LONG POND, Pa. — William Byron will start from the Busch Pole for the second straight week in Sunday’s Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway (2 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Does the young star offer the upside worthy of a spot in your Fantasy Live lineup? We’ve dissected the numbers to offer a suggested lineup worthy of your Fantasy Live consideration.
RJ Kraft’s Fantasy Live lineup for race day at Pocono:
1. Brad Keselowski
2. William Byron
3. Erik Jones
4. Chase Elliott
5. Kyle Larson
Garage: Denny Hamlin
Cars to the rear: Matt DiBenedetto (No. 95, engine change)
Analysis: So I’m switching out half of my original lineup for Pocono but the main theme here is about conserving usages. I hadn’t planned on playing Kyle Busch or Kevin Harvick and I’m not veering from that — though, the bonus picks will attempt to give me some points production from one of those drivers. Out of my original lineup are Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr. and Alex Bowman. Truex is starting 20th and with passing expected to be difficult, I want somebody with a better starting spot. I really weighed playing Blaney or Bowman despite their qualifying spots outside the top 12. I just think there’s better value to be had based on my usages with some other plays.
Keselowski, Elliott and Jones were in my original lineup. Based on the 10-lap averages of Keselowski and Elliott, their Pocono histories and the starting spot/history at Pocono for Jones, I feel good to stick with those three. The additions to my lineup start with the pole sitter, Byron. He’s qualified well of late, I have plenty of uses available and I feel like he can provide me with a solid source of stage points in Stage 1 — and we’ll see from there. Larson is more of hunch based on a good qualifying spot (seventh), solid history at Pocono and I just like the weekend stats from him more than Blaney or Bowman. I see a greater upside with that play. Hamlin gets my garage spot because he’ll start in the top six and I have the uses with him. The Pocono numbers haven’t been great for him of late but I think it’s worth the gamble. I gave Clint Bowyer significant consideration for this spot, as well.
For the bonus picks, I think strategy could throw some wrinkles here but to cover my bases since I am trying to save a use — we’ll take Kyle Busch for everything.
Each week in this space, we’ll also highlight two Props Challenge items for players.
1. O/U 12.5 stage points for Chase Elliott. I’m still going over here. I realize he’s starting 12th, but I think he has one of the better cars based on 10-lap averages and he has a solid history at this track. He earned 19 stage points starting sixth in last year’s second race at the track. Given the roll he’s been on a late, I like trying to ride the wave with the Hendrick driver in this prop.
2. Toyota has won the last three Pocono races. Does this streak continue? I am a full-fledged “yes” on this based on my bonus pick of Kyle Busch. But I also like Jones and Hamlin’s chances to run up front, as well. While Truex is starting in the back half, he is the defending race winner. In fact, I’ll double down on this prop and the winner coming from the front two rows prop and take “yes” on both.