Odds for NASCAR race at Pocono: Expert picks & favorites to win Sunday's Cup Series raceSporting News — (Tom Gatto)
Picking a winner for Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway is a little easier after watching the series run 325 miles on Saturday in the first event of a weekend doubleheader at the Tricky Triangle.
The top two finishers Saturday, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin, were about 15 seconds ahead of third-place finisher and polesitter Aric Almirola at the checkered flag. They should not be bothered by having to start 20th and 19th, respectively, because of Sunday's top 20 lineup spots being set by inverse order of Saturday's results.
Further, teams will have to run the same cars Sunday that raced Saturday, with mostly minor adjustments, unless they need to go to backup cars if the primary cars sustained too much damage. They'll have to start at the rear of the field Sunday if they go to backups or make major changes Saturday night. Teams that excelled in Race 1 may find conditions favorable on Sunday, too.
Below are the complete Vegas odds to win Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono, plus our top three picks of drivers who could end up taking the checkered flag.
NASCAR race odds to win at Pocono
Harvick's win Saturday was his first at the Tricky Triangle in 39 career races there. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver tied Hamlin with his third win of the season and the Cup Series points lead, and now he has the confidence that comes from finally conquering a track.
Hamlin's team, meanwhile, sounded ultraconfident about its driver's chances Sunday as the opener drew to a close. "We will win Sunday," came across on the 11 car's radio. Hamlin second-guessed himself for his driving strategy on the white-flag lap, but he also acknowledged it would have been difficult to pass Harvick, who grabbed the lead after crew chief Rodney Childers called for a two-tire stop late in the race to gain track position.
Below are the complete odds to win Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono, courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.
|Driver||Odds to win Pocono race|
|Martin Truex Jr.||+1000|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||+8500|
|John Hunter Nemechek||+20000|
Recency bias? Yes and no. A top-five car plus late strategy and smart driving equaled a win for Harvick. Hamlin is a five-time winner at the track and is seeking redemption. Almirola led the most laps Saturday (61) but will roll off 18th on Sunday after finishing third because of the inversion of the top 20.
The pole position, which for Sunday's race was awarded to Ryan Preece based on his 20th-place finish, has produced the most Pocono race winners in the Cup Series. Sixteen of the 85 races (18.8 percent) have been won by the driver who started first.
Below is the breakdown of wins from varying starting positions in the history of Cup racing at Pocono (85 races through Saturday).
|Starting position||Winning %||Wins|
|Front row||30.59 percent||26|
|Top 5||57.65 percent||49|
|Top 10||71.76 percent||61|
|Top 20||91.76 percent||78|
|Outside top 20||8.24 percent||7|
The top 10 starters for Sunday's race at Pocono are as follows: 1. Ryan Preece; 2. Austin Dillon; 3. Kurt Busch; 4. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.; 5. Cole Custer; 6. Ryan Newman; 7. William Byron; 8. Matt DiBenedetto; 9. Ryan Blaney; 10. Matt Kenseth.
NASCAR at Pocono expert picks
Career stats at Pocono:
- Five wins, 12 top fives, 19 top 10s; three poles
- Average finish of 11.6
"Guarantee" aside, Hamlin needs to be in this group because of his ability to get around the Tricky Triangle, plus the fact that the 11 was first among the four Toyotas that finished in the top six (Christopher Bell, fourth; Kyle Busch, fifth, and Martin Truex Jr., sixth). Harvick's Ford ended Toyota's five-race winning streak at Pocono.
Career stats at Pocono:
- One win, 13 top fives, 19 top 10s; one pole
- Average finish of 12.3
Harvick can capitalize on his momentum with this weekend's unique quick turnaround. It's also tough to bet against the points leader after a streak-busting win. But if you're looking for reasons why he won't go back-to-back, maybe look at the need for a two-tire call and the fact Harvick had finished outside the top five in his previous three races overall.
Career stats at Pocono:
- One win, nine top fives, 15 top 10s; two poles
- Average finish of 13.2
A pure long-shot (130-1) hunch play after touting the chalk, just something to avoid another JGR Toyota. Newman led 13 laps during Stage 3 on Saturday after starting 13th, albeit during a cycle of green-flag stops. Still, he's moving up to sixth on the starting grid for Sunday after a 15th-place finish. Track position and a short race? Why not?