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M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 NASCAR DFS Preview: DraftKings & FanDuel Fantasy Racing Advice

Phillip Bennetzen

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NASCAR M&M's Fan Appreciation 400 NASCAR DFS Preview daily fantasy Pocono

Following Christopher Bell‘s victory in New Hampshire, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Pennsylvania for the M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono Raceway. Let’s dive into the track information NASCAR DFS drivers need to know, what to expect for this weekend’s running of the M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono and some early NASCAR fantasy picks.

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NASCAR DFS Preview: M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400

Pocono Raceway Information

  • Track: Pocono Raceway
  • Location: Long Pond, Pennsylvania
  • Length: 2.5 miles (asphalt)
  • Banking: 14 degrees in turn one, eight degrees in turn two, and six degrees in turn three
  • Best corollary tracks: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
  • Dominator Points:
    • DraftKings: 40 – laps led, 72 – fastest laps
    • FanDuel: 16 – laps led
  • Past winners: Kyle Busch (2021B), Alex Bowman (2021A), Denny Hamlin (2020B), Kevin Harvick (2020A)
  • Betting favorite: Chase Elliott +700
  • Entry List: 36 drivers, including J.J. Yeley (15), Noah Gragson (16), and Josh Bilicki (77).
  • Weather: High of 89, cloudy with storms forming later in the afternoon
  • Watch: USA
  • Listen: MRN (MRN, NASCAR.com, NASCAR Sirius/XM Channel 90)

On Track Schedule (All Times Eastern)

  • Saturday, July 23
    • 2:35 a.m.: practice and qualifying
  • Sunday, July 24
    • 3 p.m.: green flag (70/185/301 laps)

2022 M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 DFS Picks

2022 Points Standings

Then there were 14.

With a closing pass with 40 laps remaining, Christopher Bell was able to pass Chase Elliott and establish a firm four-second lead that he rode away into his first victory of the season. Considering Bell’s Xfinity career at New Hampshire, it’s no surprise that in two Cup starts for Joe Gibbs racing he’s gone second and first in back-to-back visits to Loudon. With his victory in hand, Bell now sits with 2,008 projected playoffs placing him currently in 10th ahead of drivers like Tyler Reddick and Kurt Busch while just trailing his teammate Kyle Busch by three points.

The fallout of this win now means that Martin Truex Jr., who led the majority of Sunday’s race and could have potentially won if not for the pit strategy antics that saw him get shuffled back in dirty air with around 100 laps remaining, is currently the last driver in the playoffs – via points. His cushion over 17th-place Kevin Harvick is sizeable though, currently 68 points. Meanwhile, the only other driver to be in the playoffs via points, Ryan Blaney, has an ever larger 105-point lead over the cutoff line. It’s uncanny how much different the playoff picture would look had Elliott not lost the lead late to Bell, or if Truex had led from start to finish. Instead of Harvick being down 60+ points to Truex, he would only trail Bell by 19 points – a much easier margin to overcome. Now Harvick is facing a “win or else” scenario with six races remaining. However, two of the races include road courses and of course, the regular season concludes at Daytona. However, that race opens up nearly the whole field to the possible “win and in” scenario and not just Harvick.

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NASCAR Pocono Preview

After racing around the one-mile oval in Loudon, New Hampshire, NASCAR heads to Pennsylvania for 160 laps around the quirkiest venue left on the NASCAR schedule. Pocono, or the Tricky Triangle as it will be referred to ad nauseam this Saturday and Sunday, is a 2.5-mile-long tri-oval with minimal banking in its three distinct corners and long straightaways. All three corners mimic other tracks either still or formerly on the NASCAR calendar (turn one — Trenton Speedway, turn two — Indianapolis Motor Speedway, turn three — Milwaukee Mile) and create a scenario where teams can’t set up their cars for the different corners. Traditionally, teams either decide to attack the straightaways with horsepower or choose one of the corners and hope that carries over into the other two.

Furthermore, for the first time since 1981, this will be the first time Pocono will not have hosted two Cup events in a season. Due to location and weather, the two Pocono races were held just a month apart and allowed teams to have a pretty solid idea of what to do with their vehicles going into the second race. This concept had flipped on its head to a degree the past two seasons as NASCAR experimented with making the two Pocono races back-to-back events with race one happening on a Saturday afternoon and the second race going down the following afternoon with inversion for the top 20 drivers, setting the field. Now, Pocono is a stand-alone event but there will be ARCA-Menards, Trucks, and Xfinity Series races to perhaps shed a light on Sunday’s M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400.

Tricky Correlation

Due to the complex and quirky nature of this venue, gauging expectations for Cup races was always very limited. Depending on how big a data set the DFS player was willing to consider, they could look at traditional three-year rolling averages and have at least six races to look at. However, this view got a little blurry the past few years thanks to inversion messing with how the field was set as opposed to traditional qualifying or the metric used to set the field in the first Pocono races in 2020 and 2021. Plus, there’s the fact that NASCAR shortened these back-to-back races so the past four events haven’t been the traditional 400-mile races that the Cup Series has had for the past decade or longer.

Yet, there was always the race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to dig up, a fellow 2.5-mile oval with long straightaways and minimal banking. Alas, that race has been replaced with the Indianapolis Grand Prix. So now Pocono truly is a standalone race. Considering the shifting that should occur, a slight nod could go back to this past Sunday at New Hampshire, but Pocono is more than twice the size of Loudon. If track distance is what matters, combing through road course data might shed a light on prospective drivers. However, that avenue feels like a way to get really lost in the noise and start worrying more about who can get in and out of corners better while turning a blind eye to the horsepower advantage teams will need in the long straightaways.

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Practice should shed some light and see how just inline the sportsbooks with Sunday’s race. As things stand, Chase Elliott is the prohibitive favorite at BetMGM with +700 odds followed by Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, and Kyle Larson (+800), while the foursome of Martin Truex Jr., Ross Chastain, Ryan Blaney, and William Byron all sit at +1000. So many drivers packed so tightly together suggests that BetMGM is leaning towards Elliott as he’s still riding his hot streak of four finishes of second or first, despite just a best finish of fourth in his last six trips to Pocono, but then again it could be a real toss-up with seven drivers all within +300 odds of him. Before Saturday afternoon’s practice sessions go down, it will be worth monitoring the price movement that occurs to see if some heavy bets, or just the field in general, show their hands in respect to an early favorite.

Thanks for reading to the end of this article! If you appreciate this free content and want to see more of it every day, you can help us out by sharing this article on social media! Looking for more NASCAR DFS picks content? We have loads of articles, data, DraftKings and FanDuel cheat sheets and more on the Stokastic NASCAR DFS home page.

Phill Bennetzen is a father, husband, and Catholic as well as a self-professed annoying fitness guy. Phill heads up NASCAR content at Awesemo.com. You can contact Phill by emailing [email protected].

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