NASCAR DFS: M&M's Fan Appreciation 400

NASCAR DFS: M&M's Fan Appreciation 400

This article is part of our NASCAR DFS series.

M&M's Fan Appreciation 400

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

NASCAR M&M's Fan Appreciation 400 Race Preview

The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series playoff battle got even tighter a week ago when Christopher Bell became the 14th different winner this season. Six races remain to settle the 16-driver field that will fight for the season championship with only two spots remaining undecided. The Series heads to Pocono Raceway this weekend for the first of those six races in the track's only appearance on the 2022 calendar. The track has traditionally hosted two races each season, and it held double-header weekends the last two years. The long 2.5-mile oval has hosted 88 series races with 39 different winners. Alex Bowman and Kyle Busch won the two races there last season and both have wins under their belts already in 2022. All eyes will be on the playoff battle this week with some major competitors still winless. Pressure to visit Victory Lane is growing on them each week, and the trends would suggest that this could be the first year the playoffs leave no room for drivers who fail to win during the regular season.

Key Stats at Pocono Raceway

  • Number of races: 88
  • Winners from pole: 16
  • Winners from top-5 starters: 49
  • Winners from top-10 starters: 61
  • Winners from 21st or lower starters: 7
  • Fastest race: 145.384 mph

Previous 10 Pocono Winners

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
2017 spring - Ryan Blaney

Pocono Raceway is a track the NASCAR Cup Series teams know well. It is a long, triangle-shaped, oval with three distinctly different corners. Those challenging turns are linked by long straights that encourage drafting and demand the most out of engines. 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. 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 to make passes. 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. It is important to be up front and get good restarts with the long run down the front straight to turn 1. Winners typically start in the top 10, too.

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DraftKings Value Picks for the M&M's Fan Appreciation 400 (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values  

Kyle Busch - $10,600
Denny Hamlin - $10,400
Martin Truex Jr. - $10,300
Chase Elliott - $10,100

DraftKings Tier 2 Values  

Kyle Larson - $9,800
Joey Logano - $9,600
Ryan Blaney - $9,400
William Byron - $9,200

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Christopher Bell - $8,900
Kurt Busch - $8,500
Tyler Reddick - $8,300
Alex Bowman - $8,100

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Daniel Suarez - $7,900
Erik Jones - $7,600
Chris Buescher - $6,800
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $6,600

NASCAR DFS Picks for the M&M's Fan Appreciation 400

Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Martin Truex Jr. - $10,300
Kyle Larson - $9,800
Kurt Busch - $8,500
Erik Jones - $7,600
Austin Dillon - $7,000
Chris Buescher - $6,800

Bell's victory last week leaves Martin Truex Jr. (DK $10,300, FD $12,000) as the only Joe Gibbs Racing driver still winless in 2022 and on the playoff bubble. The best way for him to ensure he can race for this year's championship is by winning. As a two-time Pocono winner, he will be confident he can seal the deal this week. Kyle Larson (DK $9,800, FD $13,000) has never won at Pocono, but he has finished second twice. Adding him to the lineup gives some Hendrick Motorsports representation, which is an important option to take considering the team's strength in last year's races. Another top Pocono driver is Kurt Busch (DK $8,500, FD $9,000). He won three times at the track and led 12 laps there last season. This season's new car might be the change Erik Jones (DK $7,600, FD $6,000) needs to get back to his early-career form at the track. He finished in the top-five in five of his first eight races at Pocono before missing the top 20 last season. Some strong races already this season make him a driver worth taking this week at what used to be one of his best tracks. Austin Dillon (DK $7,000, FD $5,800) made headlines last week at New Hampshire for the wrong reasons. He is one that is feeling the pressure to win since his teammate already has. It will be a surprise if he does it this week, but he regularly delivers top-15 finishes at this track. Chris Buescher (DK $6,800, FD $5,500) won his first series race at Pocono in 2016. The RFK Racing cars have also had competitive power this season, which makes this a week where both he and teammate Brad Keselowski are worthy selections.

Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Chase Elliott - $10,100
William Byron - $9,200
Christopher Bell - $8,900
Aric Almirola - $7,800
Brad Keselowski - $7,300
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $6,600

Chase Elliott (DK $10,100, FD $13,500) has never won at Pocono, but he has been the hottest driver in the garage recently. He has three fourth-place finishes at the track, leads the current point standings, and hasn't missed finishing in the top 10 since early June. Teammate William Byron (DK $9,200, FD $10,000) could also be a good selection for fantasy players anticipating another strong showing from Hendrick. Byron has five top-10s from eight Pocono starts and led 35 combined laps in last year's double-header, finishing third in the first race. Christopher Bell (DK $8,900, FD $9,500) said after last week's win that JGR's success comes in waves. Fantasy players who agree should draft him this week, too. His best Pocono finish was his first series start at the track in 2020 when he finished fourth. He led three laps in the second race there last season before hitting the wall and finishing 32nd. Aric Almirola's (DK $7,800, FD $7,800) Pocono finishes took a turn for the better when he joined Stewart Haas Racing. After no top-10s in his first 11 visits to the track he has had four in the last eight. He finished 16th in both races there last season and will be hoping a top-10 can help his playoff chances as the regular season winds down. Like teammate Buescher in the lower-risk lineup, Brad Keselowski (DK $7,300, FD $7,200) could be an excellent choice this week. The team's cars have had power to race at the front this year, and Pocono is a horsepower track. The former winner brings an impressive 11 Pocono top-fives and 16 top-10s from 24 career starts into this weekend's event. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (DK $6,600, FD $6,200) should also be a valuable option this week. He will be racing Saturday in the Xfinity Series, which will give him some extra track time as he focuses on Sunday. He was a top-15 car in last year's races, but failed to finish the second due to an engine failure.

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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