The NASCAR Cup Series kicks off its first planned doubleheader in the modern era with two races at Pocono Raceway, one each on Saturday and Sunday.
We’ll learn a lot from the Saturday race for Sunday, but heading into the opening leg of the doubleheader there will be no on-track activity prior to the green flag.
There are only 325 miles, or 130 laps in today’s race. I’ll talk about the implications of this unique event on NASCAR DFS strategy, then offer my best picks for the race.
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NASCAR at Pocono DraftKings DFS Strategy
With only 130 laps scheduled, there are only maximum of 97.5 dominator points available for the race. The actual number will be less than that, since caution laps do not count for fastest laps.
With so few dominator points available, it’s less imperative to mash a bunch of dominators into your lineup. Pocono is also a track where strategy frequently comes into play, shaking up the top of the leaderboard even more than most tracks. As a result, we’ll want to mainly focus on the combination of place differential and finishing position when we build our lineups.
The strategic element of the race also lends itself more randomness. Thus, contrarian plays have more value because the predictive element of the race is reduced. With that in mind, here are my favorite tournament plays for today’s race.
NASCAR at Pocono DraftKings DFS Picks
Kyle Busch ($9300) – The reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion was the top performer at Pocono in 2019 under similar rules. Yes, Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) and Busch in particular have struggled, but Pocono is a place where a driver can show off his talent with the three different and challenging corners that require more grip and hubris than raw horsepower.
Busch ranked in the top five in both average running position and average green flag speed in both 2019 races, yet is priced only seventh highest. He has dominator and winning potential at a palatable price.
Busch could end up a little chalky, so if you want a pivot might I suggest this next driver.
Denny Hamlin ($8800) – I would not play Hamlin and Busch together in the same lineup unless you are doing so in a very small percentage of a mass multi-entry portfolio. They have some negative correlation by taking away the few dominator points available from each other while both starting on the second row.
However, Hamlin is the discount Kyle Busch in this spot, and a solid pivot. Busch may have finished in the top five in all the important categories in 2019, but Hamlin finished inside the top six in all those categories, only slightly behind his JGR teammate.
Pocono is one of Hamlin’s best tracks. He has four career wins here, including two in his rookie season. Hamlin is not a cash game play, but a solid tournament pivot play off of Busch.
William Byron ($8400) -Byron had a top-11 running position in both Pocono races in 2019, but his resume goes even deeper than that. The two big flat tracks of Pocono and Indianapolis are conducive to his driving style.
He’s picked up two Pocono wins in his two races at the track in the XFINITY and Truck series, and has three finishes of ninth or better in the Cup Series. At Indianapolis, Byron finished fourth in 2019. He rolls off 16th, giving him plenty of place differential potential.
Erik Jones ($7100) – I’m writing up a third JGR driver in Jones, who will be a chalky play from the 19th starting position. Jones has finished in the top three in 50% of his Cup races at Pocono, and has only one finish worse than eighth at “The Tricky Triangle.”
I love Jones in cash games, but he’ll be so chalky in GPPs in a highly random race that you may want to pivot off of him and onto another driver in his price range.
Matt DiBenedetto ($7600) – DiBenedetto is my favorite Jones pivot, but I also don’t mind if you use Tyler Reddick in some lineups as a Jones pivot.
DiBenedetto had an average finish of 17.3 in the three races at 2.5-mile flat tracks in 2019. DiBenedetto has some DNFs at the big flat tracks, but that’s mainly because he was in underfunded teams.
When he does finish, he’s finished an average of 6.5 places better than his season-long points standings finish. He currently sits 15th in points and has the benefit of Penske power at a big track. Use him liberally in tournaments.