Fantasy NASCAR at Pocono 2014: Picks, Top Drivers for 400

Chad Robb@@MrFantasyNASCARCorrespondent IJuly 28, 2014

Fantasy NASCAR at Pocono 2014: Picks, Top Drivers for 400

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    The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Long Pond, Pennsylvania, this weekend for the 400.

    Pocono is a difficult race track for drivers to figure out because of its odd shape. The Tricky Triangle should be easier for teams to figure out this weekend, though, because the Sprint Cup Series competed at the track less than two months ago and the race last week at Indianapolis required the same type of setup.

    Brad Keselowski had the car to beat in the June race at Pocono. He started the race from the second row and led 95 of the 160 laps.

    Keselowski was leading the race when he got debris on the grill of his car. Instead of taking a chance of having his car overheat, he decided to slow down and use Danica Patrick’s car to help remove the debris. When he slowed down, Dale Earnhardt Jr. raced past him for the win. The victory was Earnhardt’s second win of the season.

    Fantasy teams this week should consider not only which driver to select, but also which crew chief will be leading that driver to Victory Lane. The races at Pocono usually come down to which team has the best strategy to win the race. Five crew chiefs to consider this week are Chad Knaus (Jimmie Johnson), Paul Wolfe (Brad Keselowski), Steve Letarte (Dale Earnhardt Jr.), Darian Grubb (Denny Hamlin) and Alan Gustafson (Jeff Gordon).

    Here are my picks for the 400 at Pocono.

Yahoo Group A Picks

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    Fantasy teams will have a hard time finding a bad pick from Group A. Any of the drivers from Hendrick Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing or Joe Gibbs Racing would be a good choice this week. However, I would suggest staying away from the drivers from Roush Fenway Racing. The team struggled in the June race at Pocono.

    Here are the drivers I selected for Group A.

    Jimmie Johnson (5)

    Jimmie Johnson is the safest pick in Group A this week. He won the pole for two of the last three races at Pocono and has the second-best driver rating in the last four races at the race track. Johnson has three wins at Pocono and three wins this season. He could easily add another win to his totals Sunday.

    Jeff Gordon (5)

    After winning the Brickyard 400 for the fifth time Sunday, Jeff Gordon brings a lot of momentum into the race at Pocono. He had a good race at Pocono in June, starting fifth and finishing eighth. Gordon also has six wins at the race track, so he knows his way around the Tricky Triangle. Do not be surprised to see him back in Victory Lane this weekend.

    Other good choices: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch

Yahoo Group B Picks

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    Do not be surprised to see the winner of the 400 come from Group B. The group is loaded with talent this week. It includes drivers who have had a lot of success in their careers at Pocono and drivers who finished up front in the June race at the track.

    Brad Keselowski (2)

    It really doesn't matter how many allocations you have with Brad Keselowski. If you have any starts left with him, Keselowski should be on your team. He has consistently qualified up front and has been the driver to beat each week.

    It is just a matter of time before the drivers from Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing figure out the setup on their cars and put a halt to Team Penske’s run. But Keselowski should have won the last race at Pocono, and he is a good pick to end up in Victory Lane Sunday.

    Joey Logano (3)

    Joey Logano has not been as good as his teammate, Brad Keselowski, but he has been better than most of the other drivers in the field. The best advice for using Logano this week is to have him on your team for qualifying and hope he can score your team bonus points. If he starts up front, use him in the race. If he fails to qualify up front, leave Logano on your bench and save the allocation for another race track.

    Denny Hamlin (4)

    Pocono is one of Denny Hamlin’s best race tracks. He has four wins and has finished 11 of his 17 starts in the top 10 at the race track. In the June race, Hamlin started on the pole, led the first four laps and finished fourth. Joe Gibbs Racing is starting to overcome the problems it had earlier in the season. Now is the time to start using Hamlin on your team again.

    Ryan Newman (5)

    Ryan Newman is a safe pick for your team this week. He has finished six of the last seven races at Pocono inside the top 10. In the last race at the track, he started 15th and finished seventh. If the drivers listed above struggle in qualifying, it may be worth the risk to start Newman in this race.

    Other good choices: Jamie McMurray, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards and Martin Truex Jr.

Yahoo Group C Picks

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    At Indianapolis Motor Speedway, fantasy players had many choices from Group C. Juan Pablo Montoya, Bobby Labonte and Trevor Bayne allowed teams to take a break from using the regular drivers from this group. That will not be the case this week.

    Most teams will use Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon, so it will be hard to gain ground on your competition. If you are feeling lucky, take a chance with Justin Allgaier or Michael Annett. Both drivers had a good run in the last race at Pocono.

    Kyle Larson (2)

    It did not take Kyle Larson long to figure out the large flat tracks. In the June race at Pocono, he started 14th and finished fifth. On Sunday at Indianapolis, Larson started 15th and finished seventh. He is the best option in Group C this week.

    Austin Dillon (6)

    Austin Dillon is the next best option behind Larson. He has competed in only one race in the Sprint Cup Series at Pocono, but he was able to finish in the top 20. If Larson does not qualify well, Dillon would be a great backup to have on your team.

    Other Good Choices: Justin Allgaier and Michael Annett

Fantasy Live Picks

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    Fantasy Live Picks: Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski, Michael Annett, Reed Sorenson

    The best advice for Fantasy Live is to select a combination of drivers who will start from the back and move their way to the front and drivers who should lead many laps in the race.

    Keselowski and Johnson are good candidates to start up front and lead many laps. The two drivers combined to lead 100 of the 160 laps in the June race. If Keselowski and Johnson can duplicate how they ran in the last race, they will score your team 80 bonus points.

    Dale Jr. usually doesn't qualify as well as he runs in the race. He is a good candidate to start in the middle of the field and work his way to the front. Earnhardt won the last race at Pocono.

    Meanwhile, Annett and Reed Sorenson are both great value picks. Annett finished in the top 20 in the last race at Pocono, and Sorenson finished 34th.

Fox Fantasy Racing Picks

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    The rules for Fox Fantasy Live reward drivers who start in the back of the field and advance in the race more than other fantasy NASCAR games do. For this reason, fantasy players should choose drivers who start in the back and have a good chance to move to the front during the race.

    Keselowski dominated Pocono two months ago, so he is the captain of the team this week. Johnson, Hamlin and Kurt Busch have had a lot of success at Pocono during their careers. Each driver finished in the top five in the June race at the track and would be a good selection for your team this week.

    Logano ran well in the June race until he was involved in an accident. This is a good race track for him, so he should finish up front.

    Captain: Brad Keselowski

    Driver 2: Jimmie Johnson

    Driver 3: Denny Hamlin

    Driver 4: Kurt Busch

    Driver 5: Joey Logano

    *Stats from and career stats from Racing-Reference.Info.

    If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCARIf you like Fantasy NASCAR, LIKE my Fantasy NASCAR Tips Page on Facebook