NASCAR Cup Series: Best Bets for Sunday’s Pocono 400
Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports Pictured: Kyle Busch
Pocono Raceway, also known as The Tricky Triangle, is a large and very unique 2.5-mile tri-oval racetrack with its three turns modeled after turns at other tracks. Turn 1 is taken from Trenton Speedway, and Turn 2 is inspired by the corners at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (also referred to as the “Tunnel Turn” due to the infield entrance and exit tunnels that run below the turn). Turn 3 is taken from the Milwaukee Mile.
Because cars historically have trouble passing here, Pocono Raceway is not the most popular track among race fans looking for action. However, for bettors it provides one key advantage that makes Pocono one of my favorite races to bet.
Due to its size, it takes cars more than 50 seconds to complete a lap. As a result, cars running toward the front of the field can come down pit road, make four-tire pit stops, exit and blend back onto the racetrack without losing a lap.
As bettors, we can’t predict exactly what will happen on the track, but by using historical data, practice results, qualifying and other information, we can predict which cars will be fast. Do that enough over the course of an entire season, and you’ll make more than you’ll lose.
With that said, there is nothing more frustrating than having a car you bet dominate a race, only to end up falling short due to pit road penalties, loose wheels or getting burned by ill-timed cautions when making green-flag stops. At most racetracks, these issues put drivers at least one lap down and even more at shorter racetracks.
But at Pocono, drivers can serve penalties, make unscheduled pit stops or survive bad-luck yellows by remaining on the lead lap. This is a huge advantage for bettors by keeping fast cars in contention for both wins and cashing tickets.
Using historical results and data from Saturday’s very interesting practice session, here are three bets currently offering value:
Martin Truex Jr. +650
Based on qualifying results, practice speeds and talk in the garage, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch have the best cars heading into Sunday’s race. I know … shocker. However, their current prices make them difficult bets, especially when attempting to build out a complete card with multiple drivers.
As a result, my first bet for the race is Truex at +650. He won at Pocono in 2015 and was really good here last year, finishing sixth and third.
Truex has also shown plenty of speed since unloading in Long Pond on Friday, highlighted by a fourth-place run in qualifying and the fourth-best 10-lap average in Saturday’s practice session.
Kyle Larson: +800
If forced to make only one bet for this race, it would be Larson at +800. Larson finished second in 10-lap average in practice and also had the best average speed of the cars that ran 15 consecutive laps. Larson said he thinks Harvick is the only driver with a better race car, so this team believes it has a piece that can run in the top three and contend for the win.
Clint Bowyer +2800
While Larson is my favorite overall bet, Bowyer is my favorite longer shot. He finished sixth the last time the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series visited Pocono, so he certainly knows how to get around The Tricky Triangle. Bowyer also secured a ninth-place position on the starting grid and backed that up with the third-best 10-lap average in practice, indicating his car can lay down a fast single lap while also holding its speed over a long run.