We’re back to early NASCAR bets this week with the cup series heading to Pocono for the M&Ms Fan Appreciation 400. Before we dive into picks, odds, and analysis for the Tricky Triangle, it’s important we take a look back at New Hampshire.
After a rocky start, Bell proved that as I wrote last Wednesday, he does indeed own New Hampshire. Those of you who follow me on the Action Network App or are in the Garage Guys Discord (again, it’s free!) also got to cash in on Harvick Top 10. While Stages 1 and 2 were a bit of a snooze-fest on Sunday, Stage 3 got interesting and at the checkered flag, we partied.
Sunday we head to Pocono Raceway for 400 miles (160 laps) at the 2.5 mile Tricky Triangle. After Saturday/Sunday doubleheaders the last two years, Pocono only has one race in 2022. Pocono is a unique track, it’s over 2 miles, has lower tire wear, has limited banking, and has a unique triangle shape.
For comparable tracks I’m using three tracks from this year, Auto Club, Richmond, and New Hampshire, but none are the best matches. Auto Club is a long flat track, but is D shaped and eats tires. Richmond and New Hampshire are flat, but are short and have tire wear.
I’m also using data from 2021 Michigan, where we will race in 2 weeks. Michigan is another 2 mile low banked track, like Auto Club however, Michigan is a D-shaped track. This means that unlike last week, where we had lots of highly relevant data, this week we are faced with limited data that is of limited relevance. With this in mind, onto the picks.
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Early NASCAR Betting Picks: M&Ms Fan Appreciation 400
#12 Ryan Blaney +1200 | (Caesars Sportsbook)
I have a very toxic relationship with betting on “Young” Ryan Blaney. I’ve declared him “dead to me” more times than I can count, but always come back to bet him again. Blaney was dead to me again on Sunday after I bet him top 3 and he came out with a clunker. That said I am Frankensteining him back to life with the 12-1 odds to win from Caesars.
Blaney had a bad day in New Hampshire, but I’m overlooking that for a few reasons. First, Blaney has to be feeling pressure to win. While it’s not particularly likely there are two first time winners before the playoffs, it’s not particularly unlikely. Second, Blaney was third in green flag speed at Auto Club, before bad luck late relegated him to 18th. He was also very fast mid race at Richmond. Finally, last year he was very fast late at Michigan on the way to winning that race.
I placed a full unit on this when it opened yesterday at 14-1, it was quickly bet down to 12-1, there is still value here though. Blaney is now 10 or 11-1 at most books, but Caesars continues to offer more generous odds at 12-1. Obviously, 12-1 is better, but If you don’t have access to Caesars 11-1 is OK too.
#19 Martin Truex Jr. +1100 | (Barstool Sportsbook)
It’s been a hot second since Martin Truex won at all. It’s been even longer since he won at Pocono. Truex has had success here before though. Truex won races at Pocono in 2015 and 2018. He has also been decent the past 2 years, with finishes of 6, 10, 18, and 11 in 2020 and 2021.
Truex is now the only Joe Gibbs car without a win and while he is 4th in the points standings he is one win by a driver other than Ryan Blaney from being out the outside of the playoffs. Given that I think JGR gives Truex everything it has in the next few weeks to get him locked in with a win. The fact that Truex is 4th in the points standings tells you that he has had speed this year, but let’s look at the comparable tracks.
First, I’m largely ignoring Auto Club for Truex. Toyota screwed up the setup at Auto Club and was overheating all its cars. That said, Truex was 7th in speed early before the setup ruined his car. He was very fast mid-race at Richmond and was the fastest car at New Hampshire last week. Even if his speed at New Hampshire is skewed due to having a monopoly on clean air during stages 1 and 2, he was still reasonably fast in traffic at the end of stage 3.
In sum, Truex has been fast overall. He has been fast at the relevant tracks. He has won at Pocono before. Finally, he desperately needs a win. All together I think he wins more than 8.33% implied by +1100 odds. I got this at 12-1 when it first opened at Caesars, but 11-1 where he currently sits at Barstool is fine.
#11 Denny Hamlin Over #18 Kyle Busch +100 | (Barstool Sportsbook)
Hamlin and Kyle Busch are both outstanding at Pocono. Given how good they both are, I don’t know why Denny is a dog here. MGM actually has it flipped with Denny listed as a -120 favorite (DraftKings has Denny -105 to Kyle -115). Over the past three years the two have been extremely close, they split the 2019 races, Hamlin won both matchups in 2020, and Kyle won both in 2021. But neither driver was running away from the other in those races.
Importantly for this bet though, Denny has been better across the board at our comparable tracks this year. Denny was 10th in speed at New Hampshire to Kyle’s 18th. At Auto Club (where both had the same JGR issues) Kyle did finish one place ahead of Denny, but Hamlin was 7th in speed to Kyle’s 18th. At the one track where Kyle was faster, Richmond, Denny managed to beat him. They have also generally been close to equal in speed over the last six races where neither driver had an incident.
Finally, while I hate to rely on this, my gut just tells me Kyle has checked out right now. It seems like given the drama surrounding his future with Joe Gibbs Racing Kyle is phoning it in. He was great in practice on Saturday, but then randomly spun twice in the race. Until his future gets sorted out, or Kyle shows me consistency across multiple weeks, I have to fade him.
Worst case I think this should be a coin flip and I’m making an EV neutral bet. But I think MGM has it priced correctly at Denny -120. Given that they have been evenly matched this could be a coin flip so I wouldn’t bet it under +100.
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