NASCAR at Pocono DraftKings Picks: DFS Strategy for Sunday’s Pocono 350
Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images. Pictured: Erik Jones, driver of the #20 Craftsman Toyota
The opening leg of the Pocono doubleheader is complete, with Kevin Harvick taking the checkered flag over Denny Hamlin. The race was not without some drama, as Aric Almirola dominated most of the race, but a poor four-tire call by his team relegated him to a third-place finish.
Meanwhile, yesterday’s chalk, Erik Jones, wrecked out in a massive incident with Tyler Reddick. That means Jones will start today’s race from 38th place and once again be the chalkiest driver on the slate.
Like the second race in the Darlington twin bill, today’s race will have the top 20 starting positions filled out by an inversion from their finishing position in the first race. That means Ryan Preece is on the pole.
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NASCAR at Pocono DraftKings DFS Strategy
Strategically, not much should change from the first Pocono race. It’s even less likely that one driver dominates most of the race, since most of the front of the field is not favored to win. That means DFS players should once again look at the combination of place differential and finishing position to build lineups.
Let’s get into the top plays for today’s race.
NASCAR at Pocono DraftKings DFS Picks
Pocono DraftKings Chalk Picks
There are a few chalky plays thanks to several drivers with poor finishes. I’ve written up two drivers here because I want to talk specifically about how much exposure is optimal for these drivers.
At the bottom of the chalk section, I’ll also list several other drivers that you should have at least 25% exposure to in GPPs.
Erik Jones ($7400) – As I mentioned at the top, Jones is the obvious chalk play today. However, the real question is how much exposure should you have to Jones?
To determine this, I looked at the major incident rate since 2013 at Pocono. Overall, about 19% of cars experience a major incident, but that number was only 13.3% last year under similar aerodynamic rules. Additionally, there is likely some chance that Jones has a more minor problem that doesn’t let him move as far forward as possible.
If we assume almost every single other circumstance, Jones ends up far enough forward to be in the winning lineup, then we get a number in the 70%-85% neighborhood for how much Jones exposure is optimal. We also have to consider that this race is a bit shorter than past Pocono races, so less time for an incident.
I’d split the difference and have about 75%-80% exposure to Jones optimally.
Joey Logano ($9400) – Logano is more expensive than Jones, but given the fact that there won’t be many dominator points overall, I’m okay with choosing Logano even if his dominator potential is very slim.
Logano had the third-fastest average green flag speed, but finished 36th due to a late race tire failure. With place differential so important, Logano should almost surely be penciled in for a top-13 finish in an incident-free race. That would give him a minimum of 52 points which should get him on the edge of the winning lineup.
Logano has finished in the top 13 in seven of his 15 Pocono races while with Team Penske. However, with so many chalky plays, I don’t want to have too much exposure to Logano. I’d use him in a little less than half of my lineups.
Other Chalk (in order of most to least preferred exposure): Tyler Reddick (30th, $7600), Chase Elliott (25th, $10,400), Kevin Harvick (20th, $10,700), Alex Bowman (27th, $8500), Denny Hamlin (19th, $10,200), Aric Almirola (18th, $7200)
Pocono DraftKings GPP Picks
Here are three lower-owned drivers you can add into your tournament lineups for some uniqueness off of the chalk.
Brad Keselowski ($9600) – Martin Truex Jr. will go relatively low owned compared to Elliott, Harvick and Hamlin, and you should have some exposure to him in a mass-multi entry setting.
However, I’m quite sure there will be a very large gap in ownership between Truex and Keselowski.
The driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford will be very low owned thanks to some struggles on Saturday in combination with a higher starting position than the aforementioned drivers. The good news — his Penske teammates were fast.
Logano, Ryan Blaney and Penske affiliate Matt DiBenedetto were each in the top nine in both average running position and average green flag speed. Keselowski is a former Pocono winner, and has seven top-five finishes in his last 10 starts at the track.
John Hunter Nemechek ($6100) – I don’t exactly love Nemechek’s starting position, but thanks to the inversion, it’s a whole lot better than most other drivers in his price range. The only other driver from $5500 to $6600 with a palatable starting position is Corey Lajoie ($5600), who rolls off one spot in front of Nemechek.
It’s likely that Nemecheck will have the best day in this price range, and we’re going to need to save salary somewhere.
Quin Houff ($5100) – If a lineup occurs that has multiple high-priced drivers finishing in the top three, with Jones and/or Reddick panning out as well, we may need to skip the $5500-$6600 price range entirely and dip down to Houff, who starts dead last.
Houff wrecked out of the first race, but was faster than six other drivers prior to his wreck. Should he gain six spots on speed, and a few more through other driver problems, a 30th-place finish is enough to give him 24 DraftKings points.
It’s gross, but this is a strange slate. Don’t go crazy here, this is a 15% type play, I just didn’t want the backmarkers to be completely ignored.