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Explore the Pocono Mountains 225 Predictions: Cole Custer Could Play the Role of Giant Killer on Saturday

Written by: Reid Spencer
Updated July 21, 2023
12 min read
  • Chase Elliott complicates the issue with a double-duty weekend at Pocono.
  • A third straight win for Joh Hunter Nemechek is not out of the question.
  • Cole Custer could play the role of the giant killer at the Tricky Triangle on Saturday.

Explore the Pocono Mountains 225 Betting Odds

Odds taken from DraftKings Sportsbook.

Chase Elliott+240
Justin Allgaier+400
John Hunter Nemechek+400
Cole Custer+650
Josh Berry+1100
Austin Hill+1200
Daniel Suarez+1300
Chandler Smith+1600
Sam Mayer+2000
Sammy Smith+2200
Sheldon Creed+2800

Explore the Pocono Mountains 225 Picks

Cole Custer to win the race at +650

Cole Custer to beat John Hunter Nemechek head-to-head at +135

Sammy Smith to beat Sam Mayer head-to-head at -115

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Explore Pocono Mountains 225 Predictions

Explore the Pocono Mountains 225 Predictions

Cup Driver Chase Elliott Complicates the Picture on the Xfinity Side

Of all three of NASCAR’s national series, the Xfinity Series has the shortest history at Pocono Raceway, with the first race in the division held there in 2016.

Full-time NASCAR Cup Series drivers