As I pointed out yesterday, the NASCAR's new wild-card set up promises to offer one of the most exciting midseasons in NASCAR history.
This weekend's race at Pocono Raceway is titled the Good Sam RV Insurance 500. Ironic, when you consider the amount of questions out there surrounding the last several spots in the Chase.
This year, there is very little insurance for most of the drivers!
This week's post is a little easier than most for me, as it's the first time I've had the same track since I began the fantasy previews in April.
Yet, Pocono Raceway is a weird track for which to game plan, so advantage negated!
At 2.5 miles, it sounds like it could be a superspeedway. That is, until you look and see it's a weird triangular shape, known as a tri-oval. The corners sit relatively flat and with three defined corners, so the track races like one much smaller than what you'd expect.
*In case you're new to this segment, check out my first fantasy post on how the system works.
Strategy: It's a similar suggestion to last week at Indianapolis to go with the big names. Pocono seems to produce winners from the best cars and drivers, so your safest bet is your surest bet.
#11 Denny Hamlin - Hamlin's 19th place finish early this year was a smelly egg, but he has more wins (four) in 11 starts then finishes outside the top-10 (three). Plus, he admits in his ads that he loves love and I love winning, so he's a good choice!
#24 Jeff Gordon - Gordon posts similar robust numbers to Hamlin with five wins and 26 top-10s in 37 starts. His most recent win came when the Sprint Cup Series visited the track earlier this season and his car seems to be running very well lately.
#48 Jimmie Johnson - Johnson has the second highest driver rating (106.4) at the track, trailing just Hamlin. He's won twice and finished in the top-10 13 times in 19 starts with an average finish of 9.3. Any other week, that might be a lock for a start but there are plenty of great options to start in the A-List this week.
#17 Matt Kenseth - With little fan fare, Kenseth is right in the middle of the Chase. He's won two races and is tied with Kyle Busch in fourth for 666 points, yet, like most, I only seem to single him out when he's not going to do well. Unfortunately, that's the case here, in a deep A-List, you should stay away from a guy with just three top-fives in 23 starts.
#4 Kasey Kahne - Kahne is one of the people who has the most to gain with the wild-card as he's just a win away from being a serious Chase contender. He won here back in 2008 and, while his finishes have been inconsistent at Pocono, he tends to start strong and is one of the best options.
#39 Ryan Newman - Newman is solid at Pocono, where he's won, taken two poles and finishes almost four spots higher than his career average (13.1 compared to 16.7). The only question is how many starts you have left to use on the B-List's a-lister.
#42 Juan Pablo Montoya - JPM's late race struggles at Indianapolis continued as he wasted a seventh-place start and a good day with a 28th-place finish last Sunday. The loss dropped him to 20th in the standings and he needs to start finishing in the front of the field, if he wants to be a contender. He has four top-10s in nine starts and the tri-oval lends more to his road course specialty than a traditional oval.
#56 Martin Truex Jr. - Having to start two drivers every week in the B-List can be draining, it really zaps the ability to roll out your top drivers. That's why Truex is a great option this week. On average, he finishes four spots higher at Pocono (15.6) than on his career (19.6). He could be a great value and save the top of the group for another day.
#33 Clint Bowyer - I like Bowyer; I really do. However, I'm starting to lose some faith. He hasn't been racing well, with four straight finishes of 15th or worse. At Pocono, he has the worst driver rating of anyone currently in the top-12 in points. All fantasy signs point toward his garage this weekend.
#88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. - I advised staying away from him last time while simultaneously picking him to win. He didn't but did finished sixth. He still doesn't make a lot of sense to start here as he has just seven top-10s in 23 starts. More importantly, he hasn't picked up a top-10 finish this season since the last time he visited this track, seven races ago!
#27 Paul Menard - I hate buying into a guy just because he won, but he does currently top the C-List, so it's legit. At Pocono earlier this year, he started second and finished 14th (both C-List bests).
#78 Regan Smith - While Menard might have topped the C-List at Pocono, Smith ran a close second. He qualified fifth and came home 15th. It might be a good week to save Menard and David Ragan, as Smith is a good option.
#47 Bobby Labonte - Labonte hasn't finished better than 28th in the last five races here and hasn't snuck a top-10 since 2006. He doesn't have much value this week.
My preliminary roster
A - GORDON (7), Hamlin (8)
B - KAHNE (4), TRUEX JR. (9), Allemdinger (8), Newman (3)
C - SMITH (5), Menard (5)
*Number in parenthesis are allocations remaining.