For the first time this season, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is taking a break from ovals, as drivers are set to compete in Sunday’s Axalta presents the Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway.
Set within the woodlands of Long Pond, Pa., The 2 1/2-mile “Tricky Triangle” is one of the sport’s most unique tracks. It’s also one of the longest, making fuel strategy particularly important for drivers and their teams. Predicting which crews will conquer the triangle can be difficult, which is where we come in.
Whether you need help picking an A-List driver who has a shot at winning, or an up-and-coming C-List racer who could help steal you some points, we’ve got you covered. Here are the drivers you should give seats to, and the ones you shouldn’t, for Sunday’s race:
Must pick: Martin Truex Jr.
The new leader in the Cup standings, Truex has been a machine this season. The Furniture Row Racing driver has finished in the top 10 in nine of 13 races, including two victories. The No. 78 team has been particularly hot recently, as Truex hasn’t finished outside the top tree in nearly a month.
He won this race in 2015 and, if it weren’t for a run of bad luck, might have done the same last season. With perhaps the exception of Jimmie Johnson, Truex is the safest A-List driver in the sport right now.
Stay away: Danica Patrick
Listen, there aren’t many good weeks to start Patrick, but this week might be the worst. Pocono’s been a house of horrors for the No. 10 team, as Patrick has an average finish of 30 at the track for her career.
And don’t be fooled by her top-10 finish last week at Dover International Speedway. Patrick had a lot of things go her way at the end of the race, which is something fantasy players obviously can’t bank on. Among all B-List drivers this week, she might be the most dangerous play.
Sleeper pick: Kurt Busch
Since starting his season with a victory in the Daytona 500, Busch has been woefully inconsistent. But this has all the makings of a great week for the No. 41 team.
Busch has won at Pocono three times in his career, including a victory in this race last year. If you’re looking to save starts for some of the elite B-List drivers, you should take a flyer on Busch.
Value pick: Ty Dillon
The No. 13 team almost won at Dover on Sunday, and they’ve been running particularly strong lately. Dillon might not have the C-List upside of Erik Jones, but his floor arguably is safer.
He finished 18th and 21st in his first two races at the triangle, and could easily find his way into the top 15 this weekend. It’s probably smart to save your Jones and Daniel Suarez starts for later in the season, and Dillon easily is the next-best option.
Thumbnail photo via Matthew O’Haren/USA TODAY Sports Images