NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: M&M's Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono Raceway


Wow! We got our 14th different winner last week at New Hampshire, with Christopher Bell passing points leader Chase Elliott for the win, and of course that huge lobster as a trophy. The win was Joe Gibbs Racing's fourth win of the season and 12 at New Hampshire.

With Bell's win last week, things are getting a bit nerve-wracking for those drivers just below the Playoff cutline: Martin Truex Jr., who dropped to 16th,  and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick in the 17th position, the first spot outside the Playoff cutoff. Coincidentally both drivers run well historically at Pocono. Harvick has one win, fifteen Top 5s, and twenty-two Top10s, with an average finish of 9.529, the second-best overall. Truex Jr. isn't too shabby either, with two wins, six Top 5s, and thirteen Top 10s with an average finish of 14.719, the ninth-best. 

Now, this could get interesting.
Drivers with Most Top 10s at Pocono (of the last six races 2019 to 2021):
Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, and Kyle Busch-5 each
William Byron - 4

By Track (Last 5 Years- 2017 to 2021):
Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch-9
Brad Keselowski -8
Denny Hamlin - 7 
Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones, and Chase Elliott -6
Note: 2016-2018 ran the 750 Horsepower Package
Recent Race Winners:
2021 Race 1 (June 26): Alex Bowman
2021 Race 2 (June 27): Kyle Busch
2020 Race 1 (June 27): Kevin Harvick
2020 Race 1 (June 28): Denny Hamlin
2019 (June 2): Kyle Busch
2019 (July 28): Denny Hamlin
The Likely Suspects: My Pocono go-tos consist of Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, William Byron, Ryan Blaney, and Kurt Busch.

My 2 Cents: My no-brainer pick this week is Kyle Busch. My next picks are Denny Hamlin, William Byron, Kurt Busch, Alex Bowman, and Chris Buescher. I will complete my team with Erik Jones and Michael McDowell.

My Final Four: Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, William Byron, and Erik Jones.

Second-Look Driver: My sleeper pick this week is Erik Jones. In his 10 Cup Series starts at the Tricky Triangle,  Erik has five Top 5s, six Top 10s, and has led 45 laps with an average finish of 14.4. Erik is currently 19th in the driver's standings, 25 points behind Aric Almirola. A win would punch his ticket to the Playoffs.
Points to Ponder:
  • 10 of the 39 NASCAR Cup Series Pocono Raceway winners are entered this weekend. They are Denny Hamlin with 6 wins, Kyle Busch with 4,  Kurt Busch with 3, Martin Truex Jr. with 2 wins, and Alex Bowman, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Blaney, Chris Buescher, Joey Logano, and Brad Keselowski with 1 win each. 
  • 16 of the 88 (18.2%) 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 starting in the first position the most proficient starting position in the field. 
  • Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in team wins at Pocono, with 18.
  • Eight different manufacturers have won in the NASCAR Cup Series at Pocono, led by Chevrolet with 33, followed by Ford with 24. 
  • Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick lead all active drivers in runner-up finishes at Pocono, with five each.
  • Kevin Harvick leads all active drivers in Top 5s at Pocono, with 15 in 42 starts. 
  • Kevin Harvick leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in Top 10s with 22, followed by Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch with 21 each.
  • William Byron leads the NASCAR Cup Series in average finishing position at Pocono with a 9.125 average over eight starts.
  • Denny Hamlin leads all active drivers in laps led at Pocono Raceway, with 797 laps led in 32 starts. 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 initial picks by 8 a.m. ET on Saturday, July 23rd, and your final picks by 3 p.m. ET on race day Sunday, July 24th.
Enjoy the race!
Carol D'Agostino has been playing Fantasy NASCAR for 16 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: M&M's Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono Raceway NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: M&M's Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono Raceway Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Saturday, July 23, 2022 Rating: 5