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|His daughter Genevieve Marie was one of the only things|
that slowed down Jimmie Johnson at Pocono in June. (Getty)
When it comes to predicting a NASCAR winner, you can't triangulate anything with the stars. Sorry, celestial fans. But, when the Sprint Cup Series visits Pocono Raceway (the Tricky Triangle), it's time triangulate for success.
Let's break out our version of an astrolabe. (I'll wait while you Google search that. Don't worry, I needed to as well.) We'll do our best to locate a few good selections for Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing rosters this weekend.
As referenced throughout the introduction, this track is a triangle. It's unique in that it has three distinct corners and no turn four. It's 2.5 miles around and will race somewhat like Indianapolis Motor Speedway last week due to a relative flatness when compared to other tracks.
It's that time of year when we start doubling up on tracks. Throughout the first half of the season, I talked about how the Gen-6 would be a question mark. Aside from Daytona, which is a total wild card, Pocono is the first track where the Sprint Cup Series will race for a second time. The key now is how the teams apply what they learned from the first go in the Gen-6 and build a car that's ready to win in the return to the track.
This track is so big that cars spread out and it's very hard to make up a lot of spots. Track position will be key, and from that standpoint, fantasy managers should pick the drivers that they expect to roll off the haulers the fastest. Bad luck will have less impact on the outcome than most other tracks.
- #14 Tony Stewart - Smoke has been inconsistent lately. He has five top-fives in the last eight races, but finishes in the 20s in the other three. Keep in mind that one of those poor outcomes was here at NHMS, when he ran out of gas while running second. I still consider him to be on his summer hot streak and he has 21 top-10s in 29 Pocono starts.
- #24 Jeff Gordon - Like a little kid making too many s'mores, this guy seems to like to play with fire. For the second year in a row, Gordon's Chase hopes are on the line late in the season, and last year, he used a Pocono win to leverage a Chase berth. He has six wins at the track and needs number seven to put himself in a position for the 2013 postseason.
- #48 Jimmie Johnson - The No. 48 has been on rails all season and dominated Pocono in June, en route to a win. It's hard to go against Johnson in this one.
- #11 Denny Hamlin - I know I pick on the poor guy each week, but Pocono is historically a great track for him. It's also the site of his last top-10, and he's had six finishes of 18th or worse since.
- #39 Ryan Newman - Fresh off his milestone win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in his home state, Newman is a good choice. He has a 12.0 average finish at Pocono and finished fifth there earlier this year.
- #55 Mark Martin - The rose is off the bud for Martin. After a strong season last year, he has just four top-10s in 14 races this season. However, it's hard to ignore the 20 top-fives in 53 Pocono starts, which gives him an 11.2 average finish at the track.
- #78 Kurt Busch - I'm not going to try to figure out if I think he'll make the Chase or not, as that outlook changes weekly. What I can say is that he's finished 14th or better in eight of the last 10 races and got taken out with a dominant car here at NHMS in a ninth event. Consider that he has two wins and nine top-fives in 24 Pocono starts and you can justify starting him.
- #99 Carl Edwards - It's always hard to justify starting such a consistent driver at a track where he has less than 50% of his finishes in the top-10 (eight of 17). But, his 13.5 average finish is seventh in the field and third among B-list drivers.
- #16 Greg Biffle - The Biff finished second at Pocono in June and looked great, but I'm hesitant to steer the bandwagon. He only has five top-10s in 21 races that the track; that's a pretty dubious number.
- #18 Kyle Busch - With just six top-10s in 17 Pocono starts, the younger Busch is not a good choice at the track.
- #13 Casey Mears - Why? The question is more like: why not? There's literally very few other options. (Sorry I can't be more helpful here, but I have a hard time recommending Tony Raines or Joe Nemechek.)
- #51 AJ Allmendinger - At the beginning of the season, I thought The Dinger would be a good choice when he started, so as to save allocations on others. As he continues to get the nod in the No. 51, it appears that he might actually be someone that you'll need more than nine times. That said, there's nothing worth starting on the C-list, so he's one of the best options yet again.
- #17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - He continues to be the class of the C-list despite not having earned a top-10 in 20 starts this season. However, it's unlikely he breaks through this week after finishing 26th at Pocono two months ago and not worth the risk.
Drivers are listed by car number and not necessarily in rank order.
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