Qualifying is over. All of the practice laps have been run. This is it. Let’s make some picks. Rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for that day. The information is not developed or provided by NASCAR, Inc., or its affiliates.
High Price Salary
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (12,200) – Let’s play this out in our heads. Every week Junior qualifies poorly, but shows up for the race with a fast machine. Last week Junior worked his way from 43rd to 1st at one point. He’s won the last two races at Pocono, so it’s quite possible that he wins this race (19 Place Differential Points). Add to that finishing position, pass differential, and fast lap points. Even if Junior only finishes in the top 5, he’ll put up a top fantasy score at Pocono.
Kurt Busch (12,500) – He’s got the pole and starting first means everything this year. These cars are very aero dependent, and Kurt will be the only driver in clean air. He’ll get out early and start gobbling up the limited amount of lead lap and fast lap points available this week (160 laps). Behind Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch has been the second best on restarts this year.
Martin Truex Jr. (11,100) – His salary is right on the line between High and Mid Level. The price level debate is more complicated than the actual decision to pick him. Don’t over think it, Truex is on a roll right now. He was fast in the first practice and qualified 3rd. He’s proven over the last three races that he will run out front and score fast laps and laps led points. His Pocono history is average at best, but this year has been anything but average. Lean on his 2015 stats.
Mid Price Salary
Kasey Kahne (10,800) – Hendrick power at a mid level salary. Kahne hasn’t won this year, but he’s impressed in the last two races by working his way through the field and running in the top 5. Kahne has experienced success at Pocono with four different teams throughout this career, but he’s also been bad at Pocono. He was fast in practice and starting in the 12th spot allows Kahne to score place differential points and still have a shot of running up front.
Clint Bowyer (9,200) – It looks like MWR finally figured some things out last weekend. Bowyer moved through the field with ease and ran up front late in the race. He’s starting 23rd and is in a great spot to score place differential and finishing position points. Over his career, Bowyer is a top 15 driver at Pocono.
Ryan Newman (9,500) – The Rocketman and his team have not been brilliant this year, but they find a way to consistently finish near the top. At Pocono, he’s a lock for a top 15. Over the last 8 races at the Tricky Triangle, Newman has an average finish of 7th. Not so tricky, huh? If Newman finishes 7th he will score at least 43 fantasy points. That’s a top 10 fantasy score, and that’s exactly what he has done at the last 3 races at Pocono (remember 43 points is a lot more this week because less laps means less points available).
Low Price Salary
Ty Dillon (7,400) – This is the Brian Scott play part 2. Let’s hope this one goes better. Ty is starting 29th, so he’s the perfect place differential value play. In comparison to other low salary drivers, Dillon is the only driver with top tier equipment (RCR). I would suggest that you analyze Ty Dillon’s ARCA race at Pocono (his 3rd ARCA race at Pocono – he’s got a win here in ARCA), but if he’s your value pick, then you’ve probably already made up your mind. Also, Dillon looked fine in practice.
Aric Almirola (8,300) – He just fits into every lineup. Last week, Almirola went from a safe play to a GPP crusher when he hopscotched his way into the top 5 after a late caution. Almirola qualified 25th, just like usual. During the race, he should once again slide up several spots and bring home a good fantasy day for an $8,000 range driver. Almirola hasn’t been strong at Pocono in the past, but he hasn’t really dominated any track. Almirola is in a nice little groove in 2015, and that’s the stat to hang on.
David Gilliland (7,500) – The #38 Front Row Motorsports Ford qualified 35th. Over the last seven races at Pocono, Gilliland has 5 tops 25 finishes. If Gilliland slides up to 25th, that’s 29 points. In the last two races at Pocono, the 38 has been in the top 20 in fantasy points. Due to the long straightaways, this race is similar in ways to a restrictor plate track. Gilliland and Front Row Motorsports are restrictor plate track wizards.
Long Shot Value Drivers:
Justin Allgaier (7,400) – Low salary, check. Poor qualifying position, check. Past success at Pocono, check (27th and 16th place finish). The problem is that starting 30th slightly limits his place differential point possibilities.
Cole Whitt (7,300) – He’ll start 39th, so he can only go up. He’s raced well at Pocono and Indianapolis in the past. The Ginger Lion has consistently scored place differential points this year.