As was to be expected at Talladega Superspeedway, it was a race that would inevitably come down to an overtime finish. Kevin Harvick would get the jump on the restart, leading the first two laps. However, during that final lap, Ryan Blaney would make a sharp pass on the outside of Harvick, giving Blaney the race lead. Ricky Stenhouse Jr would then give Harvick a hard bump and run, and then make his pass on the outside.
It would come down to a photo finish between Blaney, Stenhouse Jr, and Aric Almirola. Blaney would beat Stenhouse Jr by mere inches, for his second straight Talladega victory in the Cup series. Harvick would end up finishing in 10th place after all the shuffling on the last lap. Almirola, Denny Hamlin, and Erik Jones would round out the top five finishers. With this win, Blaney joins both Penske teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski, as early Chase qualifiers.
As we move on from the infamous Talladega Superspeedway and head out to the Pocono Hills. This weekend will be one of those rare doubleheaders, with races both on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Pocono Raceway is a unique triangular shape track, which in fact models each turn after a different turn used at another racecourse. Sometimes referred to as the tricky triangle, it has three separate infield sections.
So without further ado, let’s delve into the driver options for this upcoming cup series event. I’ve broken down the selections between dominators, and value plays. Best of luck to everyone with their lineups.
Kyle Busch (11,000 DK 13,500 FD)
It’s not been one of Rowdy’s better recent seasons overall. However, Busch has been quite strong at Pocono over the last four seasons and needs to be considered as a high-end selection for Sunday. In Busch’s past three race’s here, he has won two of them. He has also been a demon when it comes to pilling up laps led, having led 50 or more in five of the last six Pocono meetings.
Should Busch be drawn among the first few rows for Sundays starting lineup, he can always help you pick up extra points in other ways. Which includes points through laps led, fastest laps, and possible race win. Pocono has proven to be one of his best tracks, and I expect a lot of him this weekend as he tries to get himself back into race form.
Brad Keselowski (9,600 DK 11,400 FD)
The consistency has certainly been there for Keselowski, this season. Outside of his 19th place finish last week at Talladega, Keselowski has finished outside the top 11, just twice this season and one of those instances was in fact back in February. Keselowski now comes to one of his best tracks statistically in Pocono.
Its a track in which he has four top-three finishes in the past nine attempts, along with seven top-fives. I also expect him to be a strong bet to pick up some extra bonus points through laps led, when you consider that Keselowski has led laps in the past five Pocono races. He’s quite affordable when you compare to some other dominators this Sunday. It’s only going to be a matter of time until the No. 2 driver finally hits the bullseye.
John Hunter Nemechek (6,100 DK 6,500 FD)
Nemechek proved to be an absolute bargain last weekend at Talladega, moving himself up from a 20th place starting position up to the eighth-place finish. He would rack up 53.3 Draft King points, beating the likes of Logano, Jimmie Johnson, and Martin Truex Jr. Nemechek has some solid recent success at Pocono as an Xfinity driver, having produced a top 12 place result here last June, after starting out in the 23rd position. He would also have a top-seven finish at Pocono the year previous.
Erik Jones (7,400 DK 10,000 FD)
After three straight top 20 finishes, Jones would finally manage to break through last Sunday at Dega. To be fair to Jones, he would have a strong run the week previous at Homestead-Miami. That was until an unfortunate blown tire late, would take him out of contention. Jones now returns to Pocono, a track in which he would finish second and third respectively last season. He’s run a total of six races here, with a career driver rating of 102.2. Currently 17th in the point standings, Jones is going to need to start putting together some quality runs. I expect Jones to come out and build upon his top-five result at Talladega, as he is still very much on the bubble for playoff contention.
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