This week, NASCAR Cup Series drivers will look for the right angle (or rather, left angle) as they tackle The Tricky Triangle, Pocono Raceway. Let’s get your daily fantasy NASCAR DraftKings lineups set for the HighPoint.com 400, airing Sunday, July 23 at 2:30 p.m. ET on USA Network.
Pocono is one of the more unique racetracks on the schedule, as its three turns all have different lengths and banking. Likewise, its straightaways have three distinctive lengths as well, with the smallest in between turns 2 and 3 and the longest between turns 3 and 1.
The three turns are modeled after other racetracks: Trenton Speedway (turn 1), Indianapolis Motor Speedway (turn 2 or the tunnel turn), and the Milwaukee Mile (turn 3).
Since it’s so unique, Pocono presents quite a challenge for drivers. It’s not easy adjusting the car for three turns, so handling might be a problem. Another possible issue is brake failures; there have been some pretty big impacts of cars slamming the wall when their brakes give out. Should be interesting to see what happens this weekend, and how competitors manage their braking.
As far as the historical aspect for DraftKings, most of the winners since 2017 have driven Toyotas. However, a Ford driver won two races (once in 2017 and the other in 2020), while Chevrolet has won two of the last three Cup events at Pocono. Last year, Chase Elliott won after Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch were disqualified for failing post-race inspection. (Note: DraftKings doesn’t count post-race DQs in its scoring, so Hamlin and Busch were scored where they finished on the track).
As always, keep an eye on practice and qualifying Saturday to see which drivers have some pace off the hauler. Practice starts at 2:35 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports app before moving to USA Network at 3 p.m. ET.
Here’s a quick look at the rules for DraftKings:
The winner on the racetrack tallies 45 points, while second place gets 42, third 41 and so on. Tenth scores 34, while 11th gets 32 and decreases by one from there through 20th. This pattern repeats from 21st through 30th and again from 31st through 40th.
Additionally, drivers can earn or lose a point depending on where they started the race. For example, if Elliott started seventh and won, he would gain six points in addition to his finishing position points, totaling 51 fantasy points.
Drivers also can earn 0.45 points for each fastest lap and 0.25 for each lap they lead.
Here are the drivers you should consider for Pocono.
DraftKings Picks: Top Tier
Denny Hamlin ($10,600)
Career at Pocono: 33 starts, 6 wins, 14 top fives, 21 top 10s
Average finish at Pocono: 11.8
As noted above, Hamlin crossed the finish line first at the 2.5-mile triangle in 2022 but was disqualified after the race, putting him next to last. It would’ve been his third win in the last six Pocono races, as he earned one apiece in 2019 and 2020. He also led 21 laps last year, 49 in 2020 and 32 in 2019.
So far this year, the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing driver has only earned eight top 10s in 20 events. However, Hamlin does have a victory at Kansas Speedway where he was out front for 34 laps. He also led over 30 laps in four other races — at two short tracks, a road course and at Nashville Superspeedway.
Hamlin’s skills at The Tricky Triangle should make him a hefty favorite this week on DraftKings.
Kyle Busch ($10,500)
Career at Pocono: 35 starts, 4 wins, 11 top fives, 18 top 10s
Average finish at Pocono: 15.7
Busch has been one of the more consistent drivers at Pocono, with just two results outside the top 10 in the last 12 races. He also earned all four of his wins in that span, with victories in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021. Additionally, Busch has led at least one lap in all but one event in that period, showing off his dominance there the last several years.
But – and this is a pretty big one – those wins were all with JGR. Busch is with Richard Childress Racing, piloting the team’s No. 8 Chevrolet. While we don’t know exactly how he’ll perform at The Tricky Triangle this weekend, we can look back at what he’s done so far this season.
Busch has three wins in 2023, earning his first one early on at Auto Club Speedway after leading 27 laps. He then claimed his next two at Talladega Superspeedway and World Wide Technology Raceway, leading 121 laps in the latter. He’s also performed well recently, grabbing seven straight top 10s before last week’s struggles at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Hopefully last week was just an anomaly for the Las Vegas native.
