Pocono Raceway, AKA the Tricky Triangle, is the venue for today’s M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 (3:00 p.m. ET, USA).
The 160-lap race should feature plenty of strategy, as drivers within about 10 seconds of the leader are able to pit just prior to the stage caution and remain on the lead lap.
That means there will be drivers who employ this strategy, as well as drivers who stay out at the end of the stages. Other strategies may arise as well, which will shake up the running order throughout the race.
That’s important, because today’s race is only 160 laps, limiting the number of dominator points drivers can get from fastest laps and laps led.
That leads us to a strategy where we want to mostly ignore dominator points and simply find the drivers who are best suited to finishing as far forward as they can, relative to their salary.
It also means there may be slightly more variance than a more predictable track like last weekend at New Hampshire, yielding more value in finding pivot plays in tournaments.
Before we jump into my picks, don’t forget all my NASCAR projections can be found in the NASCAR Models on FantasyLabs, complete with floor, ceiling, median, and ownership projections.
Let’s not skip the best part — my Perfect% metric — a metric that tells you how often certain racers appear in the optimal lineup when running 10,000 race simulations.
With that said, let’s dive into today’s NASCAR DFS picks and strategy for the M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono Raceway.
Pocono DraftKings DFS Cash Game Picks
Erik Jones ($7600): Obvious chalk is obvious. We should definitely play the driver who is starting 34th in a 36-car field but posted top-six speed in practice. Jones is only starting so far back thanks to brushing the wall in qualifying.
Additionally, Jones has eight top-eight finishes in his nine 2.5-mile, flat-track finishes prior to joining Petty GMS. This is one of his best tracks, and he was fast. He’ll rack up massive points barring a major incident.
Ross Chastain ($10,000): Like Jones, Chastain had a poor qualifying. In this case, it wasn’t because of contact with the wall, but because of a slightly damaged diffuser after a practice spin where he didn’t even make contact with the wall.
However, Chastain posted the fastest five-lap average in practice. That is enough to get me to start him comfortably from the 21st spot. He should finish inside the top six if the race is solely based off of speed.
Pocono DraftKings DFS Tournament Picks
Kyle Larson ($9800): While the top three starting drivers should garner plenty of attention, each is more expensive and starts ahead of Larson, meaning just a wee bit less place-differential potential is available to them.
However, my model has all four pegged roughly the same, meaning Larson grades out best in points per dollar. Additionally, his slight salary relief allows you to pull in slightly more expensive drivers in your other five roster slots.
He also is expected to be the lowest owned of the front four starters, per my model. Even if he’s not, he certainly won’t be the highest played among the quartet.
Larson had two strong races at Pocono last year, and he improved from his first practice run to his second practice run. Continued improvement will see him contending for the win at reduced ownership.
Alex Bowman and William Byron: The two Hendrick drivers start 17th and 18th respectively, but they don’t figure to be too highly rostered in tournaments.
That’s in part because they didn’t post earth-shattering times in practice, but also because Kevin Harvick, who is in thier price range, starts several spots behind them. Harvick is coming off a strong race at New Hampshire, which should help boost his ownership.
However, Harvick is in the slower Ford contingent this weekend. No Ford driver posted a top-14 time in practice. Byron and Bowman make great pivots off of a potentially chalky Harvick this weekend.