Overton's 400 Preview
By Micah Roberts
When is Kyle Busch going to finally win a race?
He got royally screwed on Sunday going for his historic third straight Brickyard win. The Las Vegan had the best car on the track and the second best car, driven by Martin Truex Jr., was the one who ended his day when Truex's tires couldn't stick to the asphalt coming around Turn 1 while they arced side-by-side late in the race.
"There goes Truex and he takes Busch with him. The first and second-place cars are done for the day."
Kasey Kahne would go on to win his first Brickyard 400 and first win anywhere since August of 2014 in Atlanta. He's locked in to the playoffs and he's also the ninth straight different winner on the schedule. It's a diverse bunch in the Cup Series with 13 different winners on the season now, even though Joey Logano's Richmond win doesn't officially qualify him for the playoffs because his crew chief bent the rule book too much.
The fact that Kyle Busch isn't one of those 13 winning drivers is absolutely amazing. He's had all kinds of bad luck this season and Sunday's race was just one on a long list of crummy stories.
Despite Busch not having won a race since last seasons Brickyard 400, he's still going to be considered a favorite to win Sunday's race at Pocono Raceway's 2.5-mile tricky triangle. He's never won there in 25 career starts, but when looking back at the June 11 race there and last week at the Brickyard it's easy to understand why he's a great candidate to win. Pocono and Indy can be grouped in because of the 2.5-mile layout long straights and flat corners.
All he did at Pocono last month was lead 100 of the 160 laps, but have the misfortune of using older tires on a restart with 10 laps to go and getting beat out of the gate by eventual winner Ryan Blaney. On Sunday he led 87 of the 160 laps at the Brickyard. He clearly had the best cars in both races and yet came away with ninth-place finish and a 34th-place finish.
Busch just has to be patient and not get too frustrated. The good news for him is that two weeks ago his teammate Denny Hamlin grabbed the first win of the season for Joe Gibbs Racing. JGR had been tinkering with the new Camry body style and engine horsepower all season. They didn't expect it all to fully come around until the playoffs started, but it happened much earlier. And we're seeing the effect of it with Busch, Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and even Daniel Suarez being at their best lately.
Historically, Hamlin has been the best at Pocono with four wins in 23 starts. Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers with 738 laps led while winning three times in 31 starts. Kurt Busch also has three wins and leads the series with 14 top-5s in 32 starts.
A long shot to consider is Dale Earnhardt Jr. (50/1), who swept the Pocono season in 2014. Last season he was runner-up. This is his final season before jumping into the NBC broadcasting booth next season and it's probably his best chance to win and qualify for the playoffs.
Top 5 Finish Prediction:
1) #18 Kyle Busch (6/1)
2) #11 Denny Hamlin (12/1)
3) #48 Jimmie Johnson (10/1)
4) #78 Martin Truex Jr. (6/1)
5) #42 Kyle Larson (8/1)
The administrator has disabled public write access.
Overton’s 400 Betting Picks
By Adam Burke
Another weekend is on the horizon, which means another Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is coming our way. For the second time this season, the focus turns to Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania, as the drivers settle in for the Overton’s 400. The drivers were just at Pocono on June 11 and now they’re back for another trip around the 2.5-mile “Tricky Triangle”.
As far as NASCAR tracks go, Pocono is the most unique. The course has different banking in all three of its turns and a very long front straightaway. It has some elements of a road course with how tight the turn is on the back of the track. It is a course where pit crews really earn their money in terms of making adjustments to the car and making critical decisions. The triangle layout, the tight turns, and the wide-open straightaway can also be difficult for the drivers when it comes to shifting and maintaining control. As a result, a lot of drivers have a love/hate relationship with Pocono because there are so many little things that can and will go wrong. It’s also a 2.5-mile track, so that adds some wrinkles to the equation.
After last week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a lot of drivers are just happy to see something else. Among the top 19 in the points standings, only eight finished in the top 20 at the Brickyard 400. To make matters worse for drivers on the bubble, Kasey Kahne won, which means that yet another playoff spot has been taken away by a driver outside the top 16 that has a win. There are two of them and the drivers that rank 12th through 16th in points all have a win. That signals bad news for guys like Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth, and Clint Bowyer. At this point, eleven different drivers have a win through 20 races. Wins are a key element in determining who makes the playoffs.
