Pre-Practice Notes: Pocono

I have a sinking suspicion that Kasey Kahne’s qualifying record is going to get shattered this weekend at Pocono Raceway.  The refinished race surface was tested back in April and the Cup Drivers that participated posted speeds that beat Kahne’s record of 172.533 mph by more than 2+ mph.  Fantasy NASCAR owners will get a better glimpse of what racing on the new asphalt looks like again on Wednesday and Thursday. NASCAR has scheduled two days of testing for the Sprint Cup teams, and I love the approach Carl Edwards is taking.

“I want to make sure we pace ourselves and learn as much as we can during the testing time we have,” Edwards said. “With a new surface, there is a huge opportunity for someone to figure something out and dominate. We want to be those guys. We don’t want to go out there and have some preconceived notion. We are going in with open minds and hoping we can master that surface and take advantage of the unknown there.” – Carl Edwards

This is this same mentality Fantasy NASCAR owners need to adopt this week.  While historical data if often enough to be competitive, there will be an extra 9.5 hours hours of testing data at your disposal.  Seeing as how 47 of the 68 winners at Pocono have started from the Top 10 (13 from the Pole), I would pay careful attention to the additional testing and regularly scheduled practice sessions before you select your fantasy drivers. You can go to Jayski’s Silly Season Site to get this week’s testing schedules and practice results.

Denny Hamlin & Jimmie Johnson are the only 2 active drivers with an average finishing position inside the Top 10 at Pocono.  Photograph: Jason Smith/Getty Images

I am also placing a greater emphasis on starting up front this year’s race because there will be 40 fewer laps for drivers to gain track position on Pocono favorites Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson. These two drivers have combined for 6 wins and their average finishing positions, of 9.7 and 9.0 respectively, are the best amongst active drivers.  I recommend using both as your A Drivers this week in Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing.

My Pre-Practice Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing Team for Pocono:

A: Denny Hamlin #11– Hamlin has 4 career Cup wins at Pocono.  He has 8 Top 10 finishes in 12 starts.  He is the preliminary GoPro Favorite to win Sunday’s race.

A: Jimmie Johnson #48 – Last week’s winner has 2 Cup wins at Pocono.  He 14 Top 10 finishes in 20 career starts.

B: Mark Martin #55 – Martin has 27 Top 10’s including 17 Top 5’s in 50 career starts, but he has never won at Pocono.

B: Kasey Kahne #5 – Kahne has 1 win and an average finishing position of 8.9 in 16 Cup races at Pocono.  Kahne finished 9th last week and has now finished 10th or better in his last 7 Sprint Cup races.

B: Clint Bowyer #15 – Bowyer has 5 Top 10 finishes in 12 Cup series starts on the 2.5 mile track.  If he’s strong in practice, Bowyer could build on the momentum he gained from finishing 5th at Dover.

B: Ryan Newman #39 – Newman has 7 Top 5 finishes including 1 win in 20 races at Pocono.

C: Bobby Labonte #47 – In 38 starts at Pocono, Labonte has 9 Top 10 finishes including 3 wins.

C: Casey Mears #13 – Mears has 3 Top 10 finishes in 18 career starts.

Pocono Raceway Sprint Cup Race Stats

If you have any Fantasy NASCAR questions please email me at or find me on Google+ and Twitter @GoProFS24.  I will update my rosters on Saturday after this week’s qualifying and practice results. Remember “If you ain’t first, you’re last”.