M&M's Fan Appreciation 400 Picks, Predictions, and Race Preview

NASCAR won't be hosting a back-to-back betting bash at Pocono Raceway this weekend, opting for a lone Sunday race. See why we're leaning towards last year's Cup Series champ reasserting himself with our M&M's Fan Appreciation 400 picks.

Last Updated: Jul 20, 2022 3:17 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
Kyle Larson M&M's Fan Appreciation 400 picks NASCAR
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

It's been a season of change in NASCAR: New Gen-7 cars, several new drivers near the top of the Cup Series standings, and plenty of new races.

In keeping with the old being ousted, NASCAR is moving away from the double-header format at Pocono Raceway this weekend, with Kyle Busch leading the M&M's Fan Appreciation 400 odds.

Here are our best M&M's Fan Appreciation 400 picks and predictions for Sunday, July 24, with the green flag flying at 3:00 p.m. ET.              

M&M's Fan Appreciation 400 best bets

Picks made on 7/20/22 at 2:00 p.m. ET.
Click on each pick above to jump to the full analysis.
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

M&M's Fan Appreciation 400 favorites    

Kyle Larson (+900)

He was ninth but should have won the first race last year and was runner-up in the second. He was fifth in 2020 and runner-up in June of 2019, too.

Kyle Busch (+600)

Busch has nine Top-10 finishes in his last 10 Pocono starts, including wins in four of his last nine. He was second and first, respectively, last year. While he’s backsliding into this weekend, this season has also proven that momentum doesn’t really matter from one week to the next either. 

Denny Hamlin (+800)

Pocono has been his playground lately. Hamlin has six wins there, including two in the last five. He was also runner-up in another for six Top 6s in his last seven Pocono tries overall.

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M&M's Fan Appreciation 400 longshot picks

Aric Almirola (+2,500)

He has four Top 10s in his last eight starts there, including a pair of Top 5s in 2020.

Kevin Harvick (+1,000)

He won the Saturday race of 2020 and was second in the Sunday one. Harvick also has nine Top-6 finishes — eight of which being in the Top 4 — in his last 11 Pocono starts. 

Kurt Busch (+3,000)

Busch has 11 Top 10s in his last 20 Pocono starts, including eight in the Top 5.

M&M's Fan Appreciation 400 fades

Chase Elliott (+800)

Yes, he’s the hottest driver in NASCAR right now with four Top 2s in a row. However, he’s also had no finishes better than fourth at Pocono before, and four of his last five have seen him finish 12th or worse, at that. 

Christopher Bell (+1,500)

He was fourth in his first Pocono start, but 39th, 17th, and 32nd, respectively, since.

Alex Bowman (+2,000)

A win and seventh-place finish last year to go along with a ninth in Race 2 of 2020 gives him three straight Top 10s on the track. However, he’s led just four laps outside of Las Vegas all season. He has no finish better than 12th in his last six, with three of his last four results being 32nd or worse. 

M&M's Fan Appreciation 400 matchup pick

Ross Chastain (-115) vs. William Byron (-105)

Byron has struggled a lot lately. He hasn’t had a Top-5 finish since his Martinsville win back in April. Meanwhile, Chastain has six straight Top-8 results in 2022, beating Byron across the finish line in 10 of the last 11 races.  

PICK: Chastain (-115)

M&M's Fan Appreciation 400 preview

For the first time in decades, Pocono hosts just one NASCAR race this season. The last two years was a doubleheader format, but this one is back to a single race. How much does that change things? It could be a lot since there’s not any data to take with you from one race to the next.

Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota, in general, has won seven of the last nine at Pocono. Hendrick Motorsports, however, looked the part last year too. Throw in Stewart-Haas Racing and you get 17 of the last 19 Pocono winners belonging to JGR or one of their affiliate teams — Hendrick and SHR. One of the two that they didn’t win was a fluke rain-shortened race in 2016. 

SHR doesn’t look like they have the pace this year to keep up, but are worth plays due to their favorable odds. Pocono is a track that lends to varying strategies, so they’re worth a risk. That’s why JGR and HMS drivers are the ones to bet on. 

M&M's Fan Appreciation 400 key stat

Don’t get too hung up on qualifying this weekend. Only one of the last seven Pocono races have seen the winner come from the Top 4 rows. 

M&M's Fan Appreciation 400 live betting trend to watch

  • In five of the last six Stage 1’s at Pocono, the eventual race winner didn’t even score stage points. Keep that in mind as you live bet. On the season, just once in the last eight races has the eventual winner even finished in the Top 5 in stage 1. In saying that, Pocono will race a lot like a road course in terms of strategy, and none of the three road races run this year saw the winner finish in the points at the end of Stage 1. May be best to look at drivers who finished 11th-on back in Stage 1.

  • In six of the last seven Stage 2’s at Pocono, the eventual race winner did score stage points but finished fifth or worse each time. For the year, 10 of the last 12 second stages saw the eventual winner get stage points. Like the point for Stage 1, this will look strategy-wise like a road course race, and 2022’s three road races saw the winner finish eighth, fourth and 10th respectively. For this stage though, the winner likely comes from sixth-10th as a result.  

  • Also, the eventual race winner failed to lead the most laps in six of the last nine races at Pocono, including three straight. For the year, the eventual winner didn’t lead a single lap until the final stage in four of the last six races. 

  • Five of the last six race winners on the season didn’t lead a single lap in the first two stages. 

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