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Statistically Speaking

Start or Park: Gander 400

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Pocono Raceway hosts their pair of races closer together than any other track.

Flat tracks are rhythm course, and with weather conditions typically within a narrow range, this track is prone to streaks. Last year, six drivers swept the top 10; four of them finished within three positions between spring and fall. Drivers who are going to be successful in the Gander Outdoors 400 are going to largely come from the ones who ran well in the Pocono 400.

Even so, two-day shows can be challenging to fantasy players. Decisions need to be made very quickly with both practices and qualification happening on Saturday. One of the keys to success this weekend will be entering the weekend with a good set of notes so that players are watching the right drivers.

Level 1

Start: One or two Dominators
The Dominators finished 1-2-3 in last year’s edition of the Pennsylvania 400. There is no reason to believe this year will be much different because they all finished in the top five again this spring. Getting them to lineup first through third is a feat that can be difficult to repeat, but unless something goes wrong, they are going to all finish among the top five.

Kevin Harvick has a slight advantage in both allocation management games and Draft Kings because he has momentum on his side from last week’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 victory and is highly motivated to get his first career win at New Hampshire.

Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. are virtually guaranteed to challenge for the win unless something unforeseen occurs.

Start: Brad Keselowski
Brad Keselowski’s six-race streak of top-fives cannot go unnoticed. Unless he is incredibly slow in Saturday’s practices, he is going to be many players’ choice for the fourth slot on an unlimited roster. In Draft Kings, he is only $9,400, which makes him the seventh-most expensive driver and puts him significantly above the average salary, but his odds are so much greater than most of the drivers listed below him that he cannot be ignored.

Park: Chase Elliott
Chase Elliott was one of our favorites this spring to finish in the top five at Pocono. He finished 10th, which was not a bad result by any stretch of the imagination. In games where he was rightly-priced, it made him a good value. That was his third consecutive top-10 on this track and it gives him a near perfect record in five races. He has only one top-five, however, and even with last week’s fifth-place finish at New Hampshire, it is likely that he will finish in the high single digits again. That is simply not enough to make him a favorite in Level 1

Level 2

Start: Aric Almirola
Aric Almirola has more momentum than he’s had all year. He’s had a car capable of winning the last couple of weeks. In fact, he thinks his No. 10 Ford was the best car – hand’s down – in the Foxwoods 301. It would be hard to disagree with him. Mistakes in the pit and on a restart still couldn't keep him from scoring a top-five on the flat track of New Hampshire. He should be able to repeat with a top-10 at the very least, and that will give him a second consecutive finish in that range on this track.  

Start: Matt Kenseth
It is still going to take some time for Matt Kenseth to score a top-10, but that is not necessary to make him a good value. As a Level 2 driver, he will be worth starting if he can get into the top 15. Kenseth finished 13th in the Pocono 400 in only his third start since returning from retirement. He was 15th last week on another flat track – and slowly, this team is getting better. The No. 6 is still reportedly experimenting, but so long as the parts and pieces stay intact, Kenseth has the skill to get the job done.

Park: Joey Logano
Joey Logano is on the cusp of being a Level 1 driver, and that raises expectations. He finished ninth this spring and had a fifth in the 2016 Pocono 400. Unfortunately, he has been 20th or worse in four of his last six attempts. That is remarkable for a driver who had such a dramatic victory in 2012 after bumping Mark Martin out of the lead. Since then, his record on this track has been so uneven that he has only an average finish of 16.5 in his last 12 Pocono races. 

Level 3

Start: Ty Dillon
Watch Ty Dillon very closely in practice. In five career starts on this track, he’s finished in the top 20 three times and 21st on another occasion. He had his worst-ever result this spring, but still finished in the top 25 (23rd). Compare his average finish of 19.4 to Logano’s 16.5 and then check out the difference in their salary cap. Winning on a weekly basis means managing the middle of the field just as much as it does selecting the winner.

Start: Kasey Kahne
Pocono is a driver’s track that puts a premium on experience. Enter Kasey Kahne. He has a great set of notes from his days with Hendrick Motorsports and top-15s in three of his last four races with that organization. We thought he would run well in the Leavine Family No. 95, but a broken transmission on lap 120 kept him from fulfilling that prediction. Fantasy owners in need of a bargain should roll the dice on Kahne.

Previous Start or Parks

Pocono 400 
Foxwoods 301 (New Hampshire) 
TicketGuardian 500 (Phoenix) 
Toyota Owners 400 (Richmond) 
STP 500 (Martinsville) 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.