When the 2014 season began at Daytona, Kyle Larson was known as the rookie driver that replaced Juan Pablo Montoya for Chip Ganassi Racing driving a Chevrolet. After a 38th place finish at the Great American Race, he didn’t so much cause a stir. Four races later at Fontana California, Larson mowed down six of Sprint Cup’s best on a restart to finish second in only his fifth Cup race, and he got my attention. Fast forward to the first Pocono race, a track that only the best of the best have conquered and Mr. Larson led seven laps for the first time in his young rookie season and a fifth place finish.
Friday, when the dust settled over Long Pond Pennsylvania, it was the rookie Larson that got the treat over the “Tricky Triangle” to take his first pole in 21 qualifying attempts. It’s time this rookie gets a nickname. I’m calling him “Bulls-eye”. Larson is a must have on your salary cap team to get those precious points going down the stretch; get on the wagon!
The Penske teammates flexed their muscles again in qualifying, placing their Fords in second and third starting spots. Both drivers have been outstanding this year leading the Ford camp with five victories, combined. Logano has one win, three top fives and three top 10s during the past five years, besting his teammate’s record for the cowbell track.
Brad on the other hand, came up just short earlier this year when debris on his grill caused the one time champ to back off a bit so he wouldn’t overheat. Personally, I would have drove it like I stole it, since I had already qualified for the Chase. Both drivers still have an attractive price tag for that Chase stretch.
You can’t ignore Jeff Gordon for this race with the fourth best driver rating at Pocono. His 974 laps led for his career in Long Pond, Pa., is tops among all active drivers. His lifetime stats are impressive with six wins, 19 top fives and 30 top 10s. That equals to a big points day for your fantasy team.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the first Pocono race of the year, as he sling shot past Keselowski for the win. His record at Pocono is not shabby with one win, three top fives and six top 10s and an average finish of 12.3 the past five years. He’s borderline high on most fantasy games but he’s been steady in the points department, which is at a premium during this time of the year.
When Jimmie Johnson is on at Pocono, it’s usually lights out with his South Pole average finish of 6.8 the past five years. The #48 team has been quiet lately and I think his price might be too high for this race as the Hendrick team tries to propel the #5 team into The Chase.
Chevrolet leads in wins at Pocono(29) with Ford(21) in second place. Denny Hamlin has all four Toyota wins including a Pocono sweep his rookie season.
I would normally give Denny top billing at Pocono, but I’m hesitant with all the suspensions the team has to endure the next few weeks. Hamlin did say things wouldn’t change much with the team, but he’s been top 10 in four out of the last five races and his price is right, if anything else.
The top 10 starting spots produce the most wins at 69% with 15 wins coming from the pole and nine from the second starting position.
The deepest anyone has come to win at Pocono was in the spring of 2005, when Carl Edwards started 29th.
Goodyear is using the same tire compound from the last Pocono race, with the exception of one more pound added to the minimum tire pressure. Left side is D 4548 and the right side is D 4520.
There have been three green white checkers at Pocono with this track being notorious for phantom yellows.
Here’s my Ice Picks for Pocono:
Kevin Harvick- looks to rebound from the last Pocono race.
Dale Earnhardt Jr- he could do it again
Jeff Gordon- looks to improve on his last race here.
Ryan Newman- is solid at Pocono for a top 10 finish.
Brad Keselowski- should have won the last time here.
Denny Hamlin- he could win going away at along Pond.
Joey Logano- doesn’t have to worry about Morgan Shepard this time around.
Kyle Larson- Pocono is good to rookies and his got the pole.
Groupings are based on last years final points standing with rookie’s automatically grouped in the C List. Picks are based on who I think will give you the most points come Sunday. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Good Luck!