We’re at Pocono Raceway for the Gander RV 400 this weekend, and good news: there’s no major weather in the forecast! Often times we deal with rain at Pocono, but the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series was able to get both practice sessions and qualifying in on Saturday, and Sunday’s forecast for the race looks good, too. Now, as far as Fantasy NASCAR goes at Pocono, track position is everything. We last raced here back in June and the top six qualifiers all finished 9th or better, with all but one finishing 6th or better. So that obviously opens up the door to picking drivers for finish and Stage points in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest.
Click here for the starting lineup for this weekend’s race at Pocono Raceway. Also if you’d like to analyze the results from Saturday’s first practice, you can do so by clicking here. For speeds from the second practice (Happy Hour), click here.
Please note that starting positions will not be official until Sunday morning, as this is an impound race. Obviously anybody that fails inspection will become a “chalk” pick in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest.
*Please note: the picks and suggestions below are my opinions and strategy for the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. These are not meant to sway your thinking in any way, but rather give you insight into the drivers I am most likely to pick on Sunday.*
Pocono 2 Gander RV 400 Slingshot Picks
NOTE: The inspection process hit hard today, so I will be going with mainly place differential drivers. My lineup is: Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, William Byron, Austin Dillon, Chris Buescher.
Kyle Busch ($13,000) – The fact that Kyle Busch didn’t qualify up front this weekend just guaranteed him a spot on my Slingshot roster for Pocono 2. This track has been one of Rowdy’s playgrounds as of late, as the #18 Toyota has gone to victory lane in three of the last four races at “The Tricky Triangle,” including the first race here this season, when Kyle started second and led almost half of the race. This weekend, not only does the Fantasy Racing Online Algorithm have him as a very heavy favorite, but Kyle was one of the few drivers that showed consistent speed over both practice sessions on Saturday. The only thing I’m not confident in with Rowdy this weekend is him leading the most laps, but that’s still in play (I just think Kevin Harvick ($12,200) is going to be hard to pass out front). Busch is a no-brainer play this weekend and I’ll gladly pay that high salary.
Brad Keselowski ($11,800) – This pick scares me a little bit but, in reality, it shouldn’t; Brad Keselowski’s track record at Pocono Raceway is insane! Over the last eight races here, the #2 Ford has finished inside the top 5 seven times, including three runner-up finishes. The only exception? Last year’s July race, when Brad wrecked and ended up finishing 38th. But, hey, stuff like that happens. Really what scares me is the fact that Penske hasn’t shown a ton of speed this weekend, as well as the fact that the #2 Ford had some power steering issues in first practice. I haven’t heard anything else about that, though, so I’m going to assume we’re all clear here. Keselowski qualified 14th on Saturday so there’s some very good place differential potential there.
Kyle Larson ($10,700) – Here’s another pick I don’t particularly love, but I can’t pass up those place differential points. Kyle Larson wrecked his primary car in the first practice session on Saturday, so with limited practice time it’s not surprising that he qualified 29th later that day. He’ll have to start from the rear when the Gander RV 400 goes green, but that’s not really a big deal in my mind because he’ll just have to line up behind a bunch of back markers. Overall, Pocono Raceway has been kind to Larson over his career, as he has posted eight finishes of 12th or better in his eleven career starts. The bad news? Three of the last four races here have ended with him in 23rd or worse. Hopefully this #42 team has gotten their bad luck out of the way this season and Larson can come through with a huge points day in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest on Sunday.
Chris Buescher ($7,800) – With the recent success of Matt DiBenedetto ($7,000), it’s easy to forget how much of a fantasy gold mine Chris Buescher has been all season long. Yet here he is, still chugging along, with nine straight finishes of 18th or better and an average place differential of +9.1 spots per race. Buescher started 24th and finished 14th here at Pocono back in June, and this time around, he could have a very similar performance, as he was the 28th-fastest car during qualifying on Saturday. The #37 Chevrolet was 22nd- and 18th-fastest in the two practice sessions this weekend, though, so I fully expect Buscher to move up on Sunday. He’s finished between 14th and 19th in three of his last five starts here at Pocono since lucking into that win here back in 2016.
Daniel Hemric ($6,600) – The last couple of weeks have been rough for Daniel Hemric and the #8 team. But don’t forget that, before New Hampshire and Kentucky, this team had a five-race streak of finishes between 12th and 18th. And that streak includes the first race here at Pocono of this season, a 13th-place result by Hemric (along with three laps led). The #8 Chevrolet is tentatively slated to roll off the grid from 22nd here on Sunday, and if Hemric can have a similar performance to the last time around here, he’s going to put up a great Slingshot score for a very little price. He showed top 20 speed in both practice sessions here on Saturday, and his teammate, Austin Dillon ($8,300), qualified up front, which is a good sign (in my mind) for team speed with Hemric.