The beginning of June brings us the Pocono 400, which marks the first Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway in 2018. This week’s event at the “Tricky Triangle” also begins the second half of Cup Series races before the playoffs begin. Starting this week, drivers will start to take more risks, such as staying out of pit road when others ahead of them go in.
Pocono is one of only two active tracks where Kevin Harvick ($11,600 on DraftKings, $13,500 on FanDuel) has never won. He finished second in four of the last seven races at the site and has placed outside of the Top 10 once in that span. Since 2016 at Pocono, Harvick has the second-best Average Finishing Position (4.2) and the most Fastest Laps (121) since 2015. Harvick was fifth in first practice and starts second. Harvick has come close to winning at Pocono a couple of times and is performing as well as he was in 2014 and 2015, when he won the championship and finished second in the championship standings, respectively. Harvick is competitive regardless of track type this season and will vie for the win at Pocono.
Kyle Busch ($11,300 on DraftKings, $12,000 on FanDuel) is the most recent winner at Pocono. He led more laps than any other driver last season (174) and leads in Average Running Position (7.3) and the most Laps in the Top 15 since 2015 (837). He dominated last week’s race at Charlotte and is one of only two drivers with multiple wins this season. Kyle Busch was first in first practice and starts fifth. Considering how he has been strong at Pocono in recent races and his speed in first practice, Kyle Busch is one of the favorites to compete for the win.
Kyle Larson ($10,400 on DraftKings, $10,900 on FanDuel) is a great choice for Pocono this week. In eight starts at the site, Larson has finished 12th or better seven times and he led laps in four of his last five starts. He has shown good consistency in recent weeks as he has placed in the Top 10 in five of the last six races this season. Larson was fourth in first practice and starts 13th. Pocono is one of Larson’s favored tracks and he always feels confidence going to the site. Look for Larson to compete for a Top 5 finish based on his first practice speed while scoring some points from Place Differential.
Nobody has been more consistent at Pocono since 2015 than Brad Keselowski ($9,800 on DraftKings, $11,000 on FanDuel). He has finished in the Top 5 in each of his last five Pocono starts. Since 2015, Keselowski has the fourth-most Laps in the Top 15 (719) and the fifth-most Fastest Laps (43). He starts 17th and was 14th in first practice. Keselowski has showcased slower practice speeds in previous Pocono races, only to finish in the Top 5 every time, and he has placed in the Top 10 in three of the last five races this season. At one of his best tracks, Keselowski should be strongly considered for lineups this week.
Clint Bowyer ($9,500 on DraftKings, $10,300 on FanDuel) is one of the better selections for Pocono this week. In 24 starts at the site, Bowyer has 10 Top 10 finishes, which includes a finish of sixth in his last start at the “Tricky Triangle.” Bowyer has finished with positive PD in the last three races this season and is matching the performance of his 2012 season, which was best year statistically. Bowyer was third in first practice and starts ninth. Based on his first practice speed, watch for Bowyer to finish in the Top 5 while scoring a few points from PD.
MID-RANGE PRICED PICKS
Ryan Blaney ($8,700 on DraftKings, $10,000 on FanDuel) captured his first career Cup Series win last year at Pocono. The track is one of Blaney’s best with three finishes of 11th or better in four starts. He was eighth in first practice and starts first. The first place starting position has produced more winners than any other position (16) at Pocono. It is harder to pass the leader compared to other tracks because of clean air giving drivers in first better speeds than those behind them. Blaney will be hard to pass because his car will be faster than most at the front and he’ll lead many laps as he competes for the win.
Erik Jones ($8,400 on DraftKings, $9,700 on FanDuel) finished in the Top 10, led laps and scored points from PD in both races last season at Pocono. In 16 races this season, Jones has five Top 10 finishes and a better AFP compared to last season (16.5). Jones was 15th in first practice and starts 25th. Jones is in better equipment compared to last season and has always placed well at Pocono. Look for Jones to place in the Top 15 based on his first practice speed with a good chance of finishing in the Top 10.
