NASCAR DFS:  HighPoint.com 400

NASCAR DFS: HighPoint.com 400

This article is part of our NASCAR DFS series.

HighPoint.com 400

Location: Long Pond, Pa.
Course: Pocono Raceway
Format: 2.5-mile tri-oval
Laps: 160

NASCAR HighPoint.com 400 Race Preview

The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Pocono Raceway this week for another race on a track that appears just once on the calendar. Last year's race at the triangle-shaped speedway was notable in that Chase Elliott was declared the winner after leading zero laps. The call came after the Joe Gibbs Racing cars of Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch were disqualified. It was a rare move by NASCAR after the offending cars were found to have added extra material to the front of the cars that were deemed to offer an aerodynamic advantage. The team will be out for redemption this time, though. This will be the second season where Pocono's stop on the schedule is a one-time affair after the track hosted two races each season prior. The HIghPoint.com 400 will be the 90th time the series has raced at the track, and it is one of just six races remaining in the regular season. Five playoff positions remain available to drivers on points alone, and positions 15 through 17th, straddling the playoff cutline, are separated by just two points. Everything is left to play for as the regular-season championship and the remaining playoff spots are still in play.

Key Stats at Pocono Raceway

  • Number of races: 89
  • Winners from pole: 16
  • Winners from top-5 starters: 50
  • Winners from top-10 starters: 62
  • Winners from 21st or lower starters: 7
  • Fastest race: 145.384 mph

Previous 10 Pocono Winners

2022 - Chase Elliott
2021 II - Kyle Busch
2021 I - Alex Bowman
2020 II - Denny Hamlin
2020 I - Kevin Harvick
2019 fall - Denny Hamlin
2019 spring - Kyle Busch
2018 fall - Kyle Busch
2018 spring - Martin Truex Jr.
2017 fall - Kyle Busch

Pocono Raceway is a long, triangle-shaped, oval with three distinctly different corners. The long straights and unique turns demand teams find a compromise setup that enables their car to get out of the varies corners as fast as possible to maximize speed down the long straights. Those straights require horsepower and encourage drafting. Teams will aim to set their cars up to carry maximum speed through the middle of the turn and allowing their drivers to get back on the gas as early as possible, hoping to make passes at the entry to the following corner. Doing so maximizes speed at the end of the long straights where drivers can out brake cars ahead or roll through the corner more quickly than their competition. The long circuit can also produce fuel-mileage contests. The 2.5-mile lap means cars can drive to pit road for service and not lose a lap. Sometimes doing so off sequence will improve track position and allow drivers to gain time in clean air without traffic. Track position can also be a big factor, and it is important to be up front and get good restarts with the long run down the front straight to turn 1. The top finishers in this race typically start inside the top 10, and fantasy players should pay close attention to practice and qualifying times this week.

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NASCAR Projections

DraftKings Value Picks for the HighPoint.com 400 (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values  

Martin Truex Jr. - $10,700
Denny Hamlin - $10,600
Kyle Busch - $10,500
Kyle Larson - $10,300

DraftKings Tier 2 Values  

Ross Chastain - $10,000
Ryan Blaney - $9,800
Chase Elliott - $9,600
Christopher Bell - $9,400

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Kevin Harvick - $9,000
Joey Logano - $8,800
Brad Keselowski - $8,300
Ty Gibbs - $8,100

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Alex Bowman - $7,900
AJ Allmendinger - $7,300
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $6,200
Michael McDowell - $6,000

NASCAR DFS Picks for the HighPoint.com 400

Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Kyle Busch - $10,500
Kyle Larson - $10,300
Kevin Harvick - $9,000
Ty Gibbs - $8,100
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $6,200
Austin Cindric - $5,900

Motivation for a top finish should not be a concern about Kyle Busch (DK $10,500, FD $12,000) at Pocono. The Richard Childress Racing driver will be focused on getting past last week's New Hampshire problems as quickly as possible. The extra track time he will get by doing double duty in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series should also help him replicate the speed he had in last year's race. Kyle Larson (DK $10,300, FD $13,000) should also be a top contender this week. He and his Hendrick Motorsports teammates should be on more equal footing with the Joe Gibbs Racing cars this week, and Larson brings four straight Pocono top-10 finishes into this weekend's race. He also led 18 laps in this race last season. Another confident selection for this track is Kevin Harvick (DK $9,000, FD $9,000). The veteran won at Pocono in 2020 and has only missed finishing in the top 10 at the track twice in the last 13 tries. 

Ty Gibbs (DK $8,100, FD $7,200) lost ground in the playoff fight the past two races, but the speed of the JGR cars through that period has been impressive. The team was very strong at this track last season before Hamlin and Busch were disqualified, too. Gibbs should have the equipment to race in the top five this week, which he will need in order to work his way back into the playoff positions. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (DK $6,200, FD $5,500) doesn't have to worry about making the playoffs, but he does need a boost to have a chance at advancing. He has two top-15 finishes and three top-20 finishes in the last five races. Continuing to land top-15 results should be his goal in the final races of the regular season. He finished 18th or better in four of his last five Pocono starts. A high-horsepower track could suit the Team Penske cars and Austin Cindric (DK $5,900, FD $4,500). He finished 12th at Atlanta and is a former Xfinity Series victor at Pocono.

Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Denny Hamlin - $10,600
Chase Elliott - $9,600
Joey Logano - $8,800
Chris Buescher - $7,500
AJ Allmendinger - $7,300
Michael McDowell - $6,000

After being stripped of last year's Pocono victory, Denny Hamlin (DK $10,600, FD $13,500) will be aiming to get it back. He only has one win so far this season, but has been quite competitive multiple weekends. Pocono has been a good track for him, too. He has six career wins, including two from the last six races there. It would have been three had last year's not been a disqualification. Chase Elliott (DK $9,600, FD $10,500) was the beneficiary of Hamlin's disqualification last season. He started third but didn't lead any laps, and that is his only victory at this track. He needs a win in one of these last six regular-season races in order to qualify for the playoffs, and finished in the top five in three of the last five races leading up to this week. Hendrick Motorsports has had some of the most powerful cars all season, and this track is a place where Elliott should be able to make the most of that speed. Another team with powerful cars is Team Penske. Joey Logano (DK $8,800, FD $8,500) used that to his advantage to win at Atlanta early in the season, and he seems to be improving ahead of the playoffs, too. He finished second a week ago at New Hampshire and has four top-10 finishes in the seven races since the All-Star Race. His only Pocono victory came back in 2012. Like Logano, Chris Buescher (DK $7,500, FD $6,800) is another Ford driver that could outperform expectations this week. He said earlier in the week that he believes his RFK Racing team has the potential to get into Victory Lane. He is a former Pocono winner himself and started on pole at the track last season, too. 

AJ Allmendinger (DK $7,300, FD $6,500) has moved himself into the playoff conversation with a consistent string of top-15 finishes. He is 20 points behind 16th position in the standings and has three top-10s from the last five races. Allmendinger finished 14th at Pocono last season, which would be another good result to help his playoff chances if he can replicate that this time. One of Allmendinger's rivals in that championship battle is Michael McDowell (DK $6,000, FD $5,200). Four top-10 finishes from the last six races have put him into the top 16 drivers in points, and a playoff spot is within reach. McDowell has recently been getting better at Pocono, too. His best finish at the track came last season. That sixth-place finish was his second top-10 at the track from the last five tries.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. C.J. Radune plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: cjradune, RaceDayScore: cjradune.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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