The NASCAR Cup Series playoffs are quickly approaching, and several drivers below the cut line are searching for victories to secure their spots. Who can surprise the field at Pocono Raceway?
Pocono Raceway has generally been a race track at which the top NASCAR Cup Series drivers have performed well. Not since 2016 has a Championship 4 been contested without at least one driver who won at the Tricky Triangle earlier in the year.
But that is not to say that upsets cannot happen at the three-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) Long Pond, Pennsylvania track.
Let’s not forget that up until 2022, two races were contested at the track going all the way back to 1982. We have seen drivers score their first career wins at the track before, most recently Chris Buescher in 2016 and Ryan Blaney in 2017, to secure their first career playoff berths.
Those playoff berths were playoff berths they would not have otherwise earned, if not for their upset victories.
With the playoffs creeping closer, could the NASCAR Cup Series see another upset winner at Pocono Raceway this weekend?
FanDuel Sportsbook, which is currently offering NASCAR fans an instant $100 just for betting $5 (no promo code required!) on a single driver, lists Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. as the +500 co-favorites to win Sunday’s HighPoint.com 400.
But who are some of the candidates to pull off an upset to potentially shake up the playoff picture? Here are three possibilities drivers who can do it from below the cut line.
NASCAR at Pocono: HighPoint.com 400 longshot picks – Ty Gibbs
We have listed Ty Gibbs as a longshot pick before, and it hasn’t panned out. Admittedly, at +3500, his odds offer less value than those of any other driver on this list.
However, Pocono Raceway is a track at which he placed second in both of his Xfinity Series starts, and it is the track at which he made his surprise Cup Series debut in relief of Kurt Busch last year and finished in a respectable 16th place.
We also cannot ignore the strength of Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing as a whole as of late. While everyone wants to talk about catching up to Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet, it is Joe Gibbs Racing which occupy three of the top four spots in the standings. Gibbs continues to search for his own breakthrough moment.
NASCAR at Pocono: HighPoint.com 400 longshot picks – Erik Jones
Erik Jones has two third place finishes with two different teams at Pocono Raceway, and after a slow start to the 2023 season, Legacy Motor Club have been a bit more competitive as of late. That has shown in the results of the seventh-year veteran, and it could very well be evident again at one of his better tracks.
And where else are you going to get +15000 odds on a driver who has been a semi-regular contender at a particular venue?
NASCAR at Pocono: HighPoint.com 400 longshot picks – Aric Almirola
Despite having struggled throughout the 2023 season, don’t count out Aric Almirola at +10000. He ran well at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Monday before an incident, and he has run well at Pocono Raceway in recent years, finishing as high as third place in 2020.
We also know that he is fully capable of sneaking up on the field and scoring a surprise win when he seems down and out. He was nowhere near the playoff cut line in 2021 when he won a late regular season event at New Hampshire. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver will be hoping to secure his first top 10 finish since April in the form of a Pocono win.
NASCAR at Pocono: HighPoint.com 400 value pick – Michael McDowell
Michael McDowell technically doesn’t fit into a category with these other three longshot picks since he is currently above the playoff cut line, but you cannot ignore +25000 odds on a driver who has had a career year this season.
Front Row Motorsports have given him an opportunity to potentially get into the playoffs on points, and Pocono Raceway is a track at which he has run well in recent years, even in seasons when the Bob Jenkins-owned team haven’t been nearly as strong. He has finished in the top eight at the track in two of the last three seasons.
Odds and availability are subject to change, so be sure to lock in your $100 now before it’s too late!
Pocono Raceway is scheduled to host the HighPoint.com 400 this Sunday, July 23. USA Network is set to broadcast the race live beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET. If you have not yet done so, begin a free trial of FuboTV today!