Last weekend, New Hampshire Motor Speedway produced one of their better races from start to finish in recent memory. There was drama, great restarts, racing in multiple grooves throughout the field and an exciting finish. Bravo to NASCAR and the NHMS team for improving the racing with the addition of the traction compound. In the end, Kevin Harvick was able to hold off Denny Hamlin on the last lap to win his first of the season.
As for my picks last week, they were pretty much on the money. I had Truex to win deciding with him over Harvick & Hamlin and while he didn’t quite have that same speed all day to park it in victory lane, he ran up front most of the day and improved from 14th to 6th place. Harvick was another top-level pick of mine as was Hamlin who went from 23rd to the rear to the front and nearly won in a backup car. Bowman was a sure-thing even with a backup he didn’t practice a single lap in starting 37th and raced up to a top-15 finish.
Ryan Newman was one of my favorite picks, every lineup with him cashed, and he scored a top 10 starting from 26th position, a great run for that team to put them on the positive side of the playoffs. Matt DiBenedetto started and finished inside the top 10, another amazing run for that team. Preece returned value going from 28th to 21st, but Daniel Hemric looked like a great value running as high as 14th before an incident with Suarez and oil on track abruptly ended his day. A top 15-finish likely would have rewarded one of my lineups with a top 50 finish. Time to keep the momentum rolling into the “Tricky Triangle”.
Last weekend, you could get away with fading the 18 of Kyle Busch, but that is not the case this weekend. The No. 18 has won back-to-back at Pocono AND three of the last four leading a combined 205 laps stomping the field. Until proven otherwise, it’s like Bristol, fade Kyle Busch at your own risk as he’s going for his 7th consecutive top 10 at the triangle.
After Busch, both Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott have been two of the most consistent drivers at Pocono of late. Harvick, last week’s winner, had a run of 5 straight top 5 finishes snapped here earlier this season, but is poised to back up his win with another great run. Elliott has 5 straight top 10’s and an average finish of 7.80 over the last 5 races at Pocono. Denny Hamlin has a series-high 4 wins at Pocono and looks to build off a runner-up finish last week and try to grab his 5th win. Brad Keselowski has just one win at Pocono, but has some of the best and most consistent finishes over the last four years, watch out for the No. 2 this weekend.
A few under-the-radar guys that could have a good performance this weekend include William Byron, Daniel Suarez and Chris Buescher.
Pocono Betting Odds:
-Kyle Busch 5/2
-Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick 5/1
-Denny Hamlin 10/1
-Joey Logano 14/1
-Chase Elliott 16/1
-Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, Erik Jones 20/1
-Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer 25/1
-Aric Almirola, Daniel Suarez 40/1
-Jimmie Johnson, Alex Bowman 50/1
-William Byron 80/1
-Ryan Newman 200/1
Pocono DraftKings Picks:
Kyle Busch ($12,300): It’s a steep price to pay, no doubt, but you cannot get away with fading Rowdy at the “Tricky Triangle”. He was top 10 in both practice sessions on Saturday and 3rd in fastest consecutive 10-lap average. He owns this place of late and he will be in all of my lineups on Sunday.
Denny Hamlin ($10,200): Harvick is on the pole and looks primed for another top 5, but you can’t afford the 18 & 4 in any good lineup build. I’ll move down to Hamlin who starts just outside the top 10 and was 2nd fastest in lap average and top 10 in both sessions.
Chase Elliott ($9,500): Elliott hasn’t had much luck during this summer stretch and it followed him to Pocono wrecking his primary car. As a result he’ll start 23rd on Sunday, but if you believe the numbers and recent form at the track, then the 9 is a solid pick.
Ryan Blaney ($9,100): Blaney picked up his first career win here a couple years ago and starts 20th. He’s got a fast car and was top 5 in lap average during final practice. Just find a way to build him into your lineups.
William Byron ($7,100): Time for pick No. 1 of my middle tier super value plays. Byron led laps here and finished top 10 earlier this year and has backed it up with another strong showing. He was FASTEST in consecutive lap average and top 10 in both sessions. He’s got a great shot to WIN on Sunday, lock him in!
Chris Buescher ($7,400): Like Blaney, Buescher scored his first career win at Pocono and looks to back up his top-15 earlier this year with another one. He starts 28th and this 37 team has been sneaky good at always improving from their starting position.
Matt DiBenedetto ($6,400): There’s no more sleeping on Matty D. That team ran top 10 last weekend and has backed it up with another fast Saturday, top 10 in speed both sessions and 3rd fastest in final practice! Remember Mike Wheeler enjoyed all that success here with Denny Hamlin as his great chief. Super value here to go with a heavy top.
Other Great DraftKings values: Ryan Preece ($6,600), Daniel Hemric ($6,200), Ty Dillon ($6,000), David Ragan ($5,300).
POCONO WINNER PREDICTION:
Kyle Busch – Until I’m proven otherwise, I’m not picking against the 18 car. He feels due for another win after having some great runs over the last 6 weekends and just coming up short. Busch sweeps at the Triangle!