NASCAR Betting Guide: Pocono Organics 325
This weekend's NASCAR schedule in Pocono is pretty bonkers.
The sports' top three series will combine to run four total races, two on Saturday and two Sunday. The Cup Series is double-dipping with the Pocono Organics 325 on Saturday and the Pocono 350 on Sunday. It's lip-lickin' good.
The starting order for the first race -- the one we're discussing today -- will be set in the same manner as it has been the past few races. The top 12 cars in owner points will occupy the top 12 spots on the grid, and they'll draw (likely Thursday) to determine the order of those 12. Then the cars ranked 13th through 24th will do the same and so on.
As of this publication, we don't know each driver's specific starting spot, but we do know the broad range in which they'll start. And that means we can dig in and find some betting value.
Let's do that now based on the odds over at FanDuel Sportsbook. Who stands out at their current number? Our journey starts in a familiar place.
Ryan Blaney (+1200)
What if I told you that for 12/1, you could bet on a driver who:
A) Has six top-fives in the past seven races,
B) Is the series' most recent winner, and
C) Is a former winner at Pocono?
Would that entice you? Because Ryan Blaney checks all those boxes.
Not only has Blaney been rattling off top-fives recently, but he has been pushing for wins in the process. He has led 30 or more laps in four of the past five races, and those four races were on four different track types. As a result, we should expect that speed to translate to the Tricky Triangle in Pocono.
Blaney's Pocono win came all the way back in 2017, and he hasn't had a top-five since then. However, he did have a seventh-place average running position here in 2018, and he had a third-place average running position in Fontana, the only other large, non-superspeedway on the schedule this year. Blaney's in the midst of a breakout and ranks second in my model, so we should keep on betting him at double-digit win odds as long as we have the chance.
Erik Jones (+1700)
The toughest group to figure out this week is the Toyota camp. They've struggled at times this year, but they've won five straight races in Pocono. Because Denny Hamlin (+650) and Martin Truex Jr. (+750) have shown better speed than the others, it's easy to justify betting them, especially Truex. But if you want to buy into Toyota's dominance without swallowing a short number, Erik Jones is here to save the day.
Between each of NASCAR's top three series, Jones has run 10 career races in Pocono. He has three runner-ups in that time and six top-fives, four of which have come in six Cup Series races. The dude can boogie around this joint, no matter which type of car (or truck) he's running.
The big question is how much this year's numbers should scare us off. Jones has led just 27 laps all season long, and he hasn't had an average running position better than 10th. When you're trying to bet a winner, those are things you look for, and they haven't worked in Jones' favor. Although Hamlin and Truex have been fine, Jones and Kyle Busch (+500) have failed to live up to expectations.
As a result, Jones is not someone we must bet at 17/1. However, if we want to assume that the Toyota camp's past dominance here can elevate them from their 2020 woes, we'll want some exposure to Joe Gibbs Racing. Jones gives us extra leeway in making that assumption with the longest odds on the team, putting him firmly on our radar.
Alex Bowman (+1900)
The other assumption you could make (banking more on current form than track history) is that the Chevrolet drivers will get a boost from where they've been here in past years. Hendrick Motorsports struggled on the big, flat tracks last year, but they've been crazy fast in 2020. If those gains carry over to Pocono, then Alex Bowman could wind up a massive value.
As mentioned with Blaney, the only other track even semi-similar to Pocono this year has been Fontana. It's another two-plus-mile, non-drafting track. There, Bowman blew the doors off the competition, led more than half the laps, and won the race. Although the tire wear and configuration of Fontana are very different from Pocono, it does show the Hendrick cars will have the requisite speed this weekend.
Bowman's history in Pocono isn't dazzling, but he has shown upside. He finished third in the July 2018 race and had a ninth-place average running position. Other Hendrick drivers logged top-fives here last year, as well, which at least counts as a somewhat positive mark for Bowman.
With the impressive speed he has shown this year, it's not a huge surprise that Bowman sits up in sixth in my model for the race before the qualifying draw. We should be looking long and hard at buying into Hendrick this weekend, and Bowman stands out as the optimal way to do so.
Tyler Reddick (+7500)
Pocono isn't really a spot to bet longshots because equipment matters so much. However, the Richard Childress Racing cars have proven the past couple years they have the giddy-up to run well at the big tracks. When you add in how much Tyler Reddick has elevated that equipment of late, he does stand out as a way to launch a total bomb.
Reddick's impressive run two weeks ago in Homestead was not a shock. He was awesome there in the Xfinity Series, and the track fits his style perfectly. But what was surprising was just how much upside Reddick showed with a fourth-place average running position leading to his fourth-place finish. That's the kind of juice we need for a driver to win a race.
Including Homestead, Reddick now has a top-13 average running position in six of nine races since the end of the COVID-19 layoff, and he has had a top-10 mark twice. That's why he grades out well in his current form.
The track, itself, also seems to be a plus. Reddick was runner-up in the Xfinity Series here last year, so this won't be his first rodeo at a unique spot. The driver who was piloting the No. 8 car in the Cup Series last year -- Daniel Hemric -- had two of his best races of the season in Pocono, finishing 13th and 7th, respectively. Reddick has proven to be an upgrade over Hemric, so if you're going to bank on a longshot, Reddick is the one who stands out.
Austin Dillon to Finish Top 10 (+300)
Most of the thoughts around Reddick apply to his teammate, Austin Dillon, as well. Dillon hasn't shown the same upside as Reddick, making it harder to back him at 120/1 to win. But a top-10 is very much within reach.
Technically, in 12 career races in Pocono, Dillon has never finished in the top 10. However, he has been in the top 13 five times, and he even had a seventh-place average running position in one of them. It hasn't all been a disaster.
Three of Dillon's four top-10s this year have come on 1.5-mile tracks. Pocono isn't that, but it shows that the team has the speed to push for good finishes when things get cranked up. With things trending up for all of RCR, betting Dillon to net a top-10 seems like a wise decision.