NASCAR America Fantasy League: 10 Best at Pocono in last three years

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Pocono Raceway is an oddity with three distinct corners and straightaways. Because it requires a lot of compromise to go fast, one might suppose experience would be a critical factor, but six drivers entered this week scored top fives in their first attempt.

Denny Hamlin was the best of these with victories from the pole in his first two tries in 2006, followed by Erik Jones (third in 2017), Jimmie Johnson (third in 2002), Chase Elliott (fourth in 2016), Kyle Busch (fourth in 2005) and Kyle Larson (fifth in 2014).

Notably, three of the six drivers who excelled in their Pocono debuts raced for Hendrick Motorsports at the time, so that suggests William Byron might be a good dark horse to include in this week’s NASCAR America Fantasy Live roster.

Pocono is also a track prone to streaks. Seven drivers swept the top 10 last year and three of them carried momentum over from the previous season. This is a track on which success is often predicted by success, so chose most of your lineup from the 10 drivers listed.

1. Erik Jones (three-year average: 5.50 in two starts)
Jones continued the tradition of strong rookies at Pocono in last year’s Pocono 400 with a third-place finish. He was eighth in the Overton’s 400 later in the year. It didn’t hurt matters any that Jones had the notes from his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Hamlin and Busch as a jumping off point.

2. Brad Keselowski (three-year average: 5.67)
Statistically, Keselowski is the best fantasy pick this week. He enters the week with five consecutive top-five finishes that includes a pair of runner-up finishes. He has struggled with three results outside the top 20 in the last seven weeks, but that means the competition is likely to ignore him – and an astute player can make up ground.

3. Matt Kenseth (three-year average: 8.33)
It is not yet time to consider that Kenseth’s track record is more important than the obstacles currently faced at Roush Fenway Racing. But there are two factors that make the No. 6 a little more appealing this week. Kenseth came close to cracking the top 15 at Charlotte and may be getting closer to finding a good race setup. Secondly, he has a knack for Pocono with five top 10s in the last six races.

4. Kevin Harvick (three-year average: 10.17)
Last week was a disappointment for NASCAR Fantasy Live players, but in all likelihood Harvick’s crash didn’t affect much since the majority of rosters had him activated. The key to success sat in the garage – if a player remembered to swap that driver before the end of the second segment. At Pocono, Harvick has a current three-race, top-five streak.

5. Daniel Suarez (three-year average: 11.00 in two starts)
Suarez finished 15th in last year’s edition of this race at Pocono. He improved to seventh in the Overton’s 400. Since his record includes only two races on this track, fantasy players have to place more emphasis on his recent momentum and he has five top 15s in the last six races of 2018.

6. Denny Hamlin (three-year average: 11.50)
Hamlin ran a clean race last week and was rewarded with a solid top-five finish. He needs to avoid mistakes for a little while longer before NASCAR fantasy players begin to trust him, but Pocono is a track he has dominated in the past. Hamlin should be watched closely in practice before making a final decision on whether to start him or place him in the garage.

7. Kurt Busch (three-year average: 11.67)
Busch’s Pocono record is actually a little better than it appears. If one disregards a crash-induced 37th in August 2015, he would have an average of 6.6 over the past three years – and he has not finished worse than 13th in five years. Busch’s appeal recently has been his consistency. The lack of a significant downside to starting him makes him a great selection for the garage this week.

8. Kyle Larson (three-year average: 11.67)
Pocono is not the type of track one usually associates with Larson since there is no high groove to manipulate in any of the corners, so a driver is left to fight and gouge at the bottom. Still, Larson had a perfect record of top-12 finishes to his credit before he developed a drivetrain problem last July and finished 33rd – 12 laps off the pace.

9. Ryan Blaney (three-year average: 13.00 in four starts)
If one throws out the high and low for Blaney, it is easy to predict he will finish about 10th. His rookie season produced a 10th and 11th-place finish. When he won his first Cup race on this track last July, expectations were raised, however, and a 30th in July spoiled a lot of rosters.

10. Kyle Busch (three-year average: 13.33 in four starts)
Sometimes a switch flips for a driver on a given track. That may be what happened to Busch last July when he won from the pole after being shut out of the top five at Pocono since 2011. For the record, he was leading in August 2015 when he ran out of gas with two laps remaining.

Bonus Picks

Pole Winner: Kyle Busch won both Pocono poles last year and has another in 2015. If he shows any speed at all in the first practice session, make certain he is activated

Segment Winners: Until their domination ends, the most obvious pick to win segment bonus points is Busch and Harvick. Keselowski demands a little attention as well, however, because he has been the third-most productive producer with four stage wins so far this year. If one wants a dark horse, last year’s winner Blaney has three stage wins to his credit in 2018.

For more Fantasy NASCAR coverage, check out Rotoworld.com and follow Dan Beaver (@FantasyRace) on Twitter.

Former NASCAR Chairman Brian France defends leadership style in interview

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Former NASCAR Chairman Brian France defended his leadership style when running the stock-car series and said in an interview with Sports Business Journal that he was working on leaving the sport before he was ousted after his DWI arrest in August 2018.

The interview with Sports Business Journal marked France’s first public comments since his arrest.

France became NASCAR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in September 2003, assuming the position from his father, Bill France Jr.

