With the playoff push heating up, it won't be a vacation for the playoff contenders when the NASCAR circuit stops in the Poconos for the Highpoint.com 400 on Sunday, July 23.
With just six races left until the Round of 16 begins, the field will be scrambling to catch up with the likes of Martin Truex Jr., who comes in off a victory last week and is now the NASCAR Cup Series odds favorite.
Truex is part of a trio of drivers favored atop this week's board, so let's check out the Highpoint.com odds and serve up our best NASCAR betting picks to see if he'll stay hot at Pocono Raceway.
Odds to win 2023 Highpoint.com 400
|Martin Truex Jr.||+550|
Odds as of July 18, 2023.
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Highpoint.com 400 field
This is a field of the haves and have-nots. Not only does DraftKings list three drivers tied as co-favorites (a general rarity in NASCAR odds), but we see a huge dropoff on the odds board after +3,500, with only one driver (Chris Buescher, +6,000) bridging the gap between that price and +9,000. Outside of a few longshots, the books seem fairly confident in a certain tier of drivers.
Truex comes off a victory in last week's Crayon 301, his third victory in the last 10 points-paying races. After a winless 2022, it's clear Truex and his crew have figured out some of the nuances of the next-gen car, and he's a two-time Pocono winner to boot.
Co-favorite Kyle Busch snapped his streak of Top-10 finishes with a disastrous 36th in New Hampshire, but remains one of the circuit's best threats week-to-week, and has won here a whopping five times.
Not to be outdone, our third co-favorite, Denny Hamlin, has won at Pocono six times, and he'll look to get back in the Winner's Circle after somewhat middling results so far this summer.
Highpoint.com 400 picks and predictions
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Highpoint.com 400 favorites
Kyle Busch (+550)
Busch has nine Top-10 finishes in his last 11 Pocono starts including four of his last 10 being wins. He was second and first, respectively, in 2021 and while he crossed the finish line second a year ago after leading a race-high 63 laps, he was then disqualified. The car he's now driving did finish runner-up though as a result. Monday was his first DNF since Kansas in early May. He had a streak of seven consecutive Top-10 finishes snapped.
Denny Hamlin (+550)
Pocono has been his playground. Hamlin has six wins there, including two in the last six starts. It would be seven wins and three in the last six if not for last year's DQ. He was also runner-up in another race for six top sixes in his last eight Pocono tries.
Kyle Larson (+750)
He was ninth in the first 2021 Pocono race, but should have won that event, and a day later was runner-up in the second race of the doubleheader weekend. Larson was also fifth last year, fifth in 2020, and runner-up in June of 2019 making him a legitimate threat on Sunday. He enters having scored five Top-8 finishes in the last six weeks including three Top 5s in the last four.
Highpoint.com 400 sleepers
Tyler Reddick (+1,400)
He was 11th, ninth, and second in his last three Pocono starts. That plus ending his slump with a sixth-place run on Monday in Loudon puts him on this list.
Kevin Harvick (+1,600)
He won the Saturday race of 2020 and was second in the Sunday one. Harvick has nine Top-6 finishes, eight of which in the Top-4, in his last 12 Pocono starts. Also, he has five runner-ups in 17 starts at Pocono with SHR, but none prior. However, he was 27th last year — due to a late-race crash. He was fourth in the second stage there and finished fourth in Loudon last week.
Bubba Wallace (+2,800)
Eighth last year, fifth the year prior and back again in a Toyota. I like him for these odds. He’s coming off an eighth-place run on Monday.
Highpoint.com 400 fades
Chase Elliott (+1,200)
Prior to last year, Elliott had no finishes better than fourth here, and four of his last five had seen him finish 12th or worse, at that. Then he goes out and initially finished third before being declared the winner after the two JGR cars in front were DQ'd. Still, he led no laps that day with the win. He enters without much speed lately, finishing 13th in Atlanta and 12th at Loudon.
Ross Chastain (+1,200)
He won the second stage and led 16 laps before being in a crash late in the race to take him out of race-winning contention last year. It was a 32nd-place result. On the season, he did win Nashville, but his finishes since Mother’s Day weekend outside of that read: 29th (Darlington), 22nd (Charlotte), 22nd (Gateway), 10th (Sonoma), 22nd (Chicago), 35th (Atlanta) and 23rd (Loudon).
Joey Logano (+1,600)
Was 20th last year and has just four Top-5 finishes in 27 tries here. His last Top-5 came back in 2016. That’s why, despite three Top-3 finishes over the last six races on the season, I’m fading him.
Highpoint.com 400 prop pick
Kevin Harvick Top-5 finish
Harvick has nine Top-6 finishes, eight of which in the Top-4, in his last 12 Pocono starts. He could have had one last year and is coming off of a fourth-place finish last week. Feels like free money to me.
Pick: Kevin Harvick Top-5 finish (+200 at DraftKings)
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Pocono Raceway track analysis
One a triangle-shaped track, the best opportunities for passing are at the end of the three long straightaways. Pocono is annually a pretty straightforward race with this being a very hard track to actually pass on.
Short pitting sometimes gains you track position later, but with caution variance, could bite you too depending on tire life. Some drivers will elect to pit before the end of stages and give up stage points to restart up front at the next stage. Definitely a track position circuit.
Toyota has won 70% of the last 10 Pocono races. They went 1-2 last year before being disqualified. Did the egregious mistake make a difference? Hard to tell. That’s because they’ve been so dominant around the Tricky Triangle for the last decade.
Just last year, Toyota drivers led 66.2% of the laps (106-of-160). Joe Gibbs Racing in general led 102 of those 106 laps with all four drivers leading at least two laps. Kyle Busch led a race-high 63, Denny Hamlin led 21, Christopher Bell 14, and Martin Truex Jr. two.
In the second race of the 2021 doubleheader weekend, all four once again led laps with Busch leading 30, Truex Jr. 19, Bell three, and Hamlin one.
With how strong they’ve been on this track, is this their race to lose?
Highpoint.com 400 trends
- In five of the last seven Stage 1s at Pocono, the eventual race winner didn’t even score stage points. Keep that in mind as you live bet. May be best to look at drivers who finished 11th on back in Stage 1.
- In seven of the last eight Stage 2s at Pocono, the eventual race winner did score stage points, but finished fifth or worse each time. For this stage, the winner likely comes from sixth-10th. Chase Elliott was seventh last year.
- Also, the eventual race winner failed to lead the most laps in seven of the last 10 races at Pocono, including four straight.