THE CHECKERED FLAG -“THE TRICKY TRIANGLE” POCONO RACEWAY – NASCAR DFS

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Welcome back for another DFS NASCAR breakdown! I’m Joe Kooinga, DPA’s resident NASCAR writer here to give you my top plays for Race 1 of this weekend’s double header at Pocono. We are right at the midway point of the regular season. This week we have the “Tricky triangle” Pocono raceway. This is a very unique track in that it has just 3 turns, and each turn is different, requiring a different approach to get around at high speeds. We don’t have any practice times again this week, which is definitely going to make picks a bit tougher. We have to go off of track history here and focus on guys who have shown a knack for doing well here. 

Dominators

Ryan Blaney | 2nd | 9,000 DK| 11,800 FD

Blaney had easily been one of the best drivers (and team) since our return. He’s consistently battling for a top10 spot if not higher. Blaney has a win here in 2017. Overall, he’s raced here 8 times. Over that span he has finished 12th or better every race but one. Now he has not lead a lot of laps here over that span. His most being 11 in a race here. But, we are on the verge of Blaney possibly being a championship contender this season. He’s definitely upped his game this year and is arguably the best driver in the series over the last 4-5 weeks or so. So I like this play. He’s too good not to have some exposure starting 2nd. From the sounds of it, the outside lane is the preferred starting spot, so Blaney might be at a slight disadvantage to Almirola at the very start of this race, but knowing his driving ability I still think he can grab the lead within 10 laps or so. 

Aric Almirola | 1st | 7,300 DK | 9,000 FD

Starting on the pole I think Aric is worth a shot for gpp. He’s cheap enough on DK that a top10 finish would still produce a good value. He has finished 10th and 12th here his last two appearances which would be pretty close to paying off his DK price if he could duplicate. I think this is more of a DK play then FD and I like Blaney more overall. But Aric is viable for gpp. Especially if you’re making several lines. 

Denny Hamlin | 3rd | 8,800 DK | 13,000 FD 

The DK price is appealing more so then the hefty 13k price tag on FD. He won here last July. He’s had 4 solid races here out of his last 5. And he’s led at least 1 lap here 5 out of his last 6. He is another guy I think you should have exposure to. He’s been really solid since the return and he may be one of the best here this week. I would target Blaney slightly more, but, both of these guys should be contenders for the win. 

Kyle Busch | 4th | 9,300 DK | 13,500 FD

He’s probably in the worst slump he’s been in for the last decade. As I’ve stated before, I don’t think this continues forever. The lack of practice is probably hurting Busch more then any other driver in the series. They usually don’t have their car dialed in very well to start races and I feel like that frustrates Kyle, causing him to maybe quit on his team a bit and just not give his max effort. This kinda brings us to a dilemma here. Overall, this is Kyle’s 2nd best track by driver rating. He’s won 3 out of the last 5 races here. He’s finished top10 here 7 races in a row. To add to the impressive stats, he’s led laps here in 9 straight races. His DK price is the lowest it’s ever been, when does he snap out of this funk? This is probably one of his best chances to get things turned around. He’s just too cheap not to have exposure in case this is indeed the race we see Kyle return to a more expected form. He’s even cheap enough you could stack him with another dominator option and hope to nail both. The pricing on FD makes that a bit harder. But there is value on FD that makes it still possible over there as well. Kyle Busch and Blaney or Busch and Hamlin is an intriguing duo, I’ll have lines with both combos and keep going back to Busch knowing that at any point he could return to form and dominate a race. 

Brad Keselowski | 8th | 9,900 DK | 11,400 FD

I think this is a really solid cash game play. Maybe goes overlooked a bit, but he really shouldn’t. Brad has finished top10 here 8 out of the last 9 races. 7 of those races he actually finished top5. This is great consistency for 9900 and if not for a wreck here in 2018 probably has the best rating at this track of anyone not named Kyle Busch. The Penske cars have probably been the best cars the last 4 weeks and I don’t think they slouch here at all. Starting 8th, I would be surprised if he’s not in the top10 by race end. A top5 finish is tough for just about anyone but Brad has proven more then capable with his collective history. I don’t mind creating a duo with him and another dominator I mentioned previously either. His price is sandwiched between Harvick and Truex which should keep the ownership down here a bit. Don’t forget to get some exposure here. The track history is pretty impressive. 

Kevin Harvick | 6th | 10,100 DK | 14,000 FD 

First off the FD price is a bit high. 14,000 is a lot. So I won’t have a ton of exposure over there. But the consistency here is very solid. 9 out of the last 11 races here Harvick has been top10. 7 of those races he finished top5. Harvick has actually never won here before though. So I think you could get similar scores out of slightly cheaper drivers on FD. The DK price is solid and another name to throw into the hat if you are making dominator duos with guys I’ve mentioned already. 

Place Differential

Erik Jones | 19th | 7,100 DK | 10,000 FD 

I love this play. By statistics, this is Jones third best track on the circuit. You could argue he’s even better then that here. He’s raced here 6 times prior in the cup series. 5 of those times he finished top10. In 4 of those races he actually finished in the top5. He’s even led laps here in 4 of the 6 races prior. Starting 19th gives Jones one of the best gpp potentials on this slate. I expect a top10 finish here. I think he should get you at least a +10 place differential which has to be one of the best upside plays for this slate. The price on DK is a bit laughable to me. 7100 is too cheap for what Jones has proven he can do here. DK messed up here. So I will lock this play in on a ton of lines with confidence. You should too. Even on FD. He’s priced up to 10k over there for a reason, this is easily one of his best tracks. As long as he can stay issue free he should easily be one of the best plays on this slate. 

William Byron | 16th | 8,400 DK | 10,400 FD

This is another excellent play. He’s a bit more then Jones, but comes with a very good record here prior. He’s raced here 4 times in cup. Since his first appearance here he’s finished no worse then 9th. He has 3 top10 finishes here in a row. Starting 16th he’s in a nice spot to get you somewhere around a +7 place diff, if not slightly higher. I do like Jones more. Especially on DK. But this option is not far off that. I will have a lot of exposure in anticipation of him having one of his best races since our return. Viable for both gpp and cash games. There’s an outside chance he’s overlooked a bit, which would be a mistake. Get some exposure. 

Tyler Reddick | 15th | 7,400 DK | 8,400 DK

No write up should leave out Reddick right now. The kid is on a roll and easily the best rookie in the class this year. Being a rookie, we have no cup history to go off of. But two things working in his favor. He was 2nd to Custer last year in xfin and the #8 car driven by another driver not nearly as good as Reddick has finished 7th and 13th here the last two races. Both of which was a +10 place diff. And we’ve seen that Reddick can crack the top10 or even top5 already this year. He’s actually the first driver on the outside of the playoff picture, and by 1 point. Which would be impressive for any rookie. I think he keeps rolling this week and shouldn’t finish lower then the 15th starting spot. 

Clint Bowyer | 18th | 9,500DK | 9,400 FD

The pricing for FD is a bit low here. Making him a better play there then on DK. But still worth a spot in some of your lineups on DK. This is a solid track for Bowyer. 4 out of the last 5 races here Bowyer has finished 11th or better. 8 out of 10 races he’s finished better then 18th place here, where he starts this one. I don’t see him losing many spots here at all. If he can stay incident free he should be battling to crack the top10. You’d be happy with a +7 or more place diff, and that’s very possible here. This is a really solid cash game play and has gpp appeal too. 

Chris Buescher | 24th | 6,500 DK | 7,500 FD

Buescher’s only win in cup actually came at this track. Now, it was due to rain cancelling the rest of the race, he wouldn’t have won if the race went the full distance. But, a win is a win. He has some mixed results since that win in 2016. But 4 out of the 6 races since he did finish top20. Starting 24th puts him in a good spot to get you +5 place diff, if not a little more, for a very manageable price on either site. In all 4 of the races since the win he had over a +10 place diff. That may be a bit more then we get here. But worthy of a play at this price tag. 

Cole Custer | 25th | 6,400DK | 6,900 FD

“The General” has a win here in xfin. Being a rookie we don’t have any prior cup history to compare, but he has the car and the team to be able to do pretty decent here. I could see a top20 finish or so, and possibly some lower ownership. I like Buescher a bit more but both are basically on the same level here. He has raced here 3 times prior in xfin. 7th place being his lowest finish and he actually led laps in each of the 3 races. Cup is a much tougher level of competition I don’t expect those type of results but he should be worth a play with a very manageable price tag. 

Chris Bell | 36th | 11,100 DK| 8,000 FD

The FD price makes him one of the best plays on the slate over there. The DK price is insane. Again, DK has priced him up because they didn’t open any contests until after the starting lineup was announced. I’m not sure if you need him on DK. If he has any issues that line is in trouble. On FD just lock him in and don’t worry about it. He’s probably the highest owned driver on FD based on that price and the place diff potential. I would have him on all FD lines, the price makes him an interesting fade on DK. I think I would rather not play him and hope he makes a mistake. But I will still ha some exposure on DK. Being a rookie we have no prior cup history to go off of and his xfin history isn’t anything special at all. I don’t think this is one of his best tracks by any means. But a +15 or so place diff is possible. Making him an easy pick for 8000 on FD. 

Michael McDowell | 26th | 5,500 DK| 5,000 FD 

McDowell has 7 straight starts at Pocono where he finished 25th or better. Starting 26th and being cheap, he might be worth a play as the last man on your team, I don’t expect a top15 finish by any means, but he would pay off the minimal price tag if he can just crack the top20. Which he has done 4 out of those 7 races. If he fits your line as your last pick, it’s not a bad play. I’m not prioritizing him, in some builds you might not even need someone this cheap, but if you do, this is probably the first place I would go. 

Daniel Suarez | 37th | 6,900 DK| 5,000 FD 

Suarez has decent history here. But that needs to be taken with a grain of salt. He’s in a much lower income team now then he was for those performances. However, he starts 37th so I guess he’s viable for gpp because he should be a top30 car. That won’t pay off his 6900 price tag on DK. But it would pay off on FD. I’m not a big fan of the play to be honest. But if I’m running multiple gpp lines I might add him to one or two lines and hope he gets some lucky breaks. 

CORE

Dominators: Blaney, Hamlin, Kyle Busch (GPP)

Place Differential: Bell, E. Jones, Bowyer, Buescher, Custer

Cash Games: Keselowski, Bell, Blaney, E. Jones, Kyle Busch (DK),

BEST BETS

Erik Jones (to finish Top 5) +250 – Risky, but solid return if it happens. -150 (to finish Top 10).

William Byron (to finish Top 10) -118

Thank you for joining us for this week’s edition of The Checkered Flag! Make sure to give us a follow on twitter if you haven’t yet already, and stay tuned for more great content headed your way courtesy of your friends at DPA!