After spending a couple of weeks at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to one of its most unique stops on the schedule, Pocono Raceway. The massive, 2.5-mile track has earned the nickname “The Tricky Triangle” thanks in large part to its layout, but Pocono is also one of the tougher places for a driver to master because all three sets of corners have different configurations.
The difficult handling conditions make passing tough, and track position means everything. Restarts can be complete chaos down Pocono’s long, wide straightaways, and since drivers can usually pit under green without losing a lap, crew chiefs will employ a variety of strategies. From short pitting and hoping to catch a caution to flat out trying to stretch the final tank of gas, there are ways to win at Pocono even if you don’t have the fastest car.
Yes, all the strategy games can wreak havoc for fantasy owners. A fuel mileage finish can completely jumble up the running order, and drivers pitting right before the end of the stages can cause the best cars to miss out on stage points. Still, there is still a small group of drivers who just seem to have a feel for Pocono and have amassed incredible records here.
For example, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski both have seven Top 5s in the last 10 races here. The next-best total in that span is four Top 5 finishes. That’s a big gap. I recommend leaning on Harvick, Keselowski and the other Pocono masters this weekend because after these top options, you have a hard time finding many middle-tier drivers who have shown any sort of consistency at this place.
After struggling at Pocono early in his career, Busch has turned “The Tricky Triangle” into one of his best tracks. He has five straight Top 10s here, winning two of the last three races and leading laps in seven straight. In fact, Busch has led double-digit laps in the last four races at Pocono, leading 50-plus three times. He should be a force in any fantasy format this weekend.
A Pocono win continues to elude him, but Harvick has been one of the most dependable drivers at the track. He has an 8.5 average finish in 10 starts here with Stewart-Haas Racing, logging eight Top 10s and seven Top 5s. Harvick has actually finished fourth or better in each of the last five races at Pocono, leading 89 laps and 30 laps, respectively, in the two races here a year ago.
Keselowski’s flat track prowess has been on full display at Pocono, and he has finished in the Top 5 and led laps in six of the last seven races here. Over the last 10 races at Pocono, his seven Top 5s are tied for the most of any driver. He should be one of the top plays in both season-long and DFS contests this weekend.
He has come on strong at Pocono the last couple of years. Truex is the defending winner of this weekend’s race, and he has two wins in the last eight races here. He has finished sixth or better in three of his last four starts at the track, leading laps in six of the last eight and 30-plus in two of the last three. Add Truex to the list of elite options across all formats.
The flat tracks always seem to be among his best, and Pocono has been no exception. Elliot has cracked the Top 10 in five of his six starts here, and he has led double-digit laps in two of those races, leading 14 laps and finishing seventh in the July race last year. Look for Elliott to challenge for a Top 5 Sunday, and I really like him as an option in Fantasy Live.