Aric Almirola’s ($8,200 on DraftKings, $9,100 on FanDuel) best finish in 11 starts at Pocono is 18th. Pocono is one of his worst tracks statistically, but Almirola is much better equipment and has 11 Top 15 finishes in 13 races this season. He was 19th in first practice and starts 34th. Almirola will finish in the Top 20 with a strong chance of placing in the Top 15 while picking up plenty of PD points.
Daniel Suarez ($7,300 on DraftKings, $9,200 on FanDuel) finished seventh in his last start at Pocono. Suarez has finished in the Top 15 in five of the last six races this season. Suarez was 11th in first practice and starts 18th. Suarez was faster in first practice compared to several drivers starting ahead of him and improves at a track with more experience. Suarez will compete for a Top 10 finish and gain points from PD based on his first practice speed.
Paul Menard ($6,600 on DraftKings, $7,600 on FanDuel) finished in the Top 20 in both Pocono races last season. In 22 starts at the site, Menard has six Top 15 finishes. Menard has placed in the Top 15 in the last two races this season. He is with Wood Brothers Racing this season, which won last year at Pocono with Ryan Blaney, and Menard is having a better season overall. Menard was ninth in first practice and starts 20th. Menard will compete for a Top 10 finish based on his first practice speed.
William Byron ($6,300 on DraftKings, $7,000 on FanDuel) is making his first Cup start at Pocono. He finished 12th in his only start at the site in the Xfinity Series. Outside of races where he has crashed, Byron has finished in the Top 20 in all but two of his starts this season. Byron was 13th in first practice and starts 16th. Look for Byron to finish in the Top 15 based on his first practice speed.
Chris Buescher ($5,900 on DraftKings, $6,600 on FanDuel) scored his only Cup Series win to date at Pocono. In four starts at the site, Buecher has two Top 20 finishes. He has finished in the Top 20 in two of the last four races this season. Buescher was 25th in first practice and starts 27th. Pocono is one of Buescher’s better tracks and will finish in the Top 25 based on his first practice speed with a chance to place in the Top 20.
XFINITY SERIES PREVIEW FOR POCONO GREEN 250 (DRAFTKINGS ONLY)
Kyle Busch ($13,500), Chase Elliott ($10,100), and Paul Menard ($9,200) are the Cup regulars competing in this week’s Xfinity race. Busch and Menard have both raced at Pocono before in the Xfinity Series while Elliott is making his first Xfinity start at Pocono. Busch finished fourth in his only start while Menard’s best finish in two starts is seventh. Busch was first in both practices and had the second-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Elliott was sixth in first practice, second in final practice, and had the third-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Menard was ninth in first practice and 16th in final practice. Busch and Elliott are both favorites to compete for the win, while Menard will compete for a Top 10 finish.
Cole Custer ($9,400) and Tyler Reddick ($8,800) will be great options for lineups this weekend. Custer finished seventh in his only Pocono start and Reddick is making his Xfinity debut at Pocono. Custer was eighth in first practice and fourth in final practice. Reddick was fourth in first practice, seventh in final practice, and had the best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Both drivers will compete for a Top 5 finish based on practice speeds.
Austin Cindric ($7,900), Kaz Grala ($7,200), Shane Lee ($7,000), and Dylan Lupton ($6,200) are drivers with lower salaries worth putting in your lineup this week. Lupton is the only driver of this group to have made a previous start at Pocono. Cindric was 11th in first practice and third in final practice. Grala was 22nd in first practice, 12th in final practice, and had the ninth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Lee was 16th in first practice and fifth in final practice. Lupton was 21st in first practice and 23rd in final practice. Cindric will finish in the Top 10 while Grala and Lee will finish in the Top 15 based on their practice speeds with a chance to place in the Top 10. Lupton will finish in the Top 25 based on his practice speed, but has a chance to place in the Top 20.