It might be a little tricky Sunday (July 24) for NASCAR Cup Series drivers to navigate around Pocono Raceway. Let’s hope your DraftKings contests will be a treat after the 2022 M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 (3 p.m. ET on USA Network).
Despite what some people are suggesting on Twitter, Pocono has just three turns. It’s called the Tricky Triangle, not the Tricky Pentagon. But I digress.
It’s definitely a unique course, as its turns are modeled after three different racetracks, one of which the Cup Series currently competes at (Indianapolis Motor Speedway). Each one is shaped differently with different amounts of banking. It’s also very long, sitting at 2.5 miles. Since it’s so unique from any other racetrack, it’s hard to really prepare for it in daily fantasy, especially since the Next Gen cars are taking it on for the first time.
But certain trends could still come into play for DraftKings. Momentum and consistency from the past few races this year can indicate which drivers are likely to finish up front Sunday. Also, those who have performed well at Pocono in the last few years could carry that talent through to this weekend.
Practice and qualifying should help you choose the right drivers as well. Just remember there wasn’t much time for drivers to get on track, so you won’t have as clear of a picture from their speeds as usual (it takes almost a minute to run a full lap at this facility).
Before I share which drivers I’m thinking about placing in my lineup for the Tricky Triangle, here are the results from last week’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway:
Well, on the plus side, this lineup had the winner (Christopher Bell) and fifth-place finisher (Kevin Harvick). That’s about the only good outcomes, though, as Aric Almirola had a mechanical issue after qualifying in the top 10. Also, Kyle Busch had two solo spins, and though he recovered to finish 12th, his other Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. was the one to play on DraftKings. Truex scored 102.05 fantasy points after leading 172 laps and coming home fourth.
As far as DraftKings scoring, the rules are the same as last season: 0.45 points for each fastest lap and 0.25 for each lap led. Additionally, drivers can earn a point for each position they gain on the track (relative to where they start). They can also lose a point for each position lost, so keep this fact in mind if you decide to play the polesitter.
Here are the DraftKings rules for the road this season.
Now, on to my DraftKings picks.
Note: The following drivers are part of a sample NASCAR DraftKings lineup; you can use this info to make your own.
DraftKings Picks for 2022 M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono
Kyle Busch ($10,600)
Career at Pocono: 34 starts, 4 wins, 11 top fives, 18 top 10s
Average finish at Pocono: 15.1
I know I played Busch last week when he was the highest-priced driver on the slate, but his statistics at Pocono are hard to ignore (sound familiar?). Last year, he placed second and first in races one and two of the doubleheader, respectively, leading 30 laps in each. The Pocono win came because he saved just enough fuel to last to the end, overcoming a gear issue.
Pocono has actually proved to be one of Busch’s best racetracks, especially in the past 10 races. He has just one finish outside the top nine in this span, a stretch which includes four victories. And as a bonus, the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing driver has led 30 or more laps in seven of the past 10 races on the Tricky Triangle.
Unfortunately, Busch doesn’t have momentum on his side, as he’s finished 12th or worse in each of the last five races this year. However, he was second at both World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway and Charlotte Motor Speedway prior to that. He also scored a third place at Kansas Speedway in May, showcasing the No. 18 Toyota still has the speed to win. And though his result at Nashville Superspeedway last month wasn’t what he wanted, Busch still recorded 67.1 fantasy points on DraftKings.
What better time or place for Busch to earn his second win of the year than at his sponsor’s entitlement race?
Kevin Harvick ($9,000)
Career at Pocono: 42 starts, 1 win, 15 top fives, 22 top 10s
Average finish at Pocono: 11.7
It’s really not a repeat of last week, I promise! But like Busch above, Harvick has performed extremely well at Pocono, albeit with less victories. He’s only ended outside the top 10 twice in the last 15 events, recording five runners up and four fourth-place finishes. In 2020, the No. 4 Ford crossed the line first in race one and second the following day. Then, last year, he was eighth and fourth during the doubleheader weekend.
Although Harvick is still without a win in 2022, he was fairly quick last week at New Hampshire, posting 34 fastest laps en route to fifth place. Additionally, he’s earned three top fives and five top 10s in the past seven races. And at another large racetrack, Auto Club Speedway, Harvick drove from 32nd to seventh (though that was back in February).
