NASCAR Betting Guide: Pocono Organics CBD 325

Betting outrights in the NASCAR Cup Series kinda sucks right now.

It was fun back when you could still get Kyle Larson at +400 or longer. Then, we were able to profit off his dominance.

Now he's down to +230 at FanDuel Sportsbook for Saturday's Pocono Organics CBD 325. The implied odds there are 30.3%, and with Larson at 18.9% in my win simulations, I can't get there.

So, if you want to bet an outright, you have to go somewhere else. But that entails betting on someone other than Larson to win, which hasn't happened for a month. It's a real pickle.

With that said, there's still a lot of variance in NASCAR, and Pocono does present some opportunities for the mighty to slip. You've got strategy with stages, fuel mileage, and more. That's not to mention that -- gasp -- someone could just beat Larson straight up.

Because of Larson, our dabbling in the outright waters may be reduced in the short term. We need someone with tons of juice and the speed to beat him, and that's not a large pool. Instead, we'll be focusing more on the alternate markets where we can avoid Larson's strength.

With that being said, there is one outright I do like this week based on the odds at FanDuel Sportsbook. Let's start there and then check out other markets.

Denny Hamlin to Win (+800)

Even when my win simulations fail to get Larson up to his implied mark, they don't show a ton of value elsewhere. There are slight edges on longer shots, but the odds those guys actually beat Larson seem slim.

The one exception near the top of the board is Denny Hamlin. He's going to be the lone outright for me this week as a result.

Hamlin ranks second in my model in projected average running position, trailing just Larson. He gets there via a combo of good form in the 550-horsepower package and good history at Pocono.

In the 550 package, Hamlin ranks third in aggregate average running position across all five races at non-drafting tracks. Hamlin's 84 laps led in that time rank fourth, though his best finish thus far is just fourth.

If he's going to break through and show upside in this package, it could very well be at Pocono. Hamlin is a six-time winner here, and two of those wins have come in the four races using the 550-horsepower package. He was second in the first leg of the double-header last year before finishing on top in the second race.

My simulations have Hamlin winning 14.6% of the time, a good amount above his implied odds of 11.1%. It's possible he's being overestimated based on his history at the track, but the form isn't terrible, either. There's enough here for me to snag Hamlin and see if he can be the guy to topple Larson's hot streak.

William Byron to Win Group 1 (+290)

The risk in betting Hamlin outright is that the Hendrick Motorsports guys have had a clear leg up in the 550-horsepower package this year. A potential way to cover all of our bases if that carries over to Pocono is by betting William Byron to win Group 1.

Hamlin is also in this group, so these two bets can't cash simultaneously. But both seem to present value on their own.

The table below shows the four drivers in this group, their odds to win it, and their aggregate average running position in the 550-horsepower package this year. I decided to label it as "Agg ARP" because "AARP" may or may not be spoken for.

Group 1 Odds to Win Group 550 Agg ARP
Denny Hamlin +240 8.2
Chase Elliott +250 11.4
Kyle Busch +250 8.6
William Byron +290 6.0

Byron ranks second in the sport in that metric, right between Larson and Hamlin, yet he has the longest number of the group. That seems to be a mistake.

It will take a high-end finish to win this one, but Byron has the necessary upside. He won in Homestead and finished fourth in Charlotte, posting a top-four average running position in both races.

Based on Byron's speed in the 550 package, I want some financial exposure to him. His podium odds (+250) are too short, so betting him here seems to be the best route for buying in.

Austin Dillon to Win Group 3 (+290)

Betting Group 3 depends on how much weight you put on form in the 550 package versus overall form. For me, the 550 package and 750 package are totally different ballgames, and zeroing in on the 550 package puts Austin Dillon on my radar.

Here's the same chart as above, with each driver's odds to win the group plus their aggregate average running position on non-drafting ovals to use the 550-horsepower package.

Group 3Odds to Win Group550 Agg ARP
Tyler Reddick+20017.2
Ross Chastain+23022.0
Austin Dillon+29011.4
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.+35015.2

Ross Chastain
has surged recently, but almost all of that has come in the 750-horsepower package. His best average running position in the 550 package is 16th, which actually equals Dillon's worst mark across five races.

The biggest competition here is likely Dillon's teammate, Tyler Reddick. Reddick has back-to-back top-10 average running positions in this package, and those are masked by some poor runs early on if you look at everything together. Both drivers have three top-10s across the five races, but Dillon leads the two head-to-head, 3-2. They're likely to have plenty of speed on Saturday, but if I can get Dillon at +290 versus Reddick at +200, give me the elder of the stable.

Matt DiBenedetto to Finish Top 10 (+260)

In search of longer-odds top-10 bets this week, I'm checking out drivers who have both run well in the 550-horsepower package this year and have had some sort of success previously on the big, fast tracks. Matt DiBenedetto checks both those boxes.

DiBenedetto ranks 14th in aggregate average running position in the 550 package despite poor runs in Homestead and Charlotte. Sandwiched between those races, he had a top-12 average running position in Las Vegas, Atlanta, and Kansas, two of which are low-tire-falloff tracks like Pocono. The speed has been good enough to give us interest.

This was potentially DiBenedetto's best track type in 2020. In six races at big, fast ovals, he had a top-eight average running position three times, and he cashed in with a top-10 finish twice. One of those was in the second Pocono race, when he finished sixth with an eighth-place average running position.

DiBenedetto has the equipment to run well here, and he has taken advantage of that equipment previously. At +260, he's one of the better values on the board.

Chris Buescher to Finish Top 10 (+260)

Chris Buescher actually ranks one spot ahead of DiBenedetto in aggregate average running position in the 550-horsepower package, and he also had a top-10 in Pocono last year. That bodes well for his outlook this week.

At one point, you could have been concerned that Buescher's strength in the 550-horsepower package was confined to tracks with heavy tire falloff. His top-10 average running positions in Homestead and Atlanta both fit in that bucket. But Buescher was strong in Charlotte, as well, with a 14th-place average running position and an 8th-place finish, and the tire falloff there is more similar to what we'll see this weekend.

The good runs for Buescher in the package this year are encouraging as he ran well in Pocono last year even while Roush-Fenway Racing struggled at high-speed tracks. He pulled off a 10th-place finish in the first race of the double-header despite starting 24th. That's key as he'll start 25th this week.

Buescher quietly has three straight top-10 finishes in this package and is now +260 to do so this weekend. His blend of form and track history should give us confidence in pulling the trigger.