Fantasy NASCAR: There’s A Party In The Poconos, And You’re Invited
ADAM ANSELL’S TOP 25 FOR POCONO
1) Denny Hamlin: Hamlin started from the pole and ran in the Top 10 all afternoon before some bad luck struck, causing him to finish 34th at Dover. In 14 starts at Pocono Raceway, Hamlin has four wins (2006 sweep, 2009-10), eight Top 5s, nine Top 10s and two poles with an Average Finish of 10.7. He’s led at least three laps in each of his last seven starts. Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, Hamlin leads all competitors in Driver Rating (115.1), Average Running Position (9.1), Laps Led (663), Fastest Laps Run (430) and Average Green Flag Speed (160.936 mph) at Pocono. He posted back-to-back Top 5s prior to last week’s late bad luck. This is one of Hamlin’s best tracks and he’s easily the top play in all formats this weekend.
2) Kasey Kahne: A late wreck ruined a solid race at Dover for Kahne, as he finished 23rd despite an ARP of 8.3. In 18 starts at Pocono, Kahne has one win (2008), four Top 5s, six Top 10s and two poles with an Average Finish of 16.8. He led one lap in the August 2012 race. Kahne ranks ninth in DR (91.4) and in ARP (13.8). He finished second at Pocono in the August 2012 race and will come at a nice value across all formats.
3) Jeff Gordon: Gordon logged his second Top 5 (third at Dover) in his last three Cup starts last weekend. In 40 PR starts, Gordon has six wins (1996, 1997), 18 Top 5s, 28 Top 10s and two poles with an Average Finish of 10.2. He’s led at least eight laps in three of his last five starts. Gordon ranks fourth in DR (100.9) and third in ARP (10.3). He’s won two of the last four races at Pocono and will be a high-risk-high-reward value play in Tiered/Grouping formats.
4) Kurt Busch: Busch was in contention late at Dover but ultimately finished 12th. In 23 Pocono starts, Busch has two wins (2005, 2007), nine Top 5s, 12 Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish of 16.1. He’s led at least two laps in seven of his last eight starts. Busch ranks third in DR (103.7) and fourth in ARP (11.0) at Pocono. He’s led laps in each of his last five Cup starts and this week returns to the track he posted second and third-place finishes in 2011 as a member of Penske Racing. He is a must-start in Tiered/Grouping formats.
5) Jimmie Johnson: Johnson was hit with a black flag for an early start at Dover, dropping him from what appeared to be an easy win to a 17th-place finish. In 22 starts at PR, Johnson has two wins (2004 sweep), nine Top 5s, 15 Top 10s and two poles with an Average Finish of 9.0. He led 44 laps in the August 2012 event. Johnson ranks second in DR (107.6) and in ARP (9.8). He leads all drivers in Laps in the Top 15 (2,376). While Pocono isn’t one of his best tracks, Johnson has an Average Finish of 7.2 in his last five starts. He should be plugged into all lineups, but isn’t a must-start in Tiered/Grouping formats.
6) Carl Edwards: Edwards logged his fifth-straight Top 15, finishing 14th at Dover. In 16 starts at Pocono, Edwards has two wins (2005, 2007), five Top 5s and eight Top 10s with an Average Finish of 13.2. Edwards led 53 laps in his 2008 victory at the site. Edwards ranks sixth in DR (97.4) and 13th in ARP (14.9). He has two Top 10s in his last three PR starts and is a safe bet to finish inside the Top 10 once again.
7) Brad Keselowski: After finishing 32nd-or-worse in three of his last four starts, Keselowski posted a Top 5 finish at Dover upon the return of his crew chief from suspension. In six starts at PR, Keselowski has one win and two Top 5s with an Average Finish of 14.5. He’s led at least eight laps in two of his last three starts. Keselowski ranks 20th in DR (79.0) and 21st in ARP (18.7). With Paul Wolfe back in the fold, the defending champ is once again a weekly threat across all formats.
8) Tony Stewart: Stewart won his first race of 2013 at Dover, passing the leader with three laps to go. In 28 Pocono starts, Stewart has two wins (2003, 2009), 11 Top 5s, 20 Top 10s and two poles with an Average Finish of 11.3. He’s led at least one lap in two of his last five starts. Stewart ranks fifth in DR (98.6) and sixth in ARP (12.1). Not only was Dover his first win of 2013, it was his first Top 5. But you have to start somewhere and the win was a huge slump-buster. Stewart will continue to be a quality value in all formats.
9) Joey Logano: Logano finished seventh at Dover, running 226 of 400 Laps in the Top 15. In eight starts at Pocono, Logano has one win and two poles with an Average Finish of 17.4. He’s led at least 44 laps in two of his last three starts. Logano ranks 17th in DR (84.5) and 15th in ARP (15.5). He has two Top 5s and three Top 10s in his last five Cup starts and is a bargain across all formats in terms of price and value.
10) Matt Kenseth: Kenseth’s car woes continued at Dover, as he went from the front of the pack to a 40th-place finish with a blown engine. In 26 PR starts, Kenseth has three Top 5s and 10 Top 10s with an Average Finish of 14.3. He’s led at least four laps in each of his last two starts. Kenseth ranks 10th in DR (90.7) and eighth in ARP (13.1). He’s led at least 29 laps in each of his last six Cup starts, but the volatile Toyota equipment is becoming an issue. Fantasy owners need to consider Kenseth high-risk-high-reward until Toyota gets its act together.
11) Kyle Busch: Four Top 5s, five Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish of 19.2 in 16 Pocono starts. 84.6 DR.
12) Mark Martin: Twenty Top 5s, 34 Top 10s and three poles with an Average Finish of 11.1 in 52 PR starts. 94.4 DR.
13) Paul Menard: Two Top 10s with an Average Finish of 20.8 in 12 starts at PR. 64.9 DR.
14) Kevin Harvick: Five Top 5s and eight Top 10s with an Average Finish of 14.1 in 24 Pocono starts. 89.6 DR.
15) Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Five Top 5s, nine Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish of 17.3 in 26 PR starts.86.1 DR.
16) Clint Bowyer: 79.9 DR.
17) Martin Truex Jr.: 82.3.
18) Greg Biffle: 87.1.
19) Ryan Newman: 95.4.
20) Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: DR N/A.
21) Aric Almirola
22) Jamie McMurray
23) Jeff Burton
24) Bobby Labonte
25) Marcos Ambrose
Juan Pablo Montoya: Two Top 5s and three Top 10s in his last five Cup starts. Finished second last week at Dover. Led at least three laps in four of his last five Pocono starts. Finished second in the August 2009 race at PR.
A.J. Allmendinger: Average Finish of 13.5 in four 2013 Cup starts. Hasn’t finished worse than 16th in any race this season. Finished 10th in the June 2010 event at Pocono.
2013 NASCAR.com Fantasy Live Lineup for Pocono (Salary Cap)
Jimmie Johnson $27.75
Jeff Gordon $24.25
Carl Edwards $24.25
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. $13.25
A.J. Allmendinger $ 9.25