NASCAR

NASCAR Best Bets: The Great American Getaway 400

Jim Sannes
Jim Sannes@JimSannes
NASCAR Best Bets: The Great American Getaway 400

How you view things for this week's NASCAR Cup Series race in Pocono depends on how much stock you put in Ford's resurgence.

Ford has won four of the past six oval races, and they were second in the other two. They didn't always have the fastest cars in those races, but they're clearly more competitive than they were before.

The problem is that this week in Pocono, they'll be trucking down long straightaways, and the tracks Ford won at were -- in general -- less speed-centric.

Even with that considered, I think Ford is undervalued to win this week, and they represent the bulk of the value for me in FanDuel Sportsbook's NASCAR betting odds.

Let's run through those initial values, and then we can circle back later in the week as more value arises.

Pocono Betting Picks

Ryan Blaney to Win (+1700)

(UPDATE: Blaney has since shortened to +1200 to win. My model is now at 7.2%, which is below his new implied odds, so the value here has dried up.)

Pocono was the site of Ryan Blaney's first win back in 2017. I'm surprised to see his odds this long, so fingers crossed he can snag a return ticket to victory lane this weekend.

Blaney is one of the Fords to get a win recently, getting that done in Iowa. That's a short track -- meaning it used a different rules package -- but he also would have won Gateway had he not run out of fuel on the last lap. Gateway's corners are sweeping and flat, meaning there's plenty of overlap with Pocono.

Blaney's finishes on faster tracks this year have been poor, but a lot of that has been bad luck. He had issues in both Charlotte and Texas, not things you'd expect going forward from the defending series champ.

With Ford's potential improvements, my model has Blaney at 6.5% to win, up from 5.6% implied. That's a big enough gap for me to bite at a track that has been good to him.

Chris Buescher to Finish Top 5 (+420)

(UPDATE: Buescher has since lengthened to +500 to finish top 5. My model is also a smidge lower on him, putting his odds at 15.8%, so he's not worth an add even at the lengthened number.)

Chris Buescher was the first signal we got that Ford was trending up after he lost to Kyle Larson in Kansas by the closest margin in NASCAR history. He showed upside there, and it should give us optimism entering Pocono.

The speed for Buescher has been up-and-down all year. He finished 14th or worse in Gateway, Charlotte, Texas, and Vegas, but he spiked with top-five runs in Kansas and Nashville. In the Kansas race, specifically, he had a sixth-place average running position.

This is similar to what happened last year. Overall, Buescher was best on shorter tracks, but he was able to snag a win in Michigan -- another speed-centric circuit. Volatility is good if it includes a path to upside, and Buescher seems to have that.

Because of that, my model has Buescher at 21.9% to finish top 10, up from 19.2% implied. I've also got a bit of value on him to win at +3100, but I do think the top-five is the preferred market here.

Austin Cindric to Finish Top 10 (+460)

(UPDATE: Cindric has since lengthened to +1000 to finish top 10. I, frankly, don't know why as my model is even higher on him now than it was. I have him 29.8% to finish top 10, up from 9.1% implied, so this is currently the best bet on the board. There's another route for betting Cindric, which I'll address lower down the page.)

As mentioned before, there's plenty of overlap between Gateway and Pocono. Thus, it should make sense we'd be keen on the driver who benefited from Blaney's running out of gas, Austin Cindric.

Cindric was definitely lucky to win that race, but it wasn't a fluke. He had a sixth-place average running position there, the best mark in his career at a non-drafting track. He had a good run there in 2022, as well, so it seems like that track suits him.

Pocono hasn't been as kind to him in Cup with finishes of 31st and 23rd, but Cindric did win the Xfinity Series race here in 2021. He led at least a lap in all four Xfinity races at the track and added a fourth-place finish in 2018 -- his age-19 season. Thus, I wouldn't rule it out that this is eventually a plus spot for him, similar to Gateway.

I've got Cindric at 20.2% to finish top 10, so the model isn't slobbering over him. That is, though, above his 17.9% implied odds, giving us a big enough cushion to buy into Cindric at a type of track that could cater to his strengths.

Post-Qualifying Addition: Tyler Reddick to Win (+1400)

Tyler Reddick has been knocking on the doorsteps of a win in Pocono, finishing runner-up each of the past two years. My model thinks he's a value to finally knock down the door today.

I'm way off market on Reddick. My model has him at 12.7%, up from 6.7% implied. That makes him the second most likely winner, and yet eight drivers have shorter win odds. I don't really understand why.

In addition to that Pocono history, Reddick was fast on Saturday. He'll start seventh and was best in single-lap speed and fourth in five-lap average after adjusting for group speed differentials.

Reddick has been in contention at nearly ever intermediate track this year. He has finished top-five in Vegas, Texas, Charlotte, Gateway, and Nashville. I've also got value on him to finish top 5 at +150, so he's a viable option regardless of your preferred route.

Post-Qualifying Addition: Austin Cindric to Finish Top 5 (+3100)

As noted above, you could add Cindric to finish top 10 at his lengthened odds (now +1000). He's a massive value there for me. But the value may be even bigger here, so even having gotten a bad number earlier in the week, I still want a bit more Cindric exposure.

This is because I can't comprehend why Cindric is now longer than he was before. Sure, he qualified 20th, but that's in line with expectations for the odds he had.

But the practice speed was slick. Cindric was sixth in single-lap speed and third in five-lap average after adjusting for group speed differentials. The other drivers who were top-five in five-lap average are now +1400 or shorter to win; Cindric is +21000.

I don't want to get quite that ambitious, but he is a value for me there, too. To get just a top-five, I have Cindric at 11.2%, up from 3.1% implied. It would have been nice to get the best top-10 odds earlier in the week, but I do think this is a situation where it's okay to add on a smidge while making sure you're not over-exposed to a single driver.

Post-Qualifying Addition: Michael McDowell to Finish Top 10 (+750)

Michael McDowell will start 21st, but he was very fast in practice Saturday. I don't think he should be nearly this long for a top-10.

After adjusting for group speed differentials, McDowell was fifth in single-lap speed and 10th in five-lap average. That's more than enough speed for this kind of market.

McDowell has gotten a bit unlucky with his finishes at faster tracks this year. His average running position has been better than his finish in all but one such race. In that one exception, he finished 10th in Kansas. You could ding him for the finishes, but it's also a sign he's likely due for positive regression.

Pocono is a good track for McDowell as he finished sixth here in 2022 and eighth in 2020, both of which came before Front Row Motorsports started receiving elevated funding from Ford. Thus, my model has McDowell at 18.5% to finish top 10, up from 11.8% implied.


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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.