Dan Beaver

Statistically Speaking

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Update: Pocono (Spring)

Saturday, June 10, 2017


Practice got underway for the Pocono 400 on Friday and the two Kyles immediately established dominance.

Kyle Larson drew first blood with a lap of 177.312 mph, but he was not able to sustain that in qualification. He rolls off the grid seventh on Sunday. There might actually be some hidden good news in that because it gives him enough room to add some positive place differential points, as he is favored to score a top-five. He was back near the top of the charts in Happy Hour with a the third-fastest speed in that session.

Kyle Busch was second-fastest in the first practice session and unlike Larson he did not bobble in time trials. He leads the field to green on Sunday and that means he will not earn any positive placement points. However, he posted the fastest single lap in final practice and that makes him the best overall performer for the week.

Busch should be able to scoot out to a lead in the opening stages over outside pole sitter Martin Truex Jr., who was only 15th fastest in Happy Hour. Even if he paces the field for 25 circuits in the opening segment and then fades, his laps led bonus will offset and place differential.

Because Pocono Raceway is so long, only a handful of drivers posted 10-lap averages, but they were all significant. Kevin Harvick led the group with a 172.442 mph average that should come in handy since he qualified just outside the top 10 in 12th. Harvick takes to this tricky triangle in spells, but he has been mostly strong recently. He should be able to finish in the top 10 again this week, but the real question is going to be whether he fits into one’s salary cap.

Kurt Busch had the second-quickest, 10-lap. That is notable not only because he is Harvick’s teammate but also because he is the defending winner of this race. He finished 10th in the summer, but that race was interrupted by rain. He has four top-fives dating back to 2013 and will be one of the drivers that will have many fantasy owners asking, “where did he come from?”

Michael McDowell was one of seven drivers who made 10 consecutive laps in Happy Hour and while he landed sixth on the list, it is difficult to extrapolate exactly where he might have been in a larger field. He advanced to the final round of qualification and rolls off the grid 11th. That can be a double-edged sword because he is liable to finish in the high teens or low 20s, but he is rightly-priced in nearly every game and has a great price-to-points ratio.

A lot of attention is being paid to Darrell Wallace Jr. this week. He got off to a solid start on Friday with a top-20 speed in practice and the 16th-best lap in qualification. Instead of getting faster on Saturday, he faded to 27th on the speed chart, but he has 400 mile to figure out how to make the more powerful Cup cars compete.  



Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 12 years with a little help from his >500,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.
Email :Dan Beaver



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