Thursday, July 26, 2018

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Gander Outdoors 400 at Pocono


By Carol D'Agostino

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Brad Keselowski - 4
All with 3 - Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch

By Track
All with 7 - Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick
Both with 6 - Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin
Both with 4 - Kyle Larson and Ryan Newman 

Recent Pole Winners:
2017 Kyle Busch
2016 Martin Truex Jr.

Last Year's Race Winner: Kyle Busch

The Likely Suspects: The "Tricky Triangle" is notorious for having a committed fan base, and it's also popular with the Pocono elite drivers. Keep an eye on these drivers this weekend: Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman, and Martin Truex Jr.

My 2 Cents: My no-brainer pick this week is Kyle Busch, who after last week's bump and run from Kevin Harvick may have a little something to prove. My next picks are and Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, and Ryan Blaney. I will complete my team with Michael McDowell and Chris Buescher.

My Final Four: Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, Ryan Blaney and Michael McDowell.

Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is Jimmie Johnson. Are the Chevys ready to turn the corner? This could be Jimmie Johnson's breakout weekend. Johnson has three wins and four poles at Pocono and leads all active Monster Energy Series drivers with 20 top-10 finishes here. Back on June 3 he had a decent performance finishing in eighth place and leading two laps. Last week's second-look driver, Kasey Kahne, finished 19th after starting 26th.

Points to Ponder:
  • Eight different manufacturers have won in the Monster Energy Series at Pocono led by Chevrolet with 32 victories, followed by Ford with 23, Dodge (seven), Pontiac (six), Toyota (six), Buick (four), Mercury (two) and Oldsmobile (one).
  • The first starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing the most winners (16) – a 20% winning percentage.  
  • Denny Hamlin leads all active series drivers in wins at Pocono with four (2006 sweep, 2009 and 2010). 
  • Five active drivers have multiple wins at Pocono: Denny Hamlin (four), Jimmie Johnson (three), Kurt Busch (three), Kasey Kahne (two) and Martin Truex Jr. (two).
  • Two of the seven drivers to win consecutive races at Pocono are active: Jimmie Johnson (2004 sweep) and Denny Hamlin (2006 sweep; 2009 fall and 2010 spring races).
  • Kurt Busch leads all active drivers in runner-up and top-five finishes at Pocono. He has five runner-up finishes followed by Kevin Harvick with four (and 14 top fives), followed by Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick with 11 each.
  • Jimmie Johnson leads all active MENCS drivers with 20 top-10 finishes at Pocono.
  • Brad Keselowski (17 starts) leads all active drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in average finishing position at Pocono with a 10.176.
  • Kyle Busch leads all active drivers at Pocono with four Busch poles (spring 2010, fall 2015, 2017 sweep).
  • Of the 43 Pocono pole winners, only six have won consecutive Busch poles, including active drivers Denny Hamlin (2006 sweep), Joey Logano (fall 2011 and spring 2012) and Kyle Busch (2017 sweep).
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your picks by 8 a.m. EDT on Saturday, July 28th, and your final picks by 2:30 p.m. EDT on race day Sunday, July 29th.

Enjoy the race! Post your comments here or follow me on Twitter @purplecatpr.

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