DraftKings DFS NASCAR Picks: Windows 10 400
For the second time this season the Sprint Cup Series boys roll into the hills of Eastern Pennsylvania for the Windows 10 400 at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond. It is just the second time on the schedule the circuit is back at a venue for the second time (Daytona).
If it seems rather recent that the green flag dropped at Pocono, that’s because it was. The Axalta ‘We Paint Winners’ 400 at Pocono was June 7, and we saw Furniture Row Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. ($10,300) end a lengthy drought with a trip to Victory Lane. Based on his win in June, he could be an attractive start since he goes off 13th in Sunday’s race since he could accumulate plenty of DFS points with a positive place differential and favorable finishing position if he is better than 13th.
Looking over NASCAR’s Loop Data does not show MTJ registering in the Top 10 in the past five races in terms of Driver Rating.
However, all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers are in the top eight spots in the category. Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($9,200) pulled off the sweep at the ‘Tricky Triangle’ in 2014, and he sits at the top of the list in Driver Rating at 116.9, running inside the Top 15 in 91.3 percent of his laps since the 2013 spring run here.
Teammate Jeff Gordon ($9,300) checks in third in Driver Rating at 108.9, posting a respectable 8.4 Average-Finish Position (AFP) during the span. Gordon will start on the fifth row, and he could accumulate some meager DFS points if he meets his AFP. However, he isn’t as good of a value as his teammates in that respect.
And Jimmie Johnson ($10,400) is stellar everywhere, and Pocono is no exception. He has a 105.1 Driver Rating, although he has run inside the Top 15 just 66.8 percent of his laps, significantly less than Little E and Gordon. However, J.J. was third at the spring race after going off ninth, a nice improvement in position differential, garnering big points in Finishing Scoring Position. He is always a favorite DFS pick, and the fact he goes off 12th in Sunday’s race means he’ll likely grab plenty of points moving up the leaderboard. He has 27 career starts at Pocono, winning just twice. However, he has been inside the Top 10 on 18 separate occasions, and he has finished outside of the Top 20 just twice, one time due to a DNF.
The Hendrick sleeper is Kasey Kahne ($8,700). While the spring race wasn’t his best, he started 12th and finished 13th in that run. However, over the past five races at Pocono he has a decent 95.7 Driver Rating while running inside the Top 15 in 64.5 percent of his laps. What cannot be overlooked is that he was out front for 68 laps, fourth-most among all drivers, just behind teammates Gordon, Johnson and Penske driver Brad Keselowski ($9,400). Each lap led gets .25 points at DraftKings, and is an often overlooked category. Believe me, those quarter points add up.
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kurt Busch ($10,100) cannot be considered a sleeper due to his high salary, but with the Hendrick domination, as well as being overshadowed by his teammate Kevin Harvick ($11,700), the elder Busch can inexplicably get overlooked sometimes. He is second in Driver Rating at 114.3 over the past five stops at Pocono, and he posted a fifth-place finish in the spring. And he leads all drivers with an amazing 93.5 percent of his laps run inside the Top 15 during the impressive stretch. He has two wins in 28 career starts in Long Pond, and he has 12 Top 5 showings which is DFS gold. He does have five DNFs, too, which is tied with Gordon for most among active drivers, so there is a slight risk here. But his domination at the track lately overshadows some early mishaps in his career. The mercurial Busch will go off sixth on Sunday.
Oh yeah. Kurt’s brother Kyle Busch ($10,800) has won three races in a row, four of the past five, and he just so happens to be on the pole for the Windows 10 400. On the surface he would appear to be a pretty solid DFS option given his dominance lately. However, Pocono has not been a place that is kind to the younger Busch brother over the years. He has 21 career starts at Pocono with zero wins, just four Top 5s and only eight Top 10 finishes while posting a very pedestrian 18.3 AFP while logging five DNFs. He doesn’t register in the Top 10 in terms of Driver Rating over the past five runs at Pocono, and as such he is a bit overpriced.
The only place I see him going is down the leaderboard from his pole position, and that means negative Fantasy points with each spot he descends. He is the second-most expensive option on the board due to his amazing recent run of checkered flags, but that cannot last forever and he is due for a stinker. If he ends up exorcising his demons at Pocono and wins again, shame on me. I am thinking a finish in the neighborhood of 15-20th, however, which means a terrible return on your investment. Plus, the exposure will be tremendous with Rowdy, as nearly all of the newbies will have him. Be a contrarian and take advantage when he tumbles down the board.
Kyle Larson ($8,300) has been a popular pick lately, but he hasn’t been able to finish what he starts. He went off fourth at Sonoma, came in 15th. He started 16th at Daytona, ended the day 39th. He was on the pole in Kentucky, tumbling to 35th. He was 17th at New Hampshire, but fell to 31st. He was fifth at Indianapolis, and was ninth. However, the last time he finished higher than he started was Pocono, going off 15th and recording an eighth-place showing. In fact, in three starts at Pocono he has a 93.6 Driver Rating with an AFP of 8.0, right where he was in spring. Something about the track agrees with his driving style. He didn’t qualify particularly well, and he’ll be in the middle of the pack starting 27th Sunday. That’s a good thing, though, based on his past results. Position differential should be in his favor again, meaning big-time DFS production at a cut rate price.
For a while this was a place Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin ($9,300) absolutely owned, but lately the results haven’t been good. Still, he has four career wins at the three-turn track, posting nine Top 5 finishes in 19 career starts with an 11.8 AFP. He also leads all active drivers with a 108.3 Driver Rating over his career. He finished 10th in the spring race, and will go off 11th this weekend. He is such a big name that, like Kurt Busch above, it’s hard to call him a sleeper, but it seems nobody is talking about him. That’s usually when the No. 11 strikes and finds his way to Victory Lane.
Austin Dillon ($7,500) turned in the 11th-quickest lap time in Happy Hour practice, and he qualified even better. He will start fourth thanks to a speed of 177.658 mph. He finished 19th in the spring, and he has never finished inside the Top 10 in three career starts, but the No. 3 has looked good all weekend and is worth a roll of the dice at this low price. Paul Menard ($7,400) is in the same boat as Dillon, posting a speed of 173.354 mph in practice, 15th among all drivers. He has 17 career starts at Pocono, posting just two Top 10s with a 23.6 AFP, including a dismal 31st place in the spring. However, he starts 18th and could move up the boards if he does what he did in practice.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($6,400) appears to be a nice low-priced sleeper for Sunday’s race, but at Pocono he has mostly just been asleep. He finished 42nd in the spring race, and it mirrors his troubles at the unique track during the early part of his career. In five career starts he has just two Top 20 showings, posting a dismal 27.0 AFP. He did not qualify well, and will start 34th. Leave him in the DFS garage.