The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to Pocono Raceway for the Party in the Poconos 400.
The racetrack was repaved last year and made the Tricky Triangle a little trickier. With only one grove in the new surface, drivers had to fight for position. This year the racetrack will have more wear in it which will provide for some better racing.
The challenge for NASCAR teams this week will be navigating the three corners of the racetrack. Teams who can balance their cars in each corner will dominate the race. Usually those teams consist of drivers from Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing.
Two NASCAR teams traveled to Pocono for a two-day test session last week. Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman and Danica Patrick from Stewart Haas Racing tested with Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and Paul Menard from Richard Childress Racing. Each of these drivers will have a jump on the competition this week. Stewart made his test at Dover pay off last week and could do it again.
The strategy for the Fantasy Live game should be to select as many drivers from Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing as possible. These two teams have dominated the 2013 season and each have a history of being very good at Pocono.
Unlike the Fantasy Live game where fantasy players have until the drop of the green flag to select their team, people playing the Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing game must have their lineups selected early on Friday morning. The first practice and qualifying will begin after your team has been selected, so players will not have any data to use when selecting their team. Have no fear, I can help.
Here are my picks for the Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing game…
There have been plenty of drivers to choose from in Group A this season. Nine of the 13 races have been won by drivers from this group. I expect another driver from this group to win on Sunday.
If you want to go against what your competitors may pick this week, select Kevin Harvick. He has been won two of the last four races and last week’s tire test at Pocono should make him even better.
My sleeper pick for Group A is Jeff Gordon. He has the fourth-best driver rating of 131.3, the third-most laps run in the top 15, the fourth-most green flag passes and the third-best average finish at Pocono. He will easily finish in the top 10 this week.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group A and stats from the NASCAR Media Center based upon the driver’s career statistics at Pocono….
Some fantasy NASCAR players will want to save a start will Johnson this week and choose another driver. I would advise against that strategy. There is plenty of talent in Group A to get you through the season. Use Johnson while he is hot at one of his best racetracks.
Johnson has two wins, nine top-five finishes, 15 top-10 finishes and four poles in his 21 career races at Pocono. He also has a series-best average finish of No. 9, series-best 2,376 laps run in the top 15, the third-most laps led and the second-best driver rating of 129.4.
Johnson is my pick to win this week at Pocono.
Denny Hamlin has had no problems in his return from his back injury. Hamlin won the pole for the last races and has a good chance to do it again this week.
Hamlin has four wins, eight top-five finishes, nine top-10 finishes and two poles in his 14 career races at Pocono. He also has a series-best 149.1 driver’s rating, series-best 663 laps led and a series-best average green flag speed of 160.939 mph.
Hamlin will race Jimmie Johnson for the victory at Pocono.
Other good choices: Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart
Finding talent in Group B will be more difficult this week. Most of the drivers who dominate at Pocono are in Group A. There are some drivers who should perform well and some unexpected drivers from this group who may crack the top five.
If you want a sleeper this week, Juan Pablo Montoya is your driver. Pocono drives like a triangle road course. This will give Montoya and advantage this week. Montoya won the pole for the last race at Pocono, led seven laps and finished No. 20. He will perform better than that this week.
Here are the four drivers I selected for Group B and stats from the NASCAR Media Center based upon their career statistics at Pocono….
Carl Edwards is the best choice in Group B this week. He has been in a minor slump lately, but he will bounce back at Pocono.
Edwards has two wins, five top-five finishes and eight top-10 finishes in his 16 career races at Pocono. He has the sixth-best driver’s rating of 138.5, led the fourth-most laps and has the sixth-best green flag speed of 160.284 mph at Pocono.
Edwards will score his sixth top-five finish this week at Pocono.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. may not qualify up front for the race at Pocono, but that does not mean he will not finish up front. The No. 88 team has been consistent at making its car better throughout the races. It will do it again on Sunday.
Earnhardt has five top-five finishes, nine top-10 finishes and one pole in his 26 career races at Pocono. His statistics are not great at the racetrack, but he has finished three of the last four races at Pocono in the top 10. Another top-10 finish is likely on Sunday.
The tire test by Stewart Haas Racing will benefit Ryan Newman this week. He knows how to get around the racetrack and will be a threat to win the pole on Sunday.
Newman has one win, seven top-five finishes, 10 top-10 finishes and two poles in his 22 career races at Pocono. He also has the second-most laps run in the top-15 with 2,287; the seventh-best driver’s rating of 124.9 and the sixth-best average finish of No. 6.
This is the week to get a start from Newman for your team.
Kurt Busch has performed well the last month and his hot streak will continue at Pocono. The No. 78 team is a single car team but they really are an extension of Hendrick Motorsports, since the team gets its cars and engines from Hendricks Motorsports
Busch has two wins, nine top-five finishes, 12 top-10 finishes and one pole in his 23 career races at Pocono. He has the sixth-best average starting position of 16.1, the second-most laps led with 445, the third-best green flag speed of 160.544 mph and the third-best driver’s rating of 103.7.
Kurt has a good chance to win his first race since Dover in 2011.
Other good choices: Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Joey Logano
Fantasy NASCAR received a gift this week from Phoenix Racing. A.J. Allmendinger will once again be the driver of the No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevy.
Allmendinger has competed in four races in the No. 51 car and his worst finish is No. 16. He will easily finish inside the top 20 again this week.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is the only other good choice in Group C. This will be Stenhouse’s first career race at Pocono, but the three practice sessions should provide him enough time to figure out the tricky triangle.
If you want a sleeper for Group C, use Casey Mears. He has performed well lately and will finish inside the top 25.
2012 Pocono June Pole Sitter: Joey Logano 179.598 MPH
2012 Pocono August Pole Sitter: Juan Pablo Montoya 176.043 MPH
2012 Pocono June Winner: Joey Logano, Started No. 1
2012 Pocono August Winner: Jeff Gordon, Started No. 27
Most Wins at Pocono, Active Drivers: Jeff Gordon (6)
Most Poles at Pocono, Active Drivers: Mark Martin (3)
Most Top-Five Finishes, Active Drive: Mark Martin (20)
Most Top-10 Finishes, Active Driver: Mark Martin (34)
Most Wins by Manufacturer: Chevy (26)
Worst Starting Spot to Win: Carl Edwards, 2005, started No. 29
Races Won from the Pole: 15 of 70
Races Won from Top Five: 44 of 70
Races Won from Top 10: 49 of 70
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
If you like Fantasy NASCAR, LIKE my Fantasy NASCAR Tips Page on Facebook