Fantasy NASCAR rankings: Pennsylvania 400

by Eric McClung on August 4, 2012 @ 11:27:17 PDT

 


Martin Truex Jr.
With his win from the pole at Pocono in June, Joey Logano became the 14th consecutive driver to win after starting inside the top 20. In fact, only four drivers have managed to find Victory Lane after failing to start in the top 20 since the Cup Series began visiting the track in 1975. Track position will be a talking point throughout Sunday's race, and crew chiefs will employ a variety of strategies to help their driver get near the front. Of course, the easiest way to do that is to put down a fast lap in qualifying.

Granted, a strong qualifying effort isn't a requirement to finish near the front at Pocono, but it's tough to deny the correlation between the two. In the June event, five of the drivers that started in the top 10 finished there, and eight of the top-10 qualifiers finished 16th or better. Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne were to two exceptions, and Busch lost an engine early in the event while Kahne cut a tire and hit the wall after spending most of the race in the top five.

Looking at the top 10 qualifiers for Sunday's race, fantasy owners will find a nice mix of big names and potential sleepers. Four-time Pocono winner Denny Hamlin qualified on the outside of the front row, and he has to be considered one of the favorites. Last week's winner Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top 10, and after three straight fourth-place finishes at Pocono, he also looks like a strong option. Point leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start eighth, and he can be thrown on the short list of favorites, as well. He has three straight top-10s at the track, and he led the second-most laps of any driver in the June event.

Juan Pablo Montoya headlines the list of sleeper candidates after he grabbed the pole for Sunday's Pennsylvania 400. Although he has had a few strong runs at Pocono in his career, his pole-winning run was a bit of a surprise given his struggles in 2012. Unless you are desperate to try to make up some ground in your fantasy league, Montoya's risk probably outweighs the potential reward.

A safer option is Paul Menard. After wrecking his primary car in practice Friday, he struggled to get the backup dialed in. However, the No. 27 bunch appears to have things straightened out, and Menard qualified third. He started third in the June race at Pocono, as well, and parlayed it into a career-best ninth-place finish at the track. Menard has actually finished in the top 15 in four straight starts at Pocono and had back-to-back top-10s. Another solid run should be on tap.

One big name to avoid might be Tony Stewart. Even though he has been one of the most-consistent options at the track over his career, "Smoke" was average in practice and qualified a dismal 28th. A bad qualifying effort wouldn't be as concerning if not for his recent struggles at flat tracks. Stewart had to salvage decent finishes at both New Hampshire and Indianapolis, which are both tracks where he is generally a contender for the win. It looks like the defending series champ might be playing damage control again this weekend.

Rk
Driver
Car No.
Make Sponsor Team
Starting Pos
1
Jimmie Johnson
48
Chevrolet Lowe's Home Improvement Hendrick Motorsports
10
2
Denny Hamlin
11
Toyota FedEx Joe Gibbs Racing
2
3
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
88
Chevrolet Mountain Dew AMP Energy Hendrick Motorsports
8
4
Kasey Kahne
5
Chevrolet Farmers Insurance Hendrick Motorsports
4
5
Matt Kenseth
17
Ford Best Buy Roush Fenway Racing
7
6
Kyle Busch
18
Toyota M&M's Joe Gibbs Racing
20
7
Greg Biffle
16
Ford 3M Roush Fenway Racing
12
8
Mark Martin
55
Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine Michael Waltrip Racing
18
9
Tony Stewart
14
Chevrolet Office Depot Stewart-Haas Racing
28
10
Jeff Gordon
24
Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger Hendrick Motorsports
27
11
Joey Logano
20
Toyota Home Depot Joe Gibbs Racing
14
12
Brad Keselowski
2
Dodge Miller Lite Penske Championship Racing
31
13
Carl Edwards
99
Ford Subway Roush Fenway Racing
17
14
Paul Menard
27
Chevrolet Menard's Richard Childress Racing
3
15
Kevin Harvick
29
Chevrolet Budweiser Richard Childress Racing
21
16
Ryan Newman
39
Chevrolet U.S. Army Stewart-Haas Racing
9
17
Clint Bowyer
15
Toyota 5 Hour Energy Michael Waltrip Racing
19
18
Martin Truex Jr.
56
Toyota NAPA Auto Parts Michael Waltrip Racing
15
19
Regan Smith
78
Chevrolet Furniture Row Furniture Row Racing
11
20
Kurt Busch
51
Chevrolet Tag Heuer Phoenix Racing
6
21
Juan Pablo Montoya
42
Chevrolet Clorox Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing
1
22
Sam Hornish Jr.
22
Dodge Shell/Pennzoil Penske Championship Racing
25
23
Marcos Ambrose
9
Ford Stanley Black & Decker Richard Petty Motorsports
5
24
Jeff Burton
31
Chevrolet Caterpillar Richard Childress Racing
23
24
Jamie McMurray
1
Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing
16
26
Aric Almirola
43
Ford Medallion Financial Richard Petty Motorsports
13
27
David Gilliland
38
Ford MHP Front Row Motorsports
26
28
Bobby Labonte
47
Toyota Kingsford JTG Daugherty Racing
39
29
David Ragan
34
Ford 8-Hour Alert Front Row Motorsports
32
30
Landon Cassill
83
Toyota Burger King BK Racing
22
31
David Reutimann
10
Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing Tommy Baldwin Racing
24
32
Casey Mears
13
Ford GEICO Germain Racing
29
33
David Stremme
30
Toyota Inception Motorsports Inception Motorsports
36
34
Travis Kvapil
93
Toyota Burger King BK Racing
37
35
Josh Wise
26
Ford MDS Transport Front Row Motorsports
34
36
Tony Raines
36
Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing Tommy Baldwin Racing
42
37
J.J. Yeley
37
Chevrolet Max Q Motorsports Tommy Baldwin Racing
35
38
Scott Riggs
23
Chevrolet North Texas Pipe R3 Motorsports
33
39
Reed Sorenson
91
Ford Plinker Tactical Humphrey Smith Racing
40
40
Jason White
32
Ford C&J Energy FAS Lane Racing
41
41
Mike Skinner
98
Ford TRAQM.com Phil Parsons Racing
43
42
Mike Bliss
19
Toyota Humphrey Smith Racing Humphrey Smith Racing
30
43
Joe Nemechek
87
Toyota AM FM Energy NEMCO Motorsports
38

 

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About Eric McClung

Eric McClung has been profiled by the FSWA for covering the fantasy sports spectrum and is a two-time award finalist. He's also made several appearances in print and on radio. McClung began contributing to KFFL in 2008 and currently serves as one of KFFL's featured fantasy NASCAR experts.

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