With 20 races down during the 26-race regular season, things shake out like this. Martin Truex Jr. leads with 780 points. Kyle Larson is second with 732 points after being docked 35 points at Kentucky. Kevin Harvick is a distant third with 683 points. Kyle Busch is fourth with 673 points. Denny Hamlin is fifth with 612 points. Brad Keselowski is sixth with 601 points. Jamie McMurray is seventh with 599 points and the next few weeks are very important for him. Chase Elliott is eighth with 588 points and the next few weeks are very important for him. Matt Kenseth is ninth with 566 points and is in the same boat. Jimmie Johnson rounds out the top 10 with 564 points.
Clint Bowyer has the most to gain over the next six races. Bowyer sits 11th in points, but does not have a win. The five guys below him do and two additional guys below that do as well. That makes Bowyer an interesting bet in top-five and top-10 props and also as a long shot to win, since he needs to take some chances.
This week’s favorite at 5Dimes Sportsbook doesn’t have a win yet this season. That driver is Kyle Busch at +300. Busch has nothing to worry about unless something really crazy happens because he’s fourth in points, but he would certainly like to remove all doubt. Not only does this race mean more from a standings aspect, but Busch has never won a Cup Series race at Pocono. This is especially surprising because Pocono is a twice-a-year stop. He really hasn’t had many good runs here. He did lead to most laps in the Axalta presents the Pocono 400 last month, but still hasn’t had a top-five finish here since 2011. He does have three stage wins over the last two weeks and led the most laps last week at the Brickyard, so he is running well.
Not surprisingly, Martin Truex Jr. is the second favorite at +450. There were some fireworks between Truex and Busch last week, with some verbal jabs being tossed about on their respective radios. They are virtually teammates, though Truex runs under the Furniture Row Racing label and Busch is with Joe Gibbs Racing. It has been a feast or famine kind of thing for Truex lately. He has a win and four stage wins over his last six races, but he also has a 37th, a 34th, and a 33rd mixed in. He was sixth at Pocono last month. Truex won the earlier race here in 2015, but hasn’t finished in the top five since.
Kevin Harvick comes in at +750, even though he, like Busch, doesn’t have a win at Pocono. Harvick is riding a string of three straight top-10 finishes, with a ninth at Kentucky, a fifth at New Hampshire, and a sixth at IMS last week. Harvick does have some near-misses, though. He was fourth last month, fourth in this race last year, and second in the June race in 2015. There are a lot of top-five finishes at Pocono in his past, but no wins. That could change this weekend and he’s a decent bet at this price.
Kyle Larson is also a good bet at +850. Larson was seventh in this race earlier this year, but won the second stage. He’s been one of the most consistent drivers on the circuit with seven second-place finishes to go along with his two wins this season. This breakout season for Larson has been a good one for those that have played matchups and there should be some opportunities for that on Sunday as well.
Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin are two of the three drivers priced at +1150 this weekend. The other is Chase Elliott. Hamlin has the record among active drivers with four career wins at Pocono. His most recent came back in 2010. Johnson has three career wins here, with his most recent checkered flag coming back in 2013.
Some strange things have happened in recent years at Pocono, so taking some value shots is a decent idea with this race. Chris Buescher won it last year. Matt Kenseth won the year before. Dale Earnhardt Jr. swept both races in 2014. Ryan Blaney won the race last month. Kurt Busch won the June race last year. Taking some shots is definitely an option, with guys like Kurt Busch at +3300, Dale Jr. at +5000, and even last week’s winner Kasey Kahne at +5500.
Coverage of the Overton’s 400 can be seen on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
Pocono Fantasy Racing Preview
By: Jeff Wackerlin
Detailed driver notes and statistics to help set your fantasy racing lineup for Sunday's Overton's 400 at Pocono Raceway.
Who's HOT at Pocono
• Brad Keselowski is the only driver that has finished in the top five in each of the last four races.
