The Coca Cola 600 last weekend was one of the best in recent memory and NASCAR is hoping that trend continues this weekend at Pocono with the new rules package and the potential four-wide restarts at the “Tricky Triangle”. Before I jump ahead to this week it’s time to recap last week. Martin Truex Jr. had a rocket and the best car and won the race on an impressive final restart. He was in all of my lineups with his recent track record and if a few other things broke my way I would’ve finished top 100 in the big entry I was in, where I was running most of the race. Brad Keselowski won the first two stages and had a solid run all day securing a good finishing position despite spinning out late. If Hamlin didn’t hit the wall and finish in the late teens, I really would’ve been in great shape.
Now for Pocono this weekend. Of late it’s been all about Kyle Busch as he’s won 2 of the last 3 races and has a top 10 in the last 5 races. Kevin Harvick has been the best driver at the track to never win with a top 5 finish in 7 of the last 9 races at Pocono, could this be the weekend he finally breaks through for a win this year and at the track? Several active drivers also got their first career win at Pocono including Denny Hamlin, Chris Buescher and Ryan Blaney. Could this be the weekend Alex Bowman, William Byron or Daniel Suarez score their first win? They were all top 10 in speed in opening practice.
Pocono 400 Opening Odds
-Kyle Busch 3/1
-Kevin Harvick 9/2
-Martin Truex Jr. 6/1
-Brad Keselowski 7/1
-Chase Elliott, Joey Logano 10/1
-Denny Hamlin 12/1
-Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Larson, Kurt Busch 20/1
-Erik Jones, Jimmie Johnson, Alex Bowman 25/1
-Aric Almriola, Daniel Suarez, William Byron 40/1
-Austin Dillon 50/1
-Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Newman 100/1
Pocono DraftKings Picks:
Kyle Busch ($11,400): Busch is expensive yet again, but sometimes you have to pay up for top-tier talent. He’s going for 3 out of 4 at Pocono, was top 5 in both practices, starts 2nd and led the field in consecutive lap average. Yeah, pay up for Kyle Busch on Sunday.
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,900): Some might argue that Truex has usurped Busch in the power rankings after his performance last week and his 3rd win of the season. I’m not there yet, but Truex has a win and 3 top 10’s over the last 4 races and starts 20th. Find a way to pencil him in on Sunday.
Chase Elliott ($9,900): Elliott has 4 top 10’s at Pocono without a win to show for it. His teammate is on the pole and the Hendrick cars have speed in them. Starting 12th and in position for another top 10.
Kurt Busch ($8,800): Busch has 20 top 10’s in his 35 career starts at Pocono with an impressive 14.14 average finish. He was the fastest in final practice and rolls off 21st. Place differential chalk right there.
Alex Bowman ($8,500): I’m all over Bowman this weekend. After three straight runner-up finishes Bowman didn’t pack the same punch last weekend, but this could be his spot. We’ve seen several first-time winners there add to that the speed he and his teammates have and a 15th place starting spot and I’m locking him in. Dale Jr. swept both races at Pocono in this ride back in 2014.
William Byron ($7,600): Byron has his third pole this season and second consecutive. Chad Knaus has found something in that 24 car and they’re also on the cusp of their first win. It’s a little risky since he’s starting out front, but they were able to lead some laps last week and finish inside the top 10. Byron had a top 10 and an average finish of 12 at Pocono last year.
Value Picks: Chris Buescher ($7,300), Ryan Preece ($6,500), Daniel Hemric ($5,800), Bubba Wallace ($5,900).
Pocono 400 Winner Prediction:
Kyle Busch: I’m backing the favorite this week. His car unloaded fast and he’s got the starting track position to be out front from the start in a relatively short race at Pocono. He’s the best on restarts in the series and it’s hard to argue with those results and at a track he’s had so much success at, I’m not picking against the 18.