The Cup Series teams have quite a challenge this weekend, as not only do they have back-to-back races on Saturday and Sunday, but they have back-to-back races at Pocono. This is one of the trickiest tracks on the schedule to get the car set up correctly for–hence the nickname “The Tricky Triangle”–and not having any practice times is just going to make it even more difficult on these teams. The first race on Saturday will be very interesting, as even the teams that usually have the best cars here could miss the setup, but I think you have to give them the advantage heading into the first race.
Random draw set the starting lineup for Saturday’s race at Pocono, with Aric Almirola having the most luck and drawing the #1 spot. Click here for the full starting lineup for the Pocono Organics 325.
*Please note: the picks and suggestions below are my opinions and strategy for the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. These are not meant to sway your thinking in any way, but rather give you insight into the drivers I am most likely to pick on race day.*
Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest Picks for Pocono Saturday
Kevin Harvick ($12,800) – I could see rolling with Martin Truex, Jr. ($12,400) or Kyle Busch ($12,300) this week, but honestly I don’t fully trust the Toyotas right now, especially with us being at a track like Pocono where horsepower is so important. Instead I’ll go with old reliable, Kevin Harvick. Somehow, “Happy” has never been to victory lane at Pocono but he does have four career 2nd-place finishes here, and over the last seven Pocono events he’s finished 6th or better in six of them. Harvick has also finished 3rd or higher in eight of the last twelve Stages here at Pocono. The #4 Ford starts back in 9th and should challenge for at least a top 5, if not the win, so that should net 100+ points in Slingshot on Saturday.
Erik Jones ($10,600) – Yep… I’m coming back for more. Erik Jones has disappointed me time and time again this season, but at the same time, he posts some really good finishes–like his 5th-place results recently at Talladega and Bristol–to keep me coming back for more. But mark my words: if Erik Jones kills my lineup again on Saturday, I’m done with him for the rest of the year. Maybe. As far as Pocono goes, it’s actually one of Erik’s best tracks on the schedule. He does have a 28th-place finish to his credit here back in 2018 but the rest of his five career starts here have all ended with him in 8th or better. Four of those five ended with Jones inside the top 5. The #20 team pulled the 19th-place starting spot in the qualifying draw this weekend, but that just gives Jones the potential for an even higher Slingshot score with the place differential. He’s a top value play this week at just $10,600.
William Byron ($10,000) – Even if I don’t go with this exact lineup on Saturday for the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest, William Byron is going to be one of my picks no matter what. He’s been solid here at Pocono right out of the gate in the Cup Series, and in three of his four career starts here, Byron has finished 9th or better. Additionally, his two best finishes–4th last July and 6th in July of 2018–came when he started outside of the top 30 entirely. That’s impressive at a track like Pocono. This Saturday, Byron will roll off the grid from 16th but should challenge for a top 10 finish, which makes him a great value at $10,000. Momentum-wise, this #24 Chevrolet has finished 12th or better in five of the last six Cup Series races overall.
Clint Bowyer ($9,000) – Pocono is a track where you need a lot of horsepower to be successful, so all of the Fords are in play. We saw how strong they were at Talladega last weekend and that’s going to be the case here this weekend as well. As far as Clint Bowyer goes, he’s always been pretty solid here at The Tricky Triangle, and since joining Stewart-Haas Racing he’s finished 11th or better in four of his six starts at this track. As far as the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest goes, there’s quite a few decent options in this price range, but I don’t really trust rookies at a track like Pocono, and Matt DiBenedetto ($8,500) has never finished better than 17th at this track.
Chris Buescher ($7,600) – Over the last two seasons, Chris Buescher was able to drive his JTG Daugherty Chevrolets to three finishes between 14th and 17th in the four races here at Pocono, so now that he’s driving a Ford for Roush-Fenway, that should bump him up a little bit, right? That’s my line of thinking anyway. I debated going down and picking Michael McDowell ($6,700) in this spot but I think Buescher has a higher potential to finish between 12th and 15th on Saturday, so I’m going to roll with him. The only thing I don’t really like about Buescher right now is how this #17 team has been struggling to find speed, and he’s finished outside of the top 20 in six of the nine races since NASCAR returned from the COVID stoppage.