He might not get back to where he was in 2020, but Harvick should still continue his top-10 run at the Tricky Triangle this weekend.
Tyler Reddick ($8,300)
Career at Pocono: 4 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10
Average finish at Pocono: 21.3
It was really tough to fit drivers in this lineup that weren’t at the bottom of the barrel. But since it’s often said Pocono races like a road course due to its layout, why not play Road America winner Tyler Reddick? I mean, yes, that was his only top 10 in the past six Cup events, but he was sixth in the Coca-Cola 600 before that.
Also, at Pocono last year, Reddick finished 11th and ninth in the first and second races, respectively, so a good result is not out of the equation. And earlier this year at Auto Club, he was out front for 90 circuits before a flat tire and William Byron messed up his car.
My main hesitation with Reddick is that he tends to qualify well, which lowers the amount of bonus points he can earn (especially if he doesn’t lead any laps). Plus, Reddick announced he’s moving to Toyota and 23XI Racing in 2024, so it’s not clear how he will perform the rest of the year.
Daniel Suarez ($7,900)
Career at Pocono: 10 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 3 top 10s
Average finish at Pocono: 16.2
I actually wanted Suarez’s Trackhouse Racing Team cohort, Ross Chastain, in my lineup as he’s more consistent than Suarez. He’s also much more expensive, though, so Suarez it is. It could work out well; after all, Suarez has earned three straight top 10s for the first time all year. Plus, he snagged his first Cup Series victory at Sonoma Raceway last month, proving his chops on a road course layout. He posted 51 fastest laps and led 36 in the Coca-Cola 600, though he did crash out. Lastly, at Auto Club, Suarez drove from 15th to fourth place.
Although his results at the Tricky Triangle haven’t been as good, Suarez did earn a 13th and 15th in his first year with Trackhouse. Additionally, he was seventh in July 2017, second the following year after leading 29 laps, and eighth in June 2019.
Can Suarez keep up his top-10 streak and score well on DraftKings? If you think so, place him in your lineup.
Dark Horse Performers
Austin Cindric ($7,200)
Xfinity Series career at Pocono: 4 starts, 1 win, 2 top fives, 3 top 10s
Xfinity average finish at Pocono: 10.3
Sunday will mark Cindric’s first time on the three-turn course in the Cup Series, but he’s had some experience in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. In 2021, he led 26 laps on the way to the win, while in 2018 he placed fourth and 2019 he was seventh.
The Daytona 500 winner has also had some good results as of late, which has translated to some higher fantasy scores on DraftKings. Last week, Cindric gained 15 positions and finished 13th. Though it ended his four-race top 10 streak, he still scored 45.9 DraftKings points. Just last month, he was seventh at Nashville after starting 24th, producing a strong position differential of +17.
Look for Cindric to keep up the pace and finish well once again no matter where he qualifies.
Chris Buescher ($6,800)
Career at Pocono: 12 starts, 1 win, 1 top five, 2 top 10s
Average finish at Pocono: 20.2
Chris Buescher is one of those drivers who has won by chance and strategy. In the August 2016 Pocono race, he earned the win when fog rolled in and ended the race early. That was several years ago and Buescher hasn’t earned many top 10s since; however, he has several results in the teens. For example, in June 2017, 2018 and 2019, he advanced 10 spots in each race to finish 19th, 17th and 14th, respectively. In July 2019, he started 33rd and ended 16th; the following year, he went from 24th to 10th in the first event that weekend.
Although he hasn’t finished in the top 10 very much this season with RFK Racing, two top 10s came in the past five races and both were at road courses. If the Next Gen car runs at Pocono like it does on road courses, it could benefit Buescher tremendously.
About the author
Joy joined Frontstretch in 2019 as a NASCAR DraftKings writer, expanding to news and iRacing coverage in 2020. She's currently an assistant editor while continuing to write daily fantasy and news articles. A California native, Joy was raised as a motorsports fan and started watching NASCAR extensively in 2001. She earned her B.A. degree in Liberal Studies at California State University Bakersfield in 2010.