plagued him at Pocono.
Tony Stewart, #14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1, Stewart-Haas Racing [Yahoo Class A]
The calendar flipped to June, and Stewart immediately went to victory lane. Now, he heads to a Pocono track where he has enjoyed a ton of success throughout his career. Stewart has finished 11th or better 13 times in his last 15 starts at the track, and he logged a pair of top-five finishes at Pocono last year.
Kurt Busch, #78 Furniture Row, Furniture Row Racing [Yahoo Class B]
If Busch is going to sneak into victory lane in the No. 78, Sunday's trip to Pocono could be his chance. After all, he is a two-time winner at the track, and he has finished second on four other occasions. Busch also has four top-10s in his last six starts at Pocono, so even if he doesn't win, he should still provide a quality finish.
Martin Truex, Jr., #56 NAPA Auto Parts, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Truex has quietly turned into a solid fantasy option at Pocono the past few years. He has tallied four finishes of 12th or better in his last five starts at the track, and last August, he finished a career-best third. Truex also has a 10.8 average finish during the five-race stretch, so recent history suggests he will be battling around the top 10 this weekend.
Clint Bowyer, #15 5-Hour Energy, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class A]
He has been solid but unspectacular at Pocono throughout his career, compiling a 15.1 average finish in 14 starts. During those starts, he has managed just a single top-five finish, but Bowyer has reeled off nine straight top-20s, including a pair of top-10s in 2012. Fantasy owners shouldn't expect Bowyer to contend for the win Sunday, but he is more than capable of providing a quality finish.