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After a dramatic twist of fate led to an Alex Bowman win in Saturday’s Pocono Organics CBD 325 at Pocono Raceway, the NASCAR Cup Series cars take to the 2.5-mile triangular track for the second leg of the weekend doubleheader on Sunday.
The Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 will feature an inversion of the first 20 finishing positions from Saturday’s race to set the starting order on Sunday. Hence, 20th-place finisher Chris Buescher will line up on the pole, and race winner Alex Bowman will start 20th.
At 140 laps (350 miles), Sunday’s race is 10 laps longer than Saturday’s. Stage breaks are scheduled after 30 and 85 laps. Seven drivers whose cars sustained damage in Saturday’s event will start from the rear in backup cars: Cole Custer, Ryan Newman, Kyle Larson, Corey LaJoie, Ross Chastain, Ryan Preece and Anthony Alfredo.
|Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 Information|
|Race||Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 NASCAR Cup Series race|
|Time||Sunday, June 27, 3:30 p.m. ET|
|How to Watch||NBCSN|
With three-and-a-half laps left in Saturday’s Pocono Organics CBD 325, Kyle Larson passed Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman for the lead and opened a 20-car-length advantage.
One corner away from his fourth straight NASCAR Cup Series victory, however, Larson’s left front tire went flat, and Larson slammed into the Turn 3 wall. Bowman took the checkered flag, and Larson brought his damaged car home in ninth place.
Nevertheless, Larson has been installed as the favorite for the second leg of the Cup Series doubleheader on Sunday. At +225 according to PointsBet Sportsbook, Larson is picked to rebound from Saturday’s disappointment.
There are issues that mitigate that choice. With his primary car damaged beyond repair, Larson must start the race in a backup No. 5 Chevrolet. That means he also must start from the rear of the field at a track where passing is difficult.
Yes, Larson can use pit strategy to get to the front of the field, but we think his starting position will be too much to overcome. So, for the first time in more than a month, we advise against betting on Larson, especially given the relatively small reward for winning.
After Larson’s debacle, Kyle Busch finished second to Bowman, just .683 seconds behind the race winner at the finish.
And Denny Hamlin, Busch’s teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing and a six-time winner at Pocono, arguably had the fastest car on the track in the closing laps of Saturday’s race.
Both drivers had lost track position during a restart on Lap 112 of 130 and couldn’t regain it. But as Busch showed on the previous green-flag run, he had a car that could stay out front once it got there.
Busch led a race-high 30 laps before finishing second. Hamlin led 11 laps and came home fourth. With Larson certain to be mired in traffic early in the race, look for both Busch and Hamlin to challenge for the top spot.
At +700 on PointsBet Sportsbook, they’re both good bets, so pick one (or both) to win on Sunday.
When Alex Bowman took the checkered flag on Saturday, he delivered a sixth straight victory for Hendrick Motorsports, matching the company’s longest winning streak (set by Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson in 2007).
William Byron is the only one of Hendrick’s four drivers who has not contributed to the streak—yet. Kyle Larson has three of the victories, Bowman two and reigning series champion Chase Elliott one during the stretch.
But with Larson starting at the rear of the field on Sunday, Byron may have his day on Sunday. He was consistently strong in Saturday’s event, leading 13 laps and finishing third.
With a full race under their belts, we expect Byron and crew chief Rudy Fugle to achieve even better performance in the Explore the Pocono Mountains 350. At +900, Byron is worthy of strong consideration.
Award-winning motorsports writer Reid Spencer has served as lead writer for the NASCAR Wire Service for 16 years, having also spent a four-year stint as NASCAR columnist and beat writer for Sporting News. He is currently serving as president of the National Motorsports Press Association. Email: [email protected]More info on Reid Spencer
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