For the second consecutive year, the NASCAR Cup Series will race a double-header in the Poconos to kick off the second half of the racing season. On Saturday, the race weekend begins with the Pocono Organics 325, followed by the Explore the Poconos Mountains 350 on Sunday.
The same 38 drivers are entered for both races, although the odds on the field could look very different by Sunday if someone is forced into a backup car or was all set to win Saturday’s race until bad luck cost them at the end.
Favorites to Win Pocono Organics 325
- Kyle Larson (+180)
- Denny Hamlin (+700)
- Kyle Busch (+800)
- Chase Elliott (+800)
- Kevin Harvick (+900)
- William Byron (+900)
- Martin Truex, Jr. (+1000)
- Brad Keselowski (+1400)
- Ryan Blaney (+1400)
- Joey Logano (+1600)
Until further notice, it’s best to assume that Kyle Larson will be the heavy favorite, and all other drivers are racing to catch him. He’s finished in the top two in six straight races, is on a current three-race win streak, and is now the odds-on favorite to win the Cup Series championship. The sportsbook odds on Larson to win the Cup Series are paying +275 now, compared to +1300 at the beginning of March.
“I don’t think anybody can beat the 5 right now,” fellow driver Kevin Harvick said of Larson.
It is worth noting, however, that there are a number of other drivers with a better history at Pocono Raceway. Larson has never won here, and he has only three top-five finishes in 12 career starts. His best was a second-place finish in 2018.
One of those drivers with a better Pocono resume than Larson is Denny Hamlin, paying off at +700. He’s tied with Jeff Gordon for the most career wins at Pocono with six, and during last year’s weekend double-header, he finished second on Saturday and took home the checkered flag on Sunday.
Hamlin has yet to win this season after recording a total of 13 wins in 2019 and 2020. However, if he is going to finally break through with a victory, this is one of the most likely venues for it to happen.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t also talk about Chase Elliott. The defending Cup Series champion has never won at Pocono Raceway, but the course is unique in that it’s often referred to as a “roval” — an oval track that runs like a road course. And when it comes to road course driving, there is no one better than Elliott with his six wins in 15 career road course starts.
Elliott struggled last week in Nashville, but prior to that, he had finished in the top-three in five consecutive races. At +800, he’s definitely worth a sports wager.
The Pocono Raceway
In Long Pond, Pennsylvania, tucked into the Pocono Mountains, is the Pocono Raceway, also known as The Tricky Triangle. The 2.5-mile track has three turns (hence a triangle), and all three turns have different radiuses and bank angles (making them tricky).
The Pocono Raceway, designed by two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Roger Ward, has been a part of the NASCAR circuit since it first opened in 1971. When Ward conceived the idea of the track and its three turns, he based each turn on tracks that he enjoyed racing. Turn One has a 14-degree bank and is modeled after the Trenton Speedway. Turn Two has an eight-degree bank and is modeled after the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Turn Three has a six-degree bank and is modeled after the Milwaukee Mile.
Because of the different turn angles and varying distances on all of three straightaways, the speeds at the Pocono Raceway tend to be less than what you’ll find at other tracks of similar distance, and the race is far more technical.
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