Via inversion, Chris Buescher and Michael McDowell are on the front row for Sunday’s bookend of this weekend’s double-header at Pocono Raceway. Thus, let’s quickly dive into strategy and the top NASCAR DFS plays for the Explore the Mountains 350.
Explore the Mountains 350 NASCAR DFS Strategy
Saturday’s race played out a lot like a road race. Meaning, there were a plethora of pit road strategies used for a relatively short event. These variations in game plans led to no one main driver leading the majority of laps. This same scenario should be the expectation for Sunday’s race.
Coincidentally, this plays into the optimal DFS strategy based on this starting grid. Via the inversion, lots of drivers have access to place differential. As dominator points get deemphasized based on what was witnessed on Saturday, the two constants to build lineups on are place differential and finishing position points.
In large-field tournaments, DFS players can play around with dominator options upfront, on DraftKings like Buescher, or Martin Truex Jr., to get differentiation away from chalky place differential builds. Practically any driver starting eighth or higher should see single-digit ownership. Thus, these drivers provide amazing leverage if people are willing to take chances on these pivots.
That said, in cash games, single-entry, three-max, or really just most tournament lineups should be based around place differential and potential to finish within the top five or top ten.
The Chalk in the Rear of the Field
Five of Sunday’s potentially highest-owned drivers will start in the 30s. However, it’s for good reason as these drivers have access to the safest floors of anyone on the slate, thanks to their starting positions.
- Matt Dibenedetto, 32nd ($8,200 FanDuel, $8,100 DraftKings)
- Ross Chastain, 33rd ($6,000 FanDuel, $7,700 DraftKings)
- Corey Lajoie, 36th ($4,500 FanDuel, $5,900 DraftKings)
- Ryan Newman, 37th ($5,300 FanDuel, $5,500 DraftKings)
- Cole Custer, 38th ($5,500 FanDuel, $6,800 DraftKings)
Notwithstanding, do not treat these drivers like it’s a plate race and just jam them all in. These five all make great plays in cash and should definitely be used in tournaments. However, these five are not marching in unison to the front. Thus, feel free to use these five but mixed and matched with drivers starting higher with more upside to actually win.
For cash games, the priority play of these five drivers is Newman, thanks to his price tag and then Custer. Chastain becomes the driver of emphasis in tournaments thanks to the early speed the 42 had before hitting the wall. Granted, Chastain will be in a new car come Sunday, but the 42 team had the setup down pat.
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The Contenders in the Middle of the Field
This is your top-six from Saturday, inverted to start 15th through 20th on Sunday. These were the best cars and drivers in the first Pocono race. Consequently, they should be the most likely to compete for the victory on Sunday.
- Kurt Busch, 15th ($8,500 FanDuel, $8,500 DraftKings)
- Ryan Blaney, 16th ($10,300 FanDuel, $9,200 DraftKings)
- Denny Hamlin, 17th ($13,500 FanDuel, $10,500 DraftKings)
- William Byron, 18th ($11,500 FanDuel, $9,000 DraftKings)
- Kyle Busch, 19th ($13,000 FanDuel, $11,000 DraftKings)
- Alex Bowman, 20th ($9,500 FanDuel, $8,700 DraftKings)
Unlike the group above, it’s impossible to jam all six of these drivers into a single lineup. Thus, priority will have to be given to these drivers over one another based on salary, place differential, finishing position upside, and finally, likelihood to gain dominator points. Among these six, in cash games, Bowman should be the first driver in. Following Bowman comes his Hendrick teammate William Byron who showed plenty of speed to threaten Sunday. As per tournaments, the leverage play may be to pay up for Kyle Busch. The 18 team had the pit strategy to match with a fast car, and it nearly paid off for Busch as he led the most laps on Saturday. With that same car, he should be a threat to win once again.
Sidenote: the drivers from this and the first group should be all needed to build a cash lineup. That’s eleven drivers with floor and ceiling combos that will be hard to beat. Word of warning, though, due to the chalkiness of this slate, avoid playing multi-entry cash games to avoid trains.
The eleven drivers just highlighted will soak up a majority of Sunday’s ownership. Thus, to find differentiation, DFS players will either need to roster drivers who will gain points via nothing but dominator points or make pivots off the above drivers to similarly priced drivers. Considering how the top ten has shaken out, only one driver really stands out as a dominator, and it’s Martin Truex Jr. in third. Even then, the 19 car did nothing to garner attention on Saturday and save for the driver in the car, there’s nothing that stands out above rostering Truex versus Buescher, McDowell, Christopher Bell, or Aric Almirola.
Thus, in tournaments, there are pivots who may be starting too far forward for most DFS player’s taste. For example, Tyler Reddick starts 10th and will see a sliver of Cole Custer’s ownership at $100 more on DraftKings. The scenarios are few where Reddick outscores Custer. However, with the ownership discount Reddick will have, it may be worth pivoting a few lineups from Custer to Reddick. If Reddick carries too much risk, then Austin Dillon offers safety and upside at a similar price to both Custer and Reddick, starting 21st.
Another option will be getting off Ryan Newman and pivoting to Erik Jones, who is $200 more on DraftKings, starting in the 22nd position. Should Newman’s backup car be a clunker, Jones can easily outscore Newman just by picking up a few spots relative to his starting spot.
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