This weekend we have the Pocono Doubleheader! On Saturday will be the Pocono Organics CBD 325 and then on Sunday they’ll line them up and do it again with the Explore the Pocono Mountains 350. Teams will have to use the same car and engine for both races, and Sunday’s starting lineup will be determined by a top 20 invert from the results of Saturday’s race (more on that in the video). Lately, Pocono has been a great track for both Joe Gibbs Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing, who each have their own bit of struggles going on right now. Adding to the uncertainty is that we haven’t raced at Pocono or a track similar to Pocono since last summer, and a lot has changed since then. In case you missed it, RotoDoc and I discussed this on our new podcast, Stacking Dennys, and you can listen to that by clicking here.
Another dominating performance last weekend means Kyle Larson will start on the pole again this weekend, and he will have teammate William Byron alongside, starting 2nd. You can click here to see the starting lineup for Saturday’s race to see where everyone else will line up. Now let’s get to the picks!
*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.*
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Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest Picks for Pocono Saturday
Chase Elliott ($12,200) – Thanks to his disqualification at Nashville last weekend, Chase Elliott will be starting from 29th for Saturday’s Pocono race, which obviously makes him a great place differential pick in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. As far as track history here at Pocono, I wouldn’t say Chase has ever been the flat-out guy to beat (maybe in 2016, when he led 51 laps), but he’s finished top 10 in seven of his ten career starts here, which are basically the seven races he didn’t have any issues mid-race. My algorithm has Chase predicted to finish 8th on Saturday but he has top 5 potential.
Denny Hamlin ($11,800) – Speaking of the algorithm…Denny Hamlin is projected to win his first race of the season this Saturday by it! It’s super close in the Power Index between him, Larson, and Harvick, but not too many people will be surprised if Hamlin ends up in victory lane this weekend. Dennis is a six-time Pocono winner in the Cup Series and has really put up some dominating efforts in his career here. Currently, he’s on a five-race streak of top 10 results at “The Tricky Triangle,” and with him starting 10th on Saturday, there’s some decent place differential upside as well for Slingshot players.
Ryan Blaney ($10,600) – I’ll preface this by saying I don’t think Ryan Blaney is a guaranteed top 10 finisher here at Pocono on Saturday, but with him starting 27th and being only $10,600 in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest, it’s hard to pass up that opportunity for so many place differential points. As far as track history here at Pocono, Blaney actually has a win here (back in 2017 with Wood Brothers Racing) but since joining Team Penske he’s been about a 10th-to-12th-place car. Still, a 12th-place finish out of Young Ryan Blaney–which is the position my algorithm thinks he’ll end up on Saturday–would still equal 98 points in this Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest.
Kevin Harvick ($11,300) – This weekend, especially the first race on Saturday, is going to be a good indication of where Stewart-Haas Racing is at right now, because the Ford engine has always been strong at Pocono, and this team overall has always been strong at this track as well. Harvick finished 1st and 2nd in the doubleheader here last year, and has finishes of 6th or better in all but one of his last nine starts at this track. He’s going to roll off the grid from the 3rd starting spot on Saturday, which is what makes him so risky in this Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest, but if there’s any week that Harvick and company finally show up and compete for a win, it’s going to be this weekend.
Daniel Suarez ($7,400) – There are a couple of drivers I really like in this price range, one being Ross Chastain ($7,600), who we talked about extensively on the Stacking Dennys podcast this week (click here to listen). And while I definitely still love Chastain as a sleeper on Saturday, he’s starting 6th, which makes him just a tad too risky for me with the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. Another guy who is also risky but gives you a little more of a safety net is the driver starting 14th: Daniel Suarez. If these Chevrolet engines are, in fact, the strongest this season, Suarez could grab a top 10 (or two) here at Pocono this weekend. In his six career non-junk-car starts at “The Tricky Triangle,” Daniel has four top 15s and three finishes of 8th or better (including a 2nd here in 2018 with Joe Gibbs Racing).
Erik Jones ($7,100) – Don’t be surprised if Erik Jones grabs a good finish or two here at Pocono this weekend. There have been two tracks on the circuit that have been awesome for EJ and they are Darlington and Pocono. In eight career starts at “The Tricky Triangle,” Jones has finished 8th or better in six of them, and three of his last four starts here have ended with him inside the top 3. Now, all of those starts were when Jones was with Joe Gibbs Racing or the quasi-JGR team, Furniture Row Racing. However, Jones and this #43 team are starting to find their (relative) groove, and now have five finishes of 19th or better in the last six races. Don’t count out Jones for a mid-teens finish on Saturday, and maybe even a sneaky top 10 depending on how the race plays out. Still, though, he’s risky because of the mediocre equipment he’s racing.
“Race Winner” Pick = Kyle Larson – The guy has finished 1st or 2nd in seven straight Cup Series races, six of which were points-paying events. Larson doesn’t have a win here at Pocono, but he does have three Stage victories from his Chip Ganassi Racing days, as well as six finishes of 8th or better in 12 career starts, including a 2nd-place result here in 2018. The algorithm doesn’t have Larson ranked #1 outright this weekend, but he’s right there at the top. The #5 Chevrolet will be a contender on Saturday, and more than likely Sunday, too.