Kyle Larson ($10,300)
Career at Pocono: 15 starts, 0 wins, 5 top fives, 9 top 10s
Average finish at Pocono: 11.0
Speaking of consistency, Kyle Larson has four straight top-10 finishes at Pocono (excluding 2020), with a runner-up and two fifth-place results in that span. He nearly won there two years ago, but he suffered a flat tire on the last lap and fell back to ninth place. Still, the Californian led 15 laps in that event and 18 last year, so if he’s able to get out front, he should be a contender this weekend.
This season, the No. 5 of Hendrick Motorsports has either finished up front or has crashed out. Larson does two victories, both at short tracks; he’s also earned top fives at a variety of courses. One of those top fives was a second place at Kansas in May, leading 85 laps in the effort.
And things are looking up for him, as he has just one crash in the last six races. Look for the 2021 Cup champion to continue that upward trend this weekend at Pocono.
Kevin Harvick ($9,000)
Career at Pocono: 43 starts, 1 win, 15 top fives, 22 top 10s
Average finish at Pocono: 12.1
Kevin Harvick isn’t necessarily the first driver you think of when it comes to Pocono, but he hasn’t been a slouch there. Since August 2014, Harvick has only three results outside the top 10; he’s also earned 10 top fives in that time. Unfortunately, he finished 27th last year after a late crash while running inside the top 10.
Also not promising is the fact that the No. 4 has finished 24th or worse in three of the last four races. Still, Harvick rebounded to a fourth-place finish last week at Loudon. He also led a few laps at Charlotte Motor Speedway; earlier this season he finished fifth at Fontana and Phoenix Raceway, while he placed ninth at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Harvick has a knack for figuring things out at tracks where he’s really good at, so he should be able to get a good finish this week.
Brad Keselowski ($8,300)
Career at Pocono: 25 starts, 1 win, 11 top fives, 15 top 10s
Average finish at Pocono: 10.7
Brad Keselowski‘s lone win at The Tricky Triangle came all the way back in 2011, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t had good results there. In fact, most of his finishes since August 2015 have been in the top 10 or 15. In 2022, Keselowski drove his No. 6 of RFK Racing to a 14th after starting 26th.
This year, the Michigan native has tallied four top fives and eight top 10s so far. Granted, most of those were at the smaller racetracks, but Keselowski did have a seventh-place finish early in the season at Fontana.
Like Harvick, Keselowski is a veteran who could just advance his position on the track, even if he doesn’t quite have the best pace.
Erik Jones ($6,700)
Career at Pocono: 11 starts, 0 wins, 5 top fives, 7 top 10s
Average finish at Pocono: 13.9
Erik Jones is another driver who gained spots on the racetrack last year at Pocono. He drove through the field from 34th place all the way to ninth, which isn’t easy. He also led 11 laps in that race. Also, when he was still with JGR, he advanced from 38th to third in 2020.
At another larger track of Michigan International Speedway last year, the No. 43 Legacy Motor Club pilot finished in eighth place. He started up front then, too, so the speed was there last season.
This season, Jones has only three top 10s as the organization has struggled to find pace at most tracks. Still, he has four straight results of 16th or better since Nashville, so the team must have found something. I don’t mind taking a chance on Jones this weekend on DraftKings.
Michael McDowell ($6,000)
Career at Pocono: 20 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 2 top 10s
Average finish at Pocono: 26.3
Michael McDowell has had some fairly good finishes at Pocono the last several races. Last year, he gained 19 positions en route to a sixth-place finish, while in 2020 he had a similar performance in the first race that weekend. In 2021, he finished in the teens in both events.
In 2023, the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports driver mostly struggled over the first few months of the season. However, McDowell placed ninth at Gateway, seventh at Sonoma Raceway and the Chicago street course and fourth at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Could this be the momentum he needs to stay in playoff contention? Pocono is a different beast, but McDowell could just do what he did last year there.
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.
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