Daily Fantasy NASCAR: Current Form, Track History, and Betting Odds for the Pocono Organics CBD 325
Pocono is part of a dying breed of tracks, and it makes predicting who will be fast this weekend more of a chore than usual.
Pocono is what's classified in my database as a "big, fast" oval. These are the non-drafting two-plus mile ovals where speed reigns supreme.
We just don't have any data from those tracks this year.
In the past, we've been able to lean on races in Pocono, Fontana, Michigan, and Indianapolis to decide who had the ponies to push for a win. Fontana's being converted into a short track, Indianapolis will be run as a road course this year, and Michigan has its lone date in August. What was once a track type that featured six or seven races per year is down to just three, two of which are this weekend.
To complicate matters even more, this track type is not -- and has not been -- a part of the playoff picture. Certain teams (Joe Gibbs Racing this year, specifically) sell out in focusing on tracks including during the 10-race playoff run. Not only is Pocono not in the mix, but there aren't any similar tracks there, either. Even though there are plenty of points to be racked up this weekend, it's unlikely many teams are placing a heavy emphasis on running well at Pocono above all else.
So, we don't have any track-type-specific form, and we don't know who's going to push hardest. What, exactly, should we look at this week?
It's just about raw speed, baby. We're going to zero in on what teams have done in the 550-horsepower package so far in 2021. If they've been competitive there, it means they've got giddy-up, and that's what will help you get to victory lane in Pocono.
The first five races in the current form section are the five races at non-drafting tracks that have used the 550-horsepower package this year. The previous five races were all at 1.5-mile tracks, so you can see each driver's results-based marks on the Racing Reference fantasy tool.
The other race included in current form isn't that current at all. It was last year's race at Indianapolis. This is a long time ago and took place during a different season, but it felt important to at least pull in another race at a similar track. Indianapolis is easily the closest comp to Pocono, which is why it was included rather than Michigan or Fontana. Given the differences from year to year, we should value the Indy data a good amount less than the 550-horsepower races this year.
As always, the data listed is each driver's average running position rather than their finish. Denny Hamlin ($13,500 on FanDuel) in that aforementioned Indianapolis race provides a good example of why. Hamlin was leading with less than 10 laps to go when he cut a tire and hit the wall, ending his day early. There, his fifth-place average running position is a better representation of his speed than his 28th-place finish.
The other data listed is each driver's starting position, FanDuel salary, and win odds at FanDuel Sportsbook. The win odds are in fractional form, so Kyle Larson ($14,500) being listed at 2.25 means he's +225 to win.
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||$7,500||125||7||12||19||14||15||16||35||13||19||16||23|
|Martin Truex Jr.||$12,500||10||15||14||9||9||7||5||36||10||8||7||24|
Larson's +225 for a reason. His worst average running position in our 550 races so far is fifth. He has led almost 700 more laps than anybody else in this span. Yowza.
Larson works for DFS as an assumed winner, and you should use him. Our core for tournaments, though -- as discussed in this week's track breakdown -- should be drivers starting further back who can scoop place-differential points during the race. Two prime outlets there seem to be Chase Elliott ($11,000) and Ryan Blaney ($10,300).
Elliott hasn't mopped up like his teammate, Larson, but he clearly has speed. He enters with two straight top-fives in the 550-horsepower package, including a runner-up behind Larson in Charlotte. The Hendrick cars broadly struggled on the big, fast tracks last year, but Elliott did finish top-five in the second Pocono race and had a sixth-place average running position in Indianapolis, so it isn't a big enough concern to throw us off him.
As for Blaney, he actually got his first career win at Pocono back in 2017. He hasn't had a top-five since, but he did lead 21 laps in the second race last year before contact with Kyle Busch ($13,000) hurt his aerodynamics and ruined the strong run. Blaney won Atlanta and had a top-eight average running position in Las Vegas and Kansas, so he clearly has enough speed to be worth prioritizing as a mid-range play on Saturday.
One value play who stands out is Chris Buescher ($7,000). Buescher ranks 13th in aggregate average running position in the 550-horsepower package this year but will start back in 25th. His best runs have come at tracks with heavy tire falloff, and Pocono is not that, but he did finish 10th in the first race here last year. Buescher is technically a past winner at Pocono, though that race was cut short due to fog. The appeal in him stems exclusively from what he has done this year, which is impressive enough on its own.