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M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400: NASCAR Preview

NASCAR drivers return to the superspeedway circuit with the M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono.


Pocono Raceway

Track Length

2.5 miles

Track Type


Last 10 Track Winners:

  • Summer 2021: Kyle Busch
  • Summer 2021: Alex Bowman
  • Summer 2020: Denny Hamlin
  • Summer 2020: Kevin Harvick
  • Summer 2019: Denny Hamlin
  • Summer 2019: Kyle Busch
  • Summer 2018: Kyle Busch
  • Summer 2018: Martin Trux Jr.
  • Summer 2017: Kyle Busch
  • Summer 2017: Ryan Blaney

Last 10 Track Winners by Model

  • Toyota: 7
  • Ford: 2
  • Chevrolet: 1
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M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 Race Day Preview

Christopher Bell essentially locked himself into a playoff spot last week in New Hampshire, leaving two very lonely drivers sitting in the uncomfortable “points only” places for 2022. To put this in perspective, Kevin Harvick is currently ninth in overall points, yet he is 68 of them behind Martin Truex for a playoff spot.

Other sports that love to claim they have parity need to find themselves a NextGen car.

Last week, Brad Keselowski and Austin Dillon created their own little soap opera.

As a side note, I would spend a week with my grandparents every summer growing up, and they would always watch their “stories” like “Young & the Restless” or “Days of our Lives.” Someone should have mentioned that said stories get much more fun when they go 190 mph.

Seriously, watching Ross Chastain have to pass Denny Hamlin is more compelling than when Vivian buried Carly alive in 1993. Little me tuning in every day of the summer after returning from my grandparents’ house must have been quite the joy for my parents.

This week we head to Pocono Raceway for the M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400. The “Tricky Triangle” hasn’t proved to be much of an enigma for Kyle Busch, who comes into the contest as the overall favorite. Plenty of racing to be done, however, so let’s take a look.

Fantasy Drivers: The Contenders

Kyle Busch

The most recent winner at Pocono, Mr. M&M himself, has four career wins here and a driver rating of 118.3. He has recently had significant success at 2.5-mile tracks, finishing in the Top 10 in six out of his last eight races with two wins. While he has a win under his hood, it remains the victory-by-destruction on dirt at Bristol. I think there’s a high chance he wraps up a win at the M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 without needing a fortuitous accident.

Denny Hamlin

Hamlin has the highest rating at Pocono Raceway over the past few years and has five previous wins, dating back to 2009. The No. 11 car has been all-or-nothing this season, tallying two wins against four DNFs. He could win or finish in the 30s on Sunday, but he’s a good option if you believe in the former.

Martin Truex Jr.

If the Joe Gibbs Racing contingent can figure out how to run as a team in this one, all three of these drivers have a fair shot at winning. But only Truex NEEDS the win. A previous two-time winner at Pocono, the No. 19 car finished fourth last week and is trending in the right direction. He’s a legitimate threat for the M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400.

Fantasy Drivers: The Accelerators

Kevin Harvick

Speaking of needs, Harvick is finally developing consistency in the new cars, seemingly gaining better strategies as the weeks pass by. He has an incredibly high driver rating (109.2) and five Top 10 finishes in his last six races in Pocono. At this point, it feels like everyone who makes the playoffs will have a win, and perhaps, Harvick is peaking at the right time to sneak it out in Pocono.

Kyle Larson

What if I told you that Kyle Larson only as one win in 2022, and it came in the second race of the season? You would say that you could look this up and don’t need me to tell you. But Pocono was one of the few tracks he didn’t win in 2021, and his driver rating of 102.0 at the track makes him a threat. He’s trending in the opposite direction of Harvick, but good drivers will find a way to capitalize on their strengths. Look for him to compete at a high level on Sunday.

William Byron

A couple of months ago, I suggested we jump on the William Byron betting bandwagon as he looked downright unstoppable. He hasn’t finished higher than ninth in the 13 races since his dominant win in Martinsville and hasn’t run particularly well. He has four Top 10 finishes in his last six races here, and I feel like he is a sneaky good play for the M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400.

Fantasy Drivers: The Ryan Blaney Experiment

Ryan Blaney

Blaney carries a pedestrian 86.7 driver rating at Pocono Raceway, so rostering him will have much to do with his starting position. I can’t will him to win, just like I couldn’t will Carly to get out from being buried alive so I could get those hours of my life back 29 years later. I will probably fade him heavily on Sunday unless he qualifies in the 20s or lower.

Have a great couple of days, everyone! Feel free to hit me up on Twitter at @thewonkypenguin if you want to chat about racing, sports, or soap operas. I’ll be back Sunday.

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