We have a doubleheader of action on tap at Pocono Raceway this weekend, and things kick off Saturday afternoon with the Pocono Organics CBD 325. The 2.5-mile, low-banked track is known for its massive straightaways and triangular layout, but when it comes to deciding a winner, restarts and pit strategy could rule the day.
When assembling NASCAR DFS lineups, we also need to keep in mind the relatively short distance of Saturday's opener. It only takes 130 laps to reach the 325-mile distance, so we are dealing with a limited number of points in the dominator categories. You will still want to roster some drivers who will run up front, lead laps, and contend for the win, but studs who are starting towards the back, like Chase Elliott, become some of the top plays.
Pocono is also a track where I don't mind taking fliers on midrange drivers who are starting deep in the field, especially in my GPP lineups. There could be some mid-pack drivers who steal solid finishes between the wild restarts and the potential for pit strategy and track position to trump raw speed.
Kyle Larson ($12,500 DK, $14,500 FD)
Larson takes his ridiculous hot streak to Pocono this weekend, gunning for a fourth straight win and seventh straight finish of either first or second. He has been gobbling up dominator points along the way, and since he will start from the pole Saturday, I don't see that changing. He has to be considered the top dominator candidate.
Chase Elliott ($11,000 DK, $11,000 FD)
His disqualification at Nashville has him starting 29th, putting Elliott in a perfect position to earn the most place differential points of any driver. He had logged four straight top-3 finishes before the DQ, and he has six top-10s in his last eight Pocono starts, including a fourth-place run in the second race last year when he gained 21 spots.
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,700 DK, $12,500 FD)
Truex is set to start 15th on Saturday, but he has six top-10s in the last eight Pocono races, cracking the top-10 and leading laps in both events last year. Truex has three top-3 finishes in that same stretch, and outside of an engine issue, he hasn't finished outside the top 15. At worst, he should gain a handful of spots and finish in the top 10, and a top-5 run with some dominator points is certainly possible.
Ryan Blaney ($10,200 DK, $10,300 FD)
His crash last weekend has him rolling off 27th, but Blaney always seems to deliver solid results at Pocono. He finished in the top 5 in three of the four stages during last year's doubleheader, and he has finished 12th or better in eight of his last 10 starts at the track overall. Blaney offers one of the highest floors in Saturday's opener.
Denny Hamlin ($9,700 DK, $13,500 FD)
Hamlin was the runner-up in the first Pocono race last year and picked up the win in the second leg of the doubleheader. He has two wins and a 2.5 average finish in the last four races here, leading double-digit laps in three straight starts. Rolling off 10th, Hamlin should be able to gain a few spots while also chipping in some dominator points. You can trust the six-time Pocono winner.
Alex Bowman ($8,600 DK, $9,500 FD)
Bowman has shown a ton of speed at the 550-horsepower tracks this season as the rest of the Hendrick drivers. He has also been running well overall, heading into Pocono, logging four top-10s and posting a 7.4 average finish over the last five races. Bowman should at least challenge for a top-10, and a top-5 is on the table. I like his floor and his upside for a midrange price.
Chris Buescher ($8,000 DK, $7,000 FD)
He has finished 16th or better in three of the last four Pocono races, and Buescher picked up a top-10 here in the first race a year ago. He has also been a consistent top-15 option at the 550-horsepower tracks this season. Starting 25th, he is a safe bet to move forward and post a solid score.
Ryan Newman ($5,800 DK, $5,300 FD)
Newman has been one of the steadiest performers at Pocono throughout his career, and over the last 10 races, he has compiled a 14.8 average finish. He has seven top-15s in that span, and he has just one finish outside the top 20. Starting 19th, Newman should at least break even in the place differential category, and he is dirt cheap at both DFS sites.
Kyle Busch ($10,000, $13,000 FD)
He has eight top-10s, including three wins. In his last nine Pocono starts, Busch has led 50+ laps five times over that stretch. Granted, he hasn't been able to lead laps consistently this season, but he should have a chance to make some noise when he starts in the top 5 at one of his best tracks. Keep him in mind as a contrarian dominator.
Kevin Harvick ($9,300, $12,000 FD)
His Pocono resume is second to none, and after finishing first and second in the two races here last year, he has seven finishes of fourth or better in his last nine starts at the track. Harvick has led double-digit laps in five of the last six Pocono races. By starting third, he will certainly be in a position to jump out front Saturday. He hasn't piled up dominator points this season, but this could be a track to gamble on a breakout run from Harvick.
William Byron ($9,000 DK, $11,500 FD)
Byron has emerged as a weekly top-5 threat in recent weeks, and in six career starts at Pocono, he has four top-10s and a 9.7 average finish. He will also start from the front row, so he will be in a great position to click off some fastest laps, if not lead a few laps. Byron is a sleeper contender for the win with the upside to be one of the top dominators. Consider using him in place of Kyle Larson or as an aggressive play alongside Larson.
Aric Almirola ($7,300 DK, $6,500 FD)
It has been a miserable season for Almirola overall, but he has still managed decent results at flatter tracks, posting a 7.0 average finish between Phoenix, Richmond, and Nashville. He has also been strong at Pocono, logging top-5s in both races last year and finishing 12th or better in five of his last six starts. His differential upside is limited from the 11th starting spot, but he has a legit shot at a top-10 Saturday. Use him as a cheaper pivot to Alex Bowman or Chris Buescher.
Matt DiBenedetto ($7,100 DK, $8,200 FD)
DiBenedetto has cooled off dramatically in recent weeks, but he put together a pair of solid runs at Pocono last year. He gained eight spots and finished 13th in the first race, and he logged a sixth-place finish in the second leg. DiBenedetto earned points in all four stages in those events, so his results weren't a fluke. Rolling off 21st, DiBenedetto is someone to keep in mind if you are fading the obvious place differential-based plays.
NASCAR guru Brian Polking has been committed to producing Fantasy NASCAR coverage for nearly a decade and written countless articles for his devoted audience who swear by his advice year after year.