Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:58 AM
Best Bets - Pocono
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Each week during the Monster Energy Cup Series (MENCS) regular season through the Chase, we'll take a look at the best Fantasy plays, as well as Futures and Wagers when applicable, to get you ready for the upcoming race week.
The MENCS moves to Pocono Raceway for Sunday's 400-mile race at the track known as the 'Tricky Triangle'. Toyota has flexed its muscle at the track in recent seasons, winning three consecutive races.
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch (11/4) is the heavy favorite, and rightly so. He has two of those three Toyota victories in the past two seasons while posting a ridiculous 124.1 Driver Rating, according to NASCAR's Loop Data. He has led 240 laps, including 24 fastest laps, while posting a 4.6 Average-Finish Position (AFP) over the past five outings. He has run 94.4 percent of his laps inside the Top 15, too, so expect the No. 18 to be out front early and often. Busch qualified well and will be on the outside of Row 1 next to pole sitter William Byron (40/1) of Hendrick Motorsports.
Byron is on the pole for the second consecutive week, as Chevrolet looks for its first win at Long Pond since June '16 when Kurt Busch (20/1) broke through. Byron doesn't have a long history at the track, but he did finish sixth and 18th in his Cup debut last season. His more heralded teammate, seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson (28/1), is at 72 races and counting for his career-long winless drought. He has three wins at this track with a 12.2 AFP in 34 career starts while leading 740 laps all-time. He also has 11 top-5 showings and 20 top-10 finishes, so he shouldn't be discounted. He is certainly worth a small-unit bet, as he is going to get back to Victory Lane eventually, and this long odds are tempting.
Hendrick's Chase Elliott (10/1) has also had some early success at the Triangle, registering five of his six Cup starts inside the Top 20, including a fourth-place run in June '16. Hendrick's Alex Bowman (25/1) has also been running well lately, but Pocono might not be his place. He has a 23.8 AFP in six career Cup starts, although he showed promise with a third-place finish last July.
Stewart-Haas Racing's Clint Bowyer (20/1) will go off from the third position in Sunday's race, and he is one to watch. He has 26 career starts under his belt at Pocono. While he has no wins, he has a pair of top-5 finishes, 10 top-10 showings and 96 laps while posting a 14.8 AFP. His teammate Daniel Suarez (40/1) has slightly longer odds despite the fact he has a 12.0 AFP over four Cup starts, leading 30 laps. Of course, SHR's best hope is Kevin Harvick (9/2). He has actually never won at the Tricky Triangle, but he has a respectable 12.5 AFP in his 36 career Pocono starts, with a third (12) of them coming in the Top 5.
Penske Racing's Joey Logano (10/1), Brad Keselowski (7/1) and Ryan Blaney (20/1) are each in good shape heading into Sunday's race. Logano has a win in 20 career Pocono starts, posting a 17.5 AFP. Keselowski is way better, posting a win with nine top-5 finishes and an 11.7 AFP across his 18 career Cup starts at the Triangle. Blaney might be the wild card, though, as he has a 11.7 AFP with a win, three top-10 finishes and five top-20 showings in just six career runs at Pocono.