This article is part of our DraftKings NASCAR series.
Location: Long Pond, Penn.
Course: Pocono Raceway
Format: 2.5-mile tri-oval
Martin Truex Jr. tuned his car to be the fastest in the second half of last week's Coca-Cola 400 to earn his third win of the season. He led 116 of the 400 laps on his way to Victory Lane and continues to build momentum and confidence ahead of the playoffs. Penske Racing also ran strongly with Joey Logano finishing second and Brad Keselowski leading 76 laps and taking stage victories. That means Ford has closed some of the gap in performance Toyota opened a few weeks ago. That is good news as the series heads to Pocono Raceway and the Pocono 400 this weekend. Toyota has won the last three races at the Pennsylvania triangle, but Ford could be worthy challengers. Truex won this race last season in a race otherwise dominated by Kevin Harvick. If Harvick were to complete the job this week it would be the first win of the season for the Stewart-Haas Racing team who are still trying to close the gap to the frontrunners. Interestingly, there have only been two Pocono wins from Ford in the last 10 races at the track. Chevrolet and Toyota have four each in the same period.
Key Stats at Pocono Raceway
• Number of previous races: 82
• Winners from pole: 16
• Winners from top-5 starters: 48
• Winners from top-10 starters: 58
• Winners from 21st or lower starters: 7
• Fastest race: 145.384 mph
Last 10 Pocono Winners
2018 fall - Kyle Busch
2018 spring- Martin Truex Jr.
2017 fall - Kyle Busch
2017 spring - Ryan Blaney
2016 fall - Chris Buescher
2016 spring - Kurt Busch
2015 fall - Matt Kenseth
2015 spring - Martin Truex Jr.
2014 fall - Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2014 spring - Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Pocono Raceway was designed with three distinctly different corners. Teams will seek a compromise in handling between all parts of the track while heavily weighting the long sweeping turn 3 in order to maximize speed down the long front straight. This is a circuit that has a tendency to be tough on the cars with long straights, punishing turns, and shifting throughout the lap. Drivers will need to manage their equipment and preserve their tires. While tire wear hasn't been a huge issue recently we did see failures in Charlotte. Teams will have to be wary of that since riding the bottom lane in each of Pocono's turns mean a long ride up the banking and into the wall should a failure occur. Restarts and fuel strategy often play a role in the outcome of races at this circuit and its long lap distance opens the door to different strategies throughout the field. Typically, drivers that are quick early in the weekend carry that speed into the race on Sunday and are able to spend much of the day out front. Only two winners in the past 10 Pocono races have started outside of the top 10, and one of those was Chris Buescher who won a rain-shortened race in 2016.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
DraftKings Tier 1 Values
DraftKings Tier 2 Values
DraftKings Tier 3 Values
DraftKings Long-Shot Values
MY PICKS THIS WEEK
Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)
Kyle Busch's high price tag this week makes Martin Truex Jr. a great selection. Truex won last week in Charlotte to join Busch and Brad Keselowski with the most wins so far this season and he is the defending race winner. Truex is as competitive as Busch right now and a much less expensive alternative. Denny Hamlin has also had plenty of Pocono success with four career wins. He has three top-10s in the last five visits to the track and often leads laps there. Bad luck still hasn't left Ryan Blaney, but if there is one track it could it would be Pocono. Blaney won here with the Wood Brothers in 2017 and started on pole for this race last year. William Byron then slots in as a way to take advantage of Hendrick Motorsports' resurgence and his pole on Saturday proves he has the speed to win. Some point to this team as having the stable of fastest cars, Byron just needs to convert that potential into results. He led 10 laps last fall to finish sixth and has three top-10 finishes in the last five races coming into this weekend. Another former Pocono winner on a hot streak is Chris Buescher, who has back-to-back top-10s coming into this week's race. Bubba Wallace finishes off this option having found a little something All-Star weekend, including a new sponsor. He was 25th in Charlotte and is slowly making his way back inside the top 20.
Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)
This week's higher-risk lineup is filled drivers on the cusp of 2019 success. Kevin Harvick hasn't won yet this season, but has been consistently grabbing top-fives and top-10s. With a little luck he will be in Victory Lane soon. He led 89 laps in this race last season and 30 in the fall and should give fantasy owners positive finish differential points, too. Fantasy owners looking to replace Harvick with Kyle Busch may want to swap out Paul Menard for Bubba Wallace. Kyle Larson won the All-Star Race and now just needs a win that will put him in the playoffs. He crashed in Charlotte but was runner up here last season. With three top-10s from four Pocono starts Erik Jones is another option worth taking. To make it even better, he also led laps in each of those top-10 finishes. Jimmie Johnson has been clawing his way back inside the top 10 each week and is a three-time Pocono winner that finished eighth here last season. Things have also started to gel for Paul Menard. He has been climbing the standings and has begun adding top-10 finishes to his top-15 trend from earlier in the season. Daniel Hemric is the biggest question in this option. We know Richard Childress Racing has found speed but now Hemric needs to finish races. He had trouble again last week in Charlotte, but one smooth race without an incident could give him his second top-15 of the year.