NASCAR Pocono 400 2023 Drivers, Predictions and Best Bets: Value on Kyle Busch?

NASCAR Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace (45) leads driver Kyle Busch (18) during the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.
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The 400 is set for Sunday at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. The Tricky Triangle as it’s known is one of the most interesting tracks on the NASCAR schedule every year. It’s unlike any other track that’s raced at for a variety of reasons but that doesn’t mean we’re up a creek, or should I say pond, without a paddle. We’ll talk about why we’re not in a bad spot as well as how we’re approaching this race for betting. Don’t worry because we’ll also give out our favorite winner predictions and top prop bets for Sunday’s Cup Series race at Pocono to get you set for the 400.

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What Is Pocono Raceway’s Layout?

So what makes the Tricky Triangle, as it’s known, so tricky and difficult? Firstly, it’s the only track in a triangle shape on the schedule. Secondly, it’s the longest “intermediate” track on the schedule at 2.5 miles a lap. Thirdly, it’s flat. It’s unusual to have the last two in a track outside of drafting tracks like Talladega and Daytona. That makes it a tough track to compare to others. That being said, we can point to Auto Club, Michigan, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the best comps.

That’s a bit rough though still since the Indy track hasn’t been raced in a few years, Michigan hasn’t been raced since last year, and Auto Club has a lot more tire wear. So are there others we can look at or are we back to being in a pond without a paddle? Luckily, there are a few other tracks that compare in speeds and outcomes to Pocono. Those circuits are an interesting mix of Auto Club, Las Vegas, Kansas, Charlotte, and Nashville in addition to Pocono with Next-Gen cars.

Betting Strategies for the 400

Now that we’ve laid out the comparable tracks, what can we take from those and previous races at Pocono in order to hone in on a betting strategy? Well, for the most part, the comparable tracks were hard to pass at and needed maximum on-throttle time. That being said, Pocono does have some interesting nuances to its past races that make it tougher to predict than other similar race events. The last several races at the Tricky Triangle have been fuel mileage races for one reason or another. But generally speaking, pit strategy and when to make the final pit stop always plays a role here. The drivers and teams who come with the cars with the best long-run speed at similar tracks typically fare well at Pocono. This is also an aero-dependent track like most of the other intermediate tracks and so keep that in mind when looking at the manufacturer we’re betting on.

NASCAR Pocono 400 2023 Winner Best Bets

Denny Hamlin (+500 at DraftKings)

He has multiple wins at Pocono including last year’s race before being DQ’d in post-race inspection. At the similar tracks mentioned above, over the last 12, dating back to the start of 2022, he has three wins and six top-fives. That’s too much of a history to deny. Add to that that Hamlin leads the pack in the percentage of laps run in the top 10, top-5, and top-3 at the last six similar races and it makes sense for him to be the favorite.

Kyle Busch (+600 at Caesars)

Busch finished P2 here last year before being DQ’d following post-race inspection. Granted that was in a JGR Toyota and now he’s in an RCR Chevy. However, the RCR cars have a history of showing up well when there is a ton of on-throttle time. Busch did win at Auto Club this year and has run strongly at other similar throughout the year. He’ll be looking to get his hot streak going again at a track he’s had a good history at previously this weekend.

William Byron (+1000 at BetRivers)

When we look at the last six similar races, Byron is neck-and-neck with Denny Hamlin in the advanced metrics like Green Flag Speed, Long Run Speed, and percentage of laps run in the top 10, top 5, and top 3. There’s also the fact that Byron has four-straight top-six finishes at similar tracks. So the fact that we’re getting twice the return on him winning compared to Hamlin is a nice bonus.

Ross Chastain (+1100 at DraftKings)

Here we have a similar case to William Byron. Chastain sits third to Byron and Hamlin in the lap percentages in the last six similar races which includes winning Nashville and dominating at Auto Club. When the Trackhouse cars have been able to stay on-throttle the last two years, it’s typically meant good things for the 2-car team and that could easily be the case again on Sunday with Chastain.

Daniel Suarez (+3500 at BetRivers)

This long shot line is more of a gut feeling than anything else, and his teammate. Suarez finished P4 at Auto Club, P10 at Vegas, P7 at Gateway, and started P9 and P10 at Kansas and Nashville respectively. He’s had better or similar Green Flag Speed and Lap % as anyone this far down the odds list and has more solid finishes too.

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Best Prop Bets for 400 at Pocono

Denny Hamlin Top-5 Finish (-106 at BetRivers)

In the last 12 similar races in the Next Gen car, Hamlin has eight top-six finishes. Add to that his history here mentioned above and how good he’s been at running toward the front at this style of track and this is an easy one.

William Byron Top-5 Finish (+155 at BetRivers)

Byron has four top-six finishes in a row this year at similar races. As we said above, he’s neck-and-neck in advanced metrics with Hamlin so this is also a nice return difference between the two for essentially similar records with Byron getting the edge of late.

Kyle Larson (+100 at DraftKings) vs. Martin Truex Jr.

We’re really getting plus money with Larson in a match-up? Check, please. Thank you very much. Larson has a better average finish than Truex in the last 12 similar races. Not only that but in that span, Larson has beaten Truex straight up eight times. Sure, Truex is coming off a win, but he’s also been distracted this week with talk of his retirement where as Larson comes in a bit under the radar which gives Larson the advantage.

Austin Dillon Top-10 Finish (+200 at Caesars)

If we look at the last 12 similar races, Dillon has nabbed six top-12 finishes in that span. Just this year he’s finished P9 at Auto Club, P10 at Kansas, P9 at Charlotte, and P9 last week at a flat track in New Hampshire. If we’re talking about the speed of RCR with his teammate, why not think Dillon can’t follow those good showing once more?

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Top-10 Finish (+450 at Caesars)

I get he’s yet to get a top-10 finish in his entire career at Pocono — a 19-race stretch. I get it’s Stenhouse and we don’t usually think about him here. However, he’s nabbed his second-most top-10s in a season already — 6 — and has been his most consistent this year. He’s also finished P12 or better at three similar races this year. Let’s take a shot that this is the year the non-top-10 streak comes to an end for Stenhouse at Pocono.

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