This is the second time we’ve been to Pocono in the last two months. When NASCAR races twice at the same track in a year, the races come close together on the calendar in cold weather climates such as Pocono. So here we are back after eight weeks after our last race. Here is our “Off the Hauler” article from that race in early June.
Let’s dig back into that article since much of the data will be the same, with the addition of the June race.
Here were my Front Runners – Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The driver chart for Jimmie Johnson is below. I had him in my lineups. With him starting 7th he was expected to run up front all day long. Although he didn’t lead any laps he was running solidly in the Top-5 all race long until a crash on lap 124 dropped him to a 35th place finish and thus sunk a pile of lineups.
The driver chart is below with the other drivers tabbed as front runners for the June race. There is a key at the bottom detailing who each driver is.
Kurt Busch (Green)- Got to the lead by lap 130 and led 32 laps total before capturing the checkered flag.
Dale Earhardt Jr (Red)- Started 9th, raced most of the race in the Top-10 before finishing 2nd.
Kyle Larson (Black)- A rather impressive race from Larson because he dug his way through the field all day after dropping all the way to 39th on Lap-30. He finished 11 giving him a place differential of +10
Denny Hamlin (Blue) – He had a disappointing race after a very positive race history at the track. He started 10th and finished 14th and was never a threat to contend in the race.
GPP Plays – Kurt Busch was listed as a GPP along with Ryan Newman. Starting 22nd Newman finished 12th giving him a tidy +10 place differential and 32 points for a 12th place finish.
Lets talk about Chase Elliott. From the 7th race of the season in Texas to the 15th race at Michigan, Elliott had a stretch of nine races where he finished 12th or better and had six Top-5 finishes. The last five races however have been rough for the rookie driver with only one Top-20 finish.
Returning to Pocono where he had such a strong race could get Elliott back into a solid position heading into the Chase. Starting 13th Elliott worked his way into the Top-5. By Lap-20 he put himself in contention for the win. He led a race high 51 laps before finishing 4th.
Discussion of his ownership this week is an interesting one. If you look at recent form, Elliott is a guy you will stay away from. If you look at track history, albeit it just one race, Elliott had the best race of the season at Pocono. He will be in play for me, especially if he has a strong week before the race (qualifying/practice times).
Tyler will dig into the Pocono numbers more later this week, but briefly looking at where the winners of the race start from over the last seven years the winner has come from the front row three times in the last 15 races. The race has been won from the 3rd through 5th row six times.
Check back late in the week for a numbers analysis, race-day picks and a podcast, with our projections found here.