• Kevin Harvick has finished ninth or better in five of the last six races, including three runner-up finishes.
• Kurt Busch has posted a 5.0 average finish in the last three races, including a win in the 2016 June race.
• Martin Truex Jr., who finished sixth in June, won the June 2015 race and has combined to lead 124 laps in his last five starts.
• Kyle Larson has led a combined 54 laps and posted an 8.0 average finish in the last three races.
• Matt Kenseth has four top 10s, including one win, in his last five starts.
• Ryan Blaney won in June to lower his average finish to 7.3 in three starts.
Keep an Eye On at Pocono
• Kyle Busch has finished ninth in the last two races and has led the most laps (101) in that span.
• Joey Logano has finished in the top five in three of the last six races and led the most laps (182) in that span.
• Erik Jones finished third in his first Pocono Cup start in June.
• Denny Hamlin (11.0), Ryan Newman (12.7) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (14.7) each rank in the top 10 in average finish among drivers that has competed in all of the last three races at Pocono, which utilized the same combination of left- and right-side tires teams will run again this weekend.
• Chase Elliott has led 51 laps and finished in the top 10 in two of his three Pocono starts.
• Daniel Suarez, who finished 15th at Pocono in June, has finished in the top 10 in the last two races this season.
• Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray were running in the top 10 at Pocono in June but were sidelined due to brake issues on lap 96. Last weekend's winner at Indianapolis Kasey Kahne, who won this event in 2013, also experienced a brake failure in the June race on lap 141.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. missed a shift at Pocono in June to finish 38th. The finish snapped a streak of four top fives in his last five starts, including wins in both races in 2014.
MRN.com Staff Picks
Jeff Wackerlin: Kyle Busch
Pete Pistone: Brad Keselowski
Robbie Mays: Martin Truex Jr.
Tyler Burnett: Kevin Harvick
John Singler: Kyle Busch
Driver Notes - Ordered by Average Finish (Top 15) in the Last Five Races at Pocono
Erik Jones finished third in his first Pocono Cup start in June after starting 15th. Jones has also finished in the top 10 in his three combined starts in the XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series at Pocono.
Brad Keselowski leads all drivers that have competed in all 11 races since the repave at Pocono with an 8.9 average finish. Keselowski, who finished second last weekend at Indianapolis, is the only driver that has finished in the top five in each of the last four races at Pocono. This season, Keselowski ranks fifth in stage points earned and Pocono was the last race he earned points in both stages.
Ryan Blaney won at Pocono in June to lower his average finish to 7.3 in three starts.
Matt Kenseth has finished in the top 10 in four of his last five Pocono starts, including a win in the 2015 August race. Kenseth's only other top 10 since Pocono was repaved came in the June race in 2012 when he drove for Roush Fenway Racing. He's posted an 11.3 average finish in the three races that utilized the same combination of left- and right-side tires teams will run again this weekend.
Kyle Larson has posted an 8.6 average finish in seven starts at Pocono. He led 37 laps in this event last year and has combined to lead 59 laps in his last four starts. Larson posted an 8.0 average finish the last three races that utilized the same combination of left- and right-side tires teams will run again this weekend. This season, Larson ranks second in stage points earned and he scored points in both stages at Pocono in June.
Kurt Busch won the June Pocono race last season. The win marked his third at the track and first since the repave in 2012. Since joining Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014, Busch has scored the one win and four additional top 10s, including a fourth-place run in June. He posted a 5.0 average finish in the three races that utilized the same combination of left- and right-side tires teams will run again this weekend.
Kevin Harvick has finished in the top 10 in five of his last six starts at Pocono, including three runner-up finishes. His 63 laps led in the last six races ranks fifth among all drivers and his 11.9 average finish since the repave in 2012 ranks second among all drivers that have raced in all 11 events. This weekend, Harvick will return in the same chassis (No. 1041) he raced at Pocono in June.
Denny Hamlin is a four-time winner at Pocono but has not gone to Victory Lane since the track was repaved in 2012. He's finished in the top 10 six times, including this event last year, and has led 31 laps since the repave. Hamlin posted an 11.0 average finish in the three races that utilized the same combination of left- and right-side tires teams will run again this weekend.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 38th in June after the engine expired due to a missed shift. The finish was his first outside the top 11 in the last eight races. Prior to June, Earnhardt has finished in the top five in his previous two starts. He swept both races in 2014 and has a 10.5 average finish in his 10 starts since the track was repaved.
Chase Elliott led a race-high 51 laps in the 2016 June race en route to a fourth-place finish. Elliott finished 33rd in his second start after contact caused front-nose damage to his car. In June, Elliott finished eighth after starting 25th.
Daniel Suarez finished 15th in his first Pocono Cup start in June. He comes into the weekend with two consecutive top-10 finishes on the season.
Chris Buescher won at Pocono last August after staying out on track during pit stops and holding the lead until weather shortened the race. He finished 19th in June in his first track starts with JTG Daugherty Racing.
Kyle Busch has finished ninth in his last two starts at Pocono. He led a race-high 100 laps in June but a call not to pit late in the race dropped him in the finishing order. Pocono is one of two tracks Busch has yet to win at in the Cup Series.
Martin Truex Jr. finished sixth in June for his first top 10 at Pocono since winning the 2015 June race. Truex leads the series in stage points earned this season, but only scored points in the second stage at Pocono in June.
Joey Logano has finished in the top 10 five times in his nine Pocono starts with Team Penske. Logano leads all drivers with 152 laps led in the last five Pocono races, but failed to lead a lap in June when he finished 23rd. Logano won the first race after Pocono repaved the track in 2012 when he was driving for Joe Gibbs Racing.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
Overton's 400 - Drivers to Bet
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will head to Pocono Raceway for the Overton’s 400 on Sunday. Last week, Kasey Kahne emerged as the winner of the Brickyard 400. He badly needed a win, but the attention in this race now shifts to guys like Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin. Each of them have now won the Overton’s 400 twice in their careers, and the record for victories in this event is four (Bill Elliott). A victory from either Busch or Hamlin would bring one of them within one win of tying Elliott, and it’s a guarantee that both of them would like to have a place in history at Pocono Raceway when all is said and done. Chase Elliott, however, is also a name to watch. He definitely would love to earn his first career victory at the track his dad was so impressive. With that out of the way, let’s now take a look at some of the best picks to win this thing on Sunday:
Chase Elliott (8-to-1) - As previously mentioned, Chase Elliott’s dad is one of the best drivers ever to hit the track at Pocono Raceway. That is obviously a lot to live up to for Chase, but he is an incredible driver and it’s only a matter of time before he finally notches his first Monster Energy Cup Series victory. It would only be fitting for him to put it all together in Long Pond, and his odds are very favorable as well. He’s going off at 8-to-1 and that would make for a nice payday.
Denny Hamlin (10-to-1) - Denny Hamlin has been driving very well lately, as he won the Overton’s 301 two weeks ago and had finished inside the top-five in three of the previous four races before that. Hamlin now heads to Pocono Raceway, where he has been excellent in the past. As previously mentioned, Hamlin has won the Overton’s 400 twice in his career. Although he most recently won it in 2009, he has had some strong finishes since then. In the past three races here, Hamlin has finished inside the top-10. He’ll be gunning for a third victory on Sunday and is worth a shot at 10-to-1.
Kurt Busch (30-to-1) - As mentioned earlier, Kurt Busch has been great when racing at Pocono Raceway in his career. Like Denny Hamlin, Busch has won the Overton’s 400 twice in his career. The difference between the two drivers is that Busch has been in a bad way lately. He has finished outside of the top-20 in three of his past four races, and he really needs to get himself going again. Fortunately, Busch is a veteran and he knows how to win big races. At 30-to-1, he’s a risk worth taking. He needs the win more than anyone.
Kasey Kahne (65-to-1) - When looking for somebody that could make for a major payday, Kahne is one that stands out. Kahne will be very confident coming into this race, as he emerged victorious as the Brickyard 400 last week. He also needs to continue to win, as he is reportedly racing for his job this season. At 65-to-1, that’s the type of guy you want to take a shot on.
The administrator has disabled public write access.