NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Double-header at Pocono

Wow. It's not often that you get to watch a Cinderella story unfold before your very eyes. The last month has been all about Kyle Larson and records being rewritten for Hendrick Motorsports. Will this special double-header weekend provide more of the same? After all, Kyle will start in the pole position for Race 1. I'm thinking that Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch may have something to say about it. All three drivers are winless so far this season and have great records here at Pocono.

This Week's Pick Strategy:
I'm hedging my bets this week. Joe Gibbs Racing has been the organization to beat here at Pocono Raceway winning six of the last seven races at the 2.5-mile track, so I'm going to pick heavy on the JGR camp, sprinkling in past winners and adding a dash of desperate bubble drivers who can't afford to play the points game anymore.
Drivers with Most Top 10s (2019 and 2020):
Last Four Races Running the 550 Horsepower Package
Denny Hamlin - 4
All with 3 - Aric Almirola, Brad Keselowski, Erik Jones, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., and William Byron

By Track (Last 5 Years):
Kevin Harvick- 9
Both with 8 - Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch
Both with 7 - Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin
Both with 6 - Erik Jones and Martin Truex Jr., 
Note: 2016-2018 ran the 750 Horsepower Package

Last Year's Race Winner: Denny Hamlin

My No-Brainer Pick: Denny Hamlin

My Race 1 Final Four: Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, William Byron and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

When we re-rack them for Race 2, I'll be looking for drivers who had a decent run but just ran out of laps. I will focus on precision drivers since Pocono is one of NASCAR's most competitive and difficult tracks.

Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is Chris Buescher. Chris got his first career win here in Pocono in 2016 and has earned one Top 5 and two Top 10s, plus he has a little extra incentive. He currently sits 16th in the driver standings just 24 points above Wood Brothers Racing’s Matt DiBenedetto in 17th – the first spot outside postseason eligibility.
Points to Ponder:
  • 10 of the 38 NASCAR Cup Series Pocono Raceway winners are entered this weekend. They are: Denny Hamlin with 6 wins; Kyle and Kurt Busch with 3 each; Martin Truex Jr. with 2 wins: and Kevin Harvick , Ryan Blaney, Chris Buescher, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, and Ryan Newman with 1 win each. 
  • 16 of the 86 (19%) NASCAR Cup Series races at Pocono Raceway have been won from the pole (14) or first starting position (two); the most recent was Kyle Busch on July 30, 2017. This makes first starting position the most proficient starting position in the field. 
  • Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in wins at Pocono with 17.
  • Eight different manufacturers have won in the NASCAR Cup Series at Pocono, led by Chevrolet with 32. 
  • Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick lead all active drivers in runner-up finishes at Pocono with five each, as well as in Top 5s at Pocono with 14 each. 
  • Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch lead all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers with 20 Top-10 finishes each at Pocono.
  • William Byron leads the NASCAR Cup Series in average finishing position at Pocono with a 9.667 in six starts.
  • Denny Hamlin leads all active drivers in laps led at Pocono Raceway with 785 laps led in 30 starts. But Kurt Busch holds the record for most laps led in a single NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway by the race winner. Kurt led 175 of 200 scheduled laps (87.5%) on August 5, 2007.
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your picks for race one by 3 p.m. ET on Saturday June 26th, and by 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday June 27th for race two.
Enjoy the race!

Carol D'Agostino has been playing Fantasy NASCAR for 15 years. She launched NASCAR Fantasy Fusion for Skirts & Scuffs in October 2011. Each week, Carol pores through statistics and combs through her personal notebooks to arm fans with analysis and picking strategies that will leave their friends wondering how they got so smart. Carol also does race coverage for Skirts & Scuffs at Richmond Raceway and occasionally at her home track, Dover International Speedway. She is also part of the distinguished NASCAR Expert Picks panel at formerly called Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet.

When she isn’t wielding her fantasy-racing superpowers, you’ll find Carol hammering out a news release or creating a marketing strategy at a small niche public relations firm she founded called Purple Cat, or executing downtown revitalization projects for a small town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Double-header at Pocono NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Double-header at Pocono Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Friday, June 25, 2021 Rating: 5