NASCAR at Pocono betting preview: Don't bet the second race until the first race is over

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NASCAR at Pocono betting preview: Don't bet the second race until the first race is over
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Pocono Organics 325

3 p.m. ET, Saturday, NBCSN

Explore the Pocono Mountains 350

3:30 p.m. ET, Sunday, NBCSN

How do you bet a NASCAR doubleheader? The answer is pretty simple. Wait until the end of the first race to bet the second race.

The Cup Series is racing twice at Pocono this weekend. The first race is 325 miles on Saturday and Sunday’s race is 350 miles. There’s no qualifying for either race. The first race’s starting lineup is decided by NASCAR’s qualifying formula and the second race has a partial invert. The top 20 finishers are inverted — 20th starts first and the winner starts 20th — while the rest of the field starts in the spot it finished on Saturday.

A year ago, the same drivers finished in the top two in both races. Kevin Harvick won the first race with Denny Hamlin behind him and Hamlin won on Sunday with Harvick behind him. Neither driver has won in 2021. Aric Almirola hasn’t won this season either; he was in the top five in both Pocono races a year ago.

While it’s impossible to say that what we saw at the front of the field in 2020 will carry into 2021, it’s safe to assume that excellence will have some carryover from Saturday to Sunday. Drivers who finish near the front on Saturday will have lower odds on Sunday.

The driver with the lowest odds entering the race is, of course, Kyle Larson. While Larson is on a heck of hot streak at the moment, his odds are almost too low to bet. Larson is just +210 to win. You may be better off finding value elsewhere for Saturday while Larson goes for a fifth straight win.

Here’s a look at what you need to know for Saturday’s race. Make your picks wisely. And then make them even more wisely on Sunday. All odds are via BetMGM.

The favorites

Kyle Larson, +210

Denny Hamlin, +700

Chase Elliott, +800

Kyle Busch, +800

Kevin Harvick, +900

Larson’s hot streak at Hendrick makes any of his stats with Chip Ganassi Racing irrelevant, but it’s worth pointing out that he did have two top-five finishes in his last four races at Pocono. And he’s finished in the top 12 in nine of his 12 starts at the track. Elliott has shown speed recently and finished third at Nashville before he was disqualified for having too many loose lug nuts. Busch was 38th in the second race at Pocono a year ago. That broke a streak of eight consecutive top-10 finishes. That stretch included three wins.

Good mid-tier value

Martin Truex Jr., +1200

Aric Almirola, +5000

Yes, we’re putting Truex into this category as he’s the No. 7 favorite on the board. He’s been great at Pocono over the last four years when he hasn’t had mechanical troubles. Truex has finished in the top 10 in six of the last eight Pocono races.

We mentioned Almirola above and it appears that Stewart-Haas Racing has found some speed for his car over the past two weeks. It’s worth a flier if you think it’s real.

Don’t bet this driver

Erik Jones, +10000

We aren’t too sure why Jones’ odds are so relatively low here. They’re the same as Matt DiBenedetto and better than five drivers ahead of him in the points standings.

Looking for a long shot?

Austin Dillon, +125000

Dillon is 11th in the standings. And while he hasn’t flashed winning speed so far this season, he did score a win at Texas over the summer a year ago that seemingly came out of nowhere ahead of race weekend. How often can you get a guy just outside of the top 10 in points at these odds? Not often at all.

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