Brian France held that position until Aug. 6, 2018, when he took a leave of absence after his arrest for driving while intoxicated in Sag Harbor, New York. He was replaced by Jim France and did not return to NASCAR.

Brian France pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated in June 2019. As part of the agreement, he was required to complete 100 hours of community service and undergo alcohol counseling. If he completes those and does not run afoul of the law, his misdemeanor charge will be reduced to a non-criminal infraction in June 2020.

France told Sports Business Journal that he was actively talking to and identifying potential replacements before his arrest but did not go into detail.

France, who oversaw the TV deal with NBC and Fox that goes through 2024 and created the Chase/playoff format, defended his absence from the track during his reign. France did not attend every race and that became an issue in the garage, raising questions about how involved he was with the sport.

“I understand that kind of criticism, but there is no other sports league that gets any criticism like that,” France told Sports Business Journal of the time he spent at the track. “I’ve always found that a bit interesting that no one else asks another commissioner how many football games or practices he made.”

Jim France is at the track nearly every weekend. Brian France told Sports Business Journal that while his uncle attends more races to match his objective, “(it) didn’t match up with mine, so I had to take the criticism on my way to managing the commercial side.”

France, who endorsed Donald Trump for president at a Feb. 29, 2016 rally at Valdosta State University in Georgia, accompanied President Trump on Air Force One to Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, according to the pool media report.

Monday’s Daytona 500: Restart time, weather and more

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Let’s try this again.

After rain postponed Sunday’s race, Cup drivers will get back on track Monday at Daytona International Speedway to complete the Daytona 500. And the forecast looks very good for Monday’s race.

The race was halted after 20 of 180 laps with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. leading.

Here are today’s details:

(All times are Eastern)

RESTART: Command to fire engines at 4:02 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:12 p.m. 

DISTANCE: 180 of the scheduled 200 laps remain to be run on the 2.5-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 65. Stage 2 ends on Lap 130.

TV/RADIO: Fox’s broadcast begins at 4 p.m. Motor Racing Network’s broadcast begins at 4 p.m. and also can be heard on mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry MRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with a high of 73 degrees and a 3% chance of rain when the race resumes.

RUNNING ORDER:

  1. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  2. Joey Logano
  3. Aric Almirola
  4. Ryan Newman
  5. Kevin Harvick
  6. Brad Keselowski
  7. William Byron
  8. Jimmie Johnson
  9. Ty Dillon
  10. Timmy Hill
  11. David Ragan
  12. Chris Buescher
  13. Matt DiBenedetto
  14. Chase Elliott
  15. Ross Chastain
  16. Alex Bowman
  17. Kyle Larson
  18. Kurt Busch
  19. Austin Dillon
  20. Cole Custer
  21. Michael McDowell
  22. Tyler Reddick
  23. Ryan Blaney
  24. Bubba Wallace
  25. Reed Sorenson
  26. BJ McLeod
  27. Corey LaJoie
  28. Brendan Gaughan
  29. Ryan Preece
  30. Justin Haley
  31. Martin Truex Jr.
  32. Kyle Busch
  33. Erik Jones
  34. Christopher Bell
  35. Denny Hamlin
  36. Clint Bowyer
  37. John Hunter Nemechek
  38. Quin Houff
  39. Joey Gase
  40. Brennan Poole

Daytona 500 postponed to Monday

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The Daytona 500 has been postponed until Monday, NASCAR announced Sunday evening.

The race is scheduled to take the green flag at 4:05 p.m. ET Monday. The garage will open at 1:30 p.m. The race will air on Fox.

The wunderground.com forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with a high of 72 degrees and an 11% chance of rain when the race is scheduled to resume.

The race was scheduled to take the green flag Sunday at 3:18 p.m. ET but that was pushed back because of President Donald Trump’s participation in ceremonies before the race. He gave the command to start engines and his motorcade led the field on a pace lap. An extra pace lap was done to honor Jimmie Johnson, who is making his final Daytona 500 start.

As the field was set to take the green flag at 3:29 p.m. ET, rain in Turns 1 and 2 prevented the start. Rain fell throughout the track and led to a 51-minute delay.

When the race resumed, the field completed 20 laps before rain led to a caution at 4:36 p.m. ET. The field again was brought to pit road and the race was stopped. NASCAR told teams they could uncover cars on pit road at 6:18 p.m. ET but almost immediately there were reports of rain drops around the track. Drivers were called to their cars but never got in them. It began to pour around 6:44 p.m. ET. The race was called at 6:50 p.m. ET

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. led the opening 20 laps. He is followed by Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick.

Sixth through 10th is Brad Keselowski, William Byron, Jimmie Johnson, Ty Dillon and Timmy Hill.

This is the second time the Daytona 500 has been postponed by rain. It happened in 2012.

Daytona 500 once again under rain delay

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Rain has once again put a damper on the 62nd Daytona 500.

The race got through the first 20 laps of the scheduled 200-lap event before the yellow flag came out, sending cars back to the pits.

Pole Sitter Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and his Chevrolet has led all laps since the green flag fell. Fords make up the next five spots (Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski), while the highest Toyota’s driver — Martin Truex Jr. — is back in 31st place.

It was the second time rain has impacted the event. After seven pace laps, the start of the race was delayed for 51 minutes due to rain. Engines were re-fired at 4:14 p.m. ET

The race is airing on Fox.

We will keep you updated on the status of the race and when it resumes.