Pocono 400 Betting Odds, Picks: Best Bets to Win at Pocono Raceway
Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: NASCAR Cup Series driver Brad Keselowski (2) at Pocono Raceway.
- The Pocono 400 will get underway on Sunday (2 p.m. ET, FS1) at Pocono Raceway with Kyle Busch as the favorite (+250) at the Westgate..
- Nick Giffen shares his thoughts on where to find some value among the field.
NASCAR heads to Pennsylvania’s Pocono Raceway for 400 miles at the Tricky Triangle (2 p.m. ET, FS1). This marks the first of three races this year at a 2.5-mile flat track, with the other two races coming at Pocono again in July, and at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in September.
Under the 2019 aero package, expect restarts to be wild with the draft coming heavily into play. However, after the cars get past the first handful of laps, passing may become difficult, according to Martin Truex Jr.
That doesn’t mean a car can’t come from the back of the field to the front. Since 2005, nine drivers have won from a starting position of 12th or worse in 28 races, while nine drivers have won from the front row.
Pit strategy frequently comes into play at Pocono, and as an extra wrinkle, there is a 50% chance of rain starting at 11 a.m. local time and lasting all the way through the evening. That means racing could be hard and aggressive after the second stage, and strategy could come into play even more than normal.
One major factor I’m looking at is practice. During the Gen-6 era of 2013 to present, 10 of the 12 Pocono race winners have met at least one of the two following criteria:
- Final practice 10-lap average inside the top five
- Single-lap speed averaged over all practice sessions inside the top eight
With all that said, here are two outright value bets to win the Pocono 400.
Brad Keselowski +800 to Win
Keselowski opened +700 at Westgate, but is now +800 despite solid practice times and a good qualifying result. In fact, Keselowski and Kyle Busch appear awfully similar on paper in regards to on-track results this weekend, but you get Keselowski at a bargain.
In opening practice, Keselowsi and Busch ran 21 and 22 laps respectively, with each driver’s fastest lap coming between laps 15 and 17. In final practice, Kyle Busch ended up with the fastest 10-lap average, while Keselowski was second, with each driver making his 10-lap run at the start of the session.
Keselowski and Busch are the only two drivers that meet both of the practice criteria in the introduction, making them my two lead drivers to win. Additionally, they’ll both start inside the top five, so early track position will be in their favor.
Moving on to track history, Kyle Busch has the better Pocono results in the low-downforce era of the Gen-6 car, but Keselowski actually has a better average finish, more laps led, and more fastest laps than Busch at Pocono in the high-downforce era (2013-2015).
Certainly Kyle Busch should be the favorite to win, but Keselowski will probably be in the mix barring any major issues or strategic mishaps. I’d bet Keselowski down to his opening line of +700.
Ryan Blaney +2000 to Win
Like his Penske teammate, Blaney’s odds have dropped at the Westgate since opening lines were posted. However, there are more interesting details to Blaney’s line movement. He was bet down from +2000 to +1800 before any track activity took place.
After two strong practice sessions — he was second-fastest in opening practice and then posted the second-fastest 10-lap average in Happy Hour among drivers who’s 10-lap time came later in the session — he was displayed at +1600 at the Westgate.
Thanks to a mediocre 17th place qualifying effort, Blaney dropped to +2500 and has since been bet back to +2000. I loved Blaney at +2000 prior to the weekend, and I haven’t seen anything that makes me change my mind on him.
Blaney’s two best Pocono finishes came in the first Pocono race in 2017 (first) and 2018 (sixth), when he had his two strongest practice showings of his career at the track. This weekend, he’s equaled or bettered his previous practice ranks.
Blaney is a former Pocono winner who has shown plenty of speed this weekend, easily met one of the practice criteria, and missed the other by a single position. With strategy in play, I love this longshot bet. There’s value here down to +1800.
Keep an eye on the weather leading up to the green flag. If reports look like there is a strong possibility of a rain-shortened race, a long-shot driver has a chance to win. This is not without precedent at the Tricky Triangle. Chris Buescher won in 2016 as a 1000-1 underdog in a fog-shortened race.
It should be stressed, these types of winners are extremely unlikely, but if weather is in play, and things break right, a very small bet on these plays is a lose-small, win-big proposition. I wouldn’t make these bets until we get a clearer picture of the race-day weather, but if a race-shortened race is a real possibility, here are two long-shot drivers I like as weather gambles.
- Ryan Newman 200-1: Newman’s best track type is the flat tracks, especially in the higher downforce era of 2013-2015. Seven of his 16 top-five finishes during that time came at flat tracks. Six of his past seven wins have been at the flats, including a win at the other 2.5-mile track, Indianapolis, in 2013. He has the best driver rating and flat track average finish of all drivers listed at 100-1 or longer. Newman is notoriously hard to pass in a race where passing should be difficult should he wind up out front on a strategy play.
- Daniel Hemric 500-1: Hemric has never finished worse than ninth in the Xfinity series at the 2.5-mile flat tracks of Pocono and Indianapolis. He has the best average single-lap speed from the two practice sessions among all drivers listed at 200-1 or longer.
It looks like the race should get started but rain is still possible later, so a rain-shortened race is a real possibility. That means I like small plays on Newman and Hemric.