NASCAR Props Challenge Picks for Sunday’s Pocono 400
Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: NASCAR Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick leads the field.
- NASCAR's Props Challenge game asks fans to answer 10 prop-betting questions each week, with weekly winners eligible for prizes.
- PJ Walsh offers his Props Challenge picks and analysis for Sunday's Pocono 400 (2 p.m. ET, FS1) at Pocono Raceway.
After two straight weekends at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) heads north to visit Pocono Raceway for the first time this season.
Last week we had the luxury of relying on results from other 1.5-mile racetracks this season to help make picks for Charlotte. However, Pocono Raceway, a flat 2.5-mile tri-oval, is unique compared to the rest of the racetracks on the MENCS schedule.
As a result, we don’t have much data to lean on since there truly aren’t any comps to Pocono. Therefore, I’ll be analyzing results from recent races at The Tricky Triangle to make my NASCAR Props Challenge picks for Sunday’s Pocono 400.
1. Three of the last four Pocono winners have started from inside the top four. Does the Pocono winner start from inside the top two rows?
While three of the last four winners have started inside the top four, just four of the last 10 races at Pocono were won from the first two rows.
2. O/U 34.5 race points for Clint Bowyer?
Seven drivers finished with 35 or more race points at Pocono last season, meaning we need to project Bowyer to be a top-seven car to take the over here.
Interestingly, Bowyer has the eighth-best average running position (ARP) at Pocono over the past two seasons, meaning he’s been very close to one of the best seven cars.
Still, he’s led just five laps over those four races and, as always, I have a hard time “expecting” performances good enough to go over when the data is this close.
3. Toyota has won the last three Pocono races. Does this streak continue?
Over the last four races at Pocono, Toyota drivers Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Erik Jones rank first, third and fourth, respectively, in laps led, with Busch and Truex combining for three wins.
However, I do think the new aero package is going to make drafting more prevalent, which should keep the rest of the pack in touch with the leaders.
Busch and Truex will certainly be in the mix for the win, but I’ll take the field here.
4. O/U 15.5 lead changes?
This is so tough because it’s recent track history vs. the new aero package. While the new package should result in more lead changes, there have been an average of just 13.25 lead changes since 2017.
I have to take the under here until this package proves me otherwise.
5. Which driver scores more race points at Pocono? Paul Menard or Ryan Newman?
Newman has bested Menard in every major statistical category over the past four Pocono races, including a better average starting position, average finish and ARP.
6. O/U 12.5 stage points for Chase Elliott?
An average of 3.5 drivers per race scored 13 or more stage points at Pocono last season.
Elliott should be plenty strong this weekend, but there are simply too many fast race cars from Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske to predict Chase scoring that many stage points.
7. Which two-car team will have the best finish at Pocono? JTG Daugherty Racing or Richard Childress Racing?
This shakes out to which driver between JTG’s Ryan Preece and Chris Buescher and RCR’s Austin Dillon and Daniel Hemric will have the best finish on Sunday.
Since Preece and Hemric are both MENCS rookies, there are no past results to analyze.
And between the two veteran drivers, Dillon’s ARP of 17.3 over the past four Pocono races easily bests Buescher’s ARP of 26.5.
8. O/U 2.5 drivers lead over 35 laps?
Just one driver led more than 35 laps in each of last season’s two Pocono races, but similar to question 4, this is hard to project as the new aero package is expected to keep cars bunched closer together, which should result in more lead changes.
But once again, I can’t expect three or more drivers to lead that much until I see it happen first.
9. Jimmie Johnson is tied for the most top-10 finishes at Pocono among active drivers with 20. Does he finish inside the top 10 on Sunday?
Since 2017, Johnson ranks just 24th in average finish (24.0) and 18th in ARP (18.3) among MENCS drivers at Pocono.
10. O/U 24.5 lead-lap finishers?
Last season’s races at Pocono averaged with 27.5 cars finishing on the lead lap.
Let’s lean on historical data once again here and take the over.