Pocono 400 presented by #NASCAR Fantasy Preview
This weekend's race at Pocono marks a sign of the times. NASCAR, or should I say #NASCAR, has made a push to be the social media leader among professional sports. The Pocono 400 presented by #NASCAR will be the first of its kind as it officially brands the sport via Twitter by promoting the hashtag.
The sanctioning body announced last month that it has partnered with the social media giant to help bring fans unmatched communication during the race. Twitter.com/#NASCAR has been set up to weed out the best of the best in-race tweets and is intended to improve fans' ability to communicate with one another.
The partnership begins at a perfect time for race fans as NASCAR's TV coverage switches from newtork-based FOX to cable-based TNT. Many viewers lament the inability to watch the race once it shifts to cable, but the Twitter coverage will be a comparable substitute. In fact, as we've committed to tweeting from @NHMS during every race, I've noticed that Twitter runs about a lap in front of the delayed broadcast feed, so fans will know what it going on before viewers do.
Aside from coming here to "The Magic Mile" for a race, it's hard to replace the visual aspect of watching the race on TV. I'll concede that much. However, the combination of the new Twitter coverage with solid radio broadcasts should keep fans engaged, even without the benefit of cable.
Of course, aside from Brad Keselowski, who famously tweeted from his car during a Daytona 500 red flag, Twitter won't have any impact on the drivers during the race. They'll still be vying for a trip to Victory Lane as always. So, while fantasy players can tweet expert @FantasyRace with #FantasyNASCAR questions, they won't notice a difference in their game.
Strategy: Pocono Raceway has a unique tri-oval shape. While that term is used on other tracks, nothing comes close to being as triangular as this track. Despite it's 2.5-mile length, it does not race like superspeedways of similar lengths. Dominating this track takes a precise give-and-go on the gas, so, like short tracks, the same drivers tend to finish strongly at Pocono.
#11 Denny Hamlin - He's one of the drivers that's figured this track out. He has a dominating four wins in 12 Pocono starts, which translates to a 118.6 driver rating that runs away from the rest of the field.
#24 Jeff Gordon - I get the feeling that when Gordon turns around his terrible luck, it's going to happen quickly. He won here last year, which marked his fifth win at the track. Keep in mind, there have been many other times this season that he's been at a favorable venue and hasn't fared well, but this can't go on forever.
#48 Jimmie Johnson - He's won two of the last three races (on the season) and lumped an All-Star win in there as well. Combine that with a 9.7 average finish at Pocono and you have very little reason not to roll Johnson out there again.
#17 Matt Kenseth - His three top-fives in 24 starts isn't exciting. Despite being the A-List's leader in 2012 fantasy points, there are better options this week.
#5 Kasey Kahne - With eight straight top-10s on the season, Kahne has been good everywhere recently. He's not fantastic at Pocono, but he's still above average when it comes to the B-List.
#39 Ryan Newman - The Rocketman's 94.8 Pocono driver rating is the best on the B-List and he leads the list in fantasy points in the last 10 races at this track as well.
#55 Mark Martin - The 53-year-old continues to provide good value with his part-time schedule. He's fourth in the field with an 11.2 average finish at Pocono, so this is another good week to get value and save allocations on full-timers.
#56 Martin Truex Jr. - His 15.3 average finish at Pocono ranks behind only Newman and Martin on the B-List and with the way he's driven this year, he's rarely a bad start.
#9 Marcos Ambrose - The Aussie's road course background usually makes him good on tracks where he has to play with the gas. That's not the case at Pocono where he ranks dead last on the B-List in average fantasy points.
#22 AJ Allmendinger - With the way the Dinger has struggled in 2012, he's not a good start right now and has just one top-10 in nine starts at Pocono.
#43 Aric Almirola - Considering I was actually trying to talk myself into Bobby Labonte's 19.7 average finish at Pocono, it's fair to say the viable options are few and far between this week. That means it's probably another allocation used on Almirola in this one.
#51 David Reutimann - Kurt Busch's suspension opens the door for Reutimann to climb into the No. 51. While Kurt's season has been terrible, the car has still been finishing better than most all of the C-List. That at least supports a theory that Reutimann could be a dark horse for a surprising finish.
#13 Casey Mears - I really tried to talk myself into Mears, as he has two top-10s in the last 10 Pocono races, but he has just three in a total of 18 starts at this track. He used to be in better cars than he is now, so he's not a candidate for a good finish.
The picks in this blog are based around Yahoo's Fantasy Auto Racing game and its standard scoring rules. The preview is designed to provide suggestions, while still encouraging managers to make their own decisions. Once sorted into Yahoo's A, B and C-Lists, they are organized based on car number and not directly associated with a rank value.
You can sign up and play for free, by visiting http://racing.fantasysports.yahoo.com. If signed up, the "Fans of NHMS" group may be joined by clicking here.