NASCAR is at Pocono Raceway this weekend for the M&Ms Fan Appreciation 400 on Sunday. Nicknamed “The Tricky Triangle,” Pocono is a huge 2.5-mile flat track that has three very distinct corners. Strategy and fuel mileage has came into play here at Pocono in the past, but as far as raw speed, it’s going to be the drivers that are most comfortable with their setup that create the most speed on Sunday.

There are only 160 laps scheduled for Sunday’s race, which means place differential and finishing position rank a little bit higher in importance than usual for DraftKings, as the dominator points are more limited than in a, say, 301-lap race like we had last weekend. You’ll likely still need to have one dominator in your lineup.

NOTE: News broke on Sunday morning that Kurt Busch will NOT be racing today. He will be replaced by Ty Gibbs. Do NOT play Kurt Busch in DraftKings today. Ty Gibbs is not in the player pool so you can’t pick him.

Optimal Lineup According to Jordan’s Projections

The optimal DraftKings lineup for Pocono on Sunday according to my Projections is:

  • Denny Hamlin
  • Ross Chastain
  • Tyler Reddick
  • Erik Jones
  • Austin Cindric
  • Cole Custer

The 2nd-highest scoring lineup according to the projections is the same thing except switching out Denny Hamlin for Kyle Busch.

The 3rd-highest projected lineup is: Denny Hamlin, Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick, Erik Jones, Brad Keselowski, Austin Cindric.

DraftKings NASCAR Cash Core Picks for M&Ms Fan Appreciation 400

Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Kyle Busch ($10,600) OR Denny Hamlin ($10,400) – It’s really a toss-up here on who you want to go with. Both of these guys are elite Pocono racers and have a combined 10 Cup Series wins at “The Tricky Triangle” over a combined 66 starts. They’re also starting 1-2 for today’s race, so neither has place differential potential. I have Busch and Hamlin projected at pretty much the same amount of DraftKings FPTS points, and in practice on Saturday these two showed similar speed. Kyle Busch did make a longer run, though. Still, Hamlin is on the pole so he should be out front at the start of today’s race, so I give a slight edge to him, but like I said, it’s a toss-up on who you want to go with here.

Ross Chastain ($10,000) – The #1 team is notorious for lacking speed (and laps) in practice, but this weekend at Pocono, Chastain went out and put up the best 5-lap average on Saturday, the best single-lap time, and logged the 2nd-most laps. In qualifying, Chastain ended up 21st, though, which means he has great place differential potential in Sunday’s race and is a great cash core play. Ross’s record here at “The Tricky Triangle” is nothing great, but this season is all about what have you done for me lately. Chastain is a weekly top 5 threat and that’s no different this weekend.

Erik Jones ($7,600) – My projected FPTS for Erik Jones is probably a bit on the low side, but even so he pops up in over 95% of lineups when you run an optimizer to create 150 of them. This is one of his best tracks on the Cup Series schedule and in addition to DraftKings kind of under-pricing Jones this weekend, he went out and scraped the wall in qualifying, which will put in back in 34th when the M&Ms Fan Appreciation 400 goes green today. Without any major issues today, you can expect this #43 Chevrolet to finish in the mid-teens, but there’s top 10 upside here as well.

DraftKings NASCAR Tournament Picks for the M&Ms Fan Appreciation 400

Photo Credit: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Christopher Bell ($8,900) – If you run a lineup optimizer for 150 lineups today using my projections, the guy who pops up 2nd-most behind Erik Jones is Christopher Bell–and for good reason. I have CBell projected to score 45 DraftKings FPTS today with an average projected finish of 9.0. He obviously has much higher potential than that. Fresh off his win at New Hampshire, Christopher Bell comes to a track where he’s only had one good finish in his Cup Series career: a 4th-place result back in 2020 when running for Leavine Family Racing. Still, CBell was a top 5 contender in last year’s race but cut a tire on lap 97, and the #20 Toyota ranked 2nd in 5-lap average during practice here at Pocono on Saturday behind Ross Chastain.

Austin Cindric ($7,200) – Another guy that is popping in my projections is Austin Cindric. Now, word of warning: picking rookies at Pocono typically doesn’t end up too well, but there is potential here. First, Cindric is in a Penske car, and we all know what kind of speed those Fords can put out at the big tracks. Additionally, Cindric won here at Pocono in the Xfinity Series last season, and the momentum that he has going right now is definitely something; over the last six races of the season, Cindric’s 7.7 average finish is 3rd-best in the series, and over the last 15 races, his average finish of 14.7 is 9th-best. My projections have Cindric with an average finish of 14.8 for today’s race and he’s still popping on the projections. Great tournament play in my book.

Michael McDowell ($6,500) – Give me this pivot off of the chalk Cole Custer ($6,300) down here. RotoDoc and I talked about this guy on the Stacking Dennys podcast this week (listen below if you haven’t yet). Michael McDowell is really good at Pocono. His career average finish of 27.3 here isn’t anything to get excited about, but you also have to consider the fact that McDowell ran in absolutely junk equipment for 8 of his 19 starts here. Since he’s gotten into decent equipment, he’s finished 25th or better in 10 of the last 11 races at “The Tricky Triangle,” including 7 finishes of 21st or better in the last 9 races here. McDowell will start from 25th today and with how this team is performing in 2022, he’s definitely someone I want to be overweight on in tournaments.

Stacking Dennys Podcast with Jordan & RotoDoc

Pocono DraftKings Driver Projections

The following chart takes into account the very basics: the starting position and the projected finish of each driver. The projected finishes are averaged from six different ranking systems. Also factored in are projected laps led and fastest laps for each driver. You can click the headers below to sort the chart by that attribute. By default it is sorted by average projected FPTS.

DriverDK SalaryAvg Proj FPTSProj OwnStarting PositionAvg. Projected FinishDollar Per FPT
Denny Hamlin$10,40053.3730.25%104.5$195
Kyle Busch$10,60053.3030.52%204.5$199
Ross Chastain$10,00051.1239.71%2109.2$196
Chase Elliott$10,10047.6231.36%305.7$212
Christopher Bell$8,90045.0019.13%1109.0$198
Martin Truex Jr$10,30043.9317.43%806.8$234
William Byron$9,20043.0224.87%1810.2$214
Kevin Harvick$9,00042.4027.41%2412.7$212
Kyle Larson$9,80041.9719.07%406.3$234
Ryan Blaney$9,40040.9315.98%609.0$230
Erik Jones$7,60040.5054.55%3417.8$188
Tyler Reddick$8,30040.1720.26%1611.8$207
Alex Bowman$8,10037.9023.24%1711.8$214
Joey Logano$9,60036.7316.12%1410.7$261
Austin Cindric$7,20034.0715.49%2014.8$211
Brad Keselowski$7,30032.5025.11%2618.3$225
Bubba Wallace$7,50028.536.90%713.5$263
Daniel Suarez$7,90028.3315.53%913.5$279
Cole Custer$6,30027.1730.04%3223.8$232
Ricky Stenhouse Jr$6,60027.0017.95%1916.8$244
Michael McDowell$6,50025.6718.83%2521.2$253
Harrison Burton$6,00020.3310.80%2824.7$295
Ty Dillon$5,80020.0010.06%2724.5$290
Aric Almirola$7,80019.835.42%1217.7$393
Corey Lajoie$5,50018.335.82%2323.3$300
Austin Dillon$7,00018.0013.93%1520.5$389
Justin Haley$6,10017.5015.91%3027.3$349
Chase Briscoe$8,70016.677.08%1319.0$522
Noah Gragson$5,60016.005.85%2224.2$350
Todd Gilliland$5,30014.509.94%2927.8$366
Chris Buescher$6,80013.255.72%517.7$513
Cody Ware$5,10013.173.24%3632.2$387
BJ McLeod$4,70008.831.77%3533.8$532
JJ Yeley$5,00007.502.63%3333.3$667
Josh Bilicki$4,80007.501.30%3132.5$640
Kurt Busch$8,50000.000.77%1000.0$0
As someone who has always been obsessed with numbers, Fantasy NASCAR has been the perfect fit with me. I pride myself on the quality of my analysis for each race, and am glad that I have been able to help others along the way. I've been a serious Fantasy NASCAR player for over 10 years now, and I'm just getting started.