The rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for Sunday. The order is not based on the highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by the value of each driver.
The DraftKings NASCAR Cup Series M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono slate locks at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday.
1. Kyle Busch ($10,600) — There’s a very good chance that last season’s Pocono results are irrelevant due to the Next Gen car. However, it is worth mentioning that Busch was the runner-up in the Saturday Pocono Cup race and the winner of the Sunday Cup race.
2. William Byron ($9,200) — Top-5 laps can be skewed because some races have more laps than others. My statistical creation, Real Rating, adjusts for this. Byron had a big race at a 400-lap Martinsville race, but that does not skew the Real Rating stats and the Real Rating says Byron is the No. 1 driver this season. That stats do not lie.
3. Chase Elliott ($10,100) — No one is hotter than Elliott. Every summer, the heat turns up and Elliott goes on a hot streak. Keep riding the hot hand.
4. Denny Hamlin ($10,400) — Early in his career, Hamlin was one of the best at Pocono. After the track was repaved, he struggled. The track has aged and Hamlin is back, as evidenced by his wins in 2019 and 2020.
5. Christopher Bell ($8,900) — The JGR Toyotas are on top in the Cup Series, and an argument can be made that Bell is leading the way. Bell participated in the Pocono tire test in May. He could make it two in a row this week.
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6. Ryan Blaney ($9,400) — New Hampshire was disappointing but by the end of qualifying any learned DFS player knew Blaney was no longer in play. A bounce back is believable. Blaney scored his first career Cup Series win at Pocono in 2017.
7. Kyle Larson ($9,800) — With practice being limited this week, teams are guessing the setups like it’s 2020-2021. Last season, crew chief Cliff Daniels chose wisely. Larson recorded the most fast laps despite only leading the fourth-most laps in the first Pocono race.
8. Ross Chastain ($10,000) — His 2019 Truck Series win at Pocono does not indicate that he will be fast this week. That win is not completely irrelevant. Chastain led nearly every lap and passing was virtually impossible in that race. That’s Pocono racing and that’s the key takeaway.
9. Joey Logano ($9,600) — Team Penske missed it last week. They unloaded slow and with short practices, you’ve got what you’ve got. For all intents and purposes, there isn’t any practice this week. It will be tougher for DFS players to discern if Penske guessed the wrong setup again. It will be tough but not impossible.
10. Martin Truex Jr ($10,300) — The pressure is building for Truex to get a win and squeeze into the playoffs. He’s running well and his car is fast, but last week was a perfect example of how so many things have to go right to win in the Cup Series.
11. Alex Bowman ($8,100) — When Kyle Larson blew a tire in the final turn, Bowman was gifted the win in the first Pocono race. The win was not a complete fluke, but Bowman owed his track position to pit strategy.
12. Kevin Harvick ($9,000) — The No. 4 SHR Ford is putting it all together. New Hampshire was almost Harvick’s breakthrough win last week. Pocono could be the week. All Harvick needs is track position at the beginning of the race.
13. Kurt Busch ($8,500) — It sure seems like the 23XI team and JGR are working closely together. In the last five races at non-plate track ovals, Busch has finishes of 10th, second, third, 31st and first.
14. Aric Almirola ($7,800) — Three drivers participated in the Pocono tire test in May: Bell, Almirola and Daniel Suarez ($7,900). Practice is going to be very limited this week, but if any of these drivers top the charts or start inside the top 5, then it can be assumed that the teams figured something out during the test.
15. Todd Gilliland ($5,300) — New Hampshire was Gilliland’s ninth top-25 finish in a row. In the 15 non-plate races this season, Gilliland has 14 top-25 finishes (93%)
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