One down, one to go! Kyle Larson should’ve won again on Saturday at Pocono, but a blown tire late gave his teammate, Alex Bowman, the win with Kyle Busch finishing 2nd and William Byron coming home 3rd. NASCAR will line the cars up (top 20 inverted) and do it all again on Sunday, and most drivers will be going to battle with the exact same cars (except those that got permission from NASCAR to bring a backup car out). In other words, we know who will be fast on Sunday.
As far as backup cars go, as of Saturday evening, the following drivers will have a backup car for Sunday’s race: Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman, Ross Chastain, Cole Custer, Anthony Alfredo, Ryan Preece, and Corey LaJoie. When it comes to damaged cars, I personally think it’s better for a team to get a backup car out than run a partially damaged car from the day before. These backup cars are basically carbon copies of the primary anyway.
Again, a top 20 invert was done to the finishing positions from Saturday’s Pocono race to give us the top 20 starting spots for Sunday’s race. Those who finished 21st through 38th on Saturday will start in those positions on Sunday. Chris Buescher is on the pole and you can click here to see the starting lineup for Sunday’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 Sunday
Kyle Busch ($12,000) – Something happened on Saturday at Pocono that hasn’t happened for a long time: Kyle Busch was really happy with his race car. He turned that happiness into a 2nd-place finish, and honestly it’s not going to be surprising if he challenges for the win yet again in Sunday’s race at “The Tricky Triangle.” Everyone has been saying for the last two years that Rowdy just needs practice to get back to his “normal” self, and that’s basically what he got with Saturday’s race. Kyle has six top 5 finishes in the last eight Pocono races and should make it seven of the last nine on Sunday. Hell, he might even grab his fourth career win along the way.
Denny Hamlin ($11,800) – Last year with the back-to-back and doubleheader races, we saw teammates make significant strides day to day. On Saturday, Kyle Busch had the best Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota at Pocono. There’s no doubt he’s going to be strong again, and again is a great Slingshot pick starting back in 19th, but I’m more a tiny bit more intrigued with Denny Hamlin. He starts in 17th, and if you listened to his post-race interview, he was more than confident that the #11 team could make the right adjustments overnight to get Hamlin into victory lane for the first time this season. Denny now has five straight top 6 finishes at Pocono, by the way. I love pairing up the two JGR teammates on a Slingshot roster for Sunday.
William Byron ($10,900) – The #24 Chevrolet was a top 5 car all day long on Saturday and Byron ended up finishing 3rd after his teammate, Kyle Larson, blew that tire late. That means Willy B will start from back in 18th on Sunday, and for a Slingshot driver priced under $11k with solid place differential and top 5 finishing potential, this is a no-brainer. Byron has now finished 9th or better in five of his last six Pocono starts with the only exception being a 14th in last year’s first race.
Ross Chastain ($7,600) – On Saturday evening, Bob Pockrass confirmed that Ross Chastain will go to a backup car for Sunday’s race, which makes him a great Slingshot pick in my eyes. Like I said before, I’d rather see a team pull out a backup car than head back out there with a partially wrecked race car, and even though Chastain will have to drop to the rear on the start of the Explore the Pocono Mountains 350, he’ll officially be scored from 33rd, so there’s a ton of place differential upside there. This #42 Chevrolet was a solid top 10, and maybe even a top 5 contender on Saturday before Ross’s day went to hell.
Cole Custer ($7,300) – It was an early race for Cole Custer in Saturday’s Pocono event, and that’s because Brad Keselowski put him into the wall on lap 13 and ended Custer’s day. So now, on Sunday, the #41 Ford will start from dead last (38th) and have no way to go but up. Now, the word “safe” and “Cole Custer” have no reason to be even close together with this 2021 Fantasy NASCAR season, but for the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest, he’s safe. Even just a 25th-place finish on Sunday will give Custer a good score for his price in this game, and don’t forget he will have a “brand new” (backup) car to work with while everyone else is using their Saturday car.
“Race Winner” Pick = Kyle Larson – This guy is just incredible. Larson once again should have been in victory lane here at Pocono on Saturday but a blown tire on the final lap relegated him to a 9th-place finish. He will officially start and be scored from 12th in Sunday’s race, but will have to actually start from the rear because the #5 team will be bringing out the backup car. Losing that initial track position isn’t great, but Larson will still be a contender for the win again on Sunday and has decent place differential upside as well, so he’d be a great Slingshot “roster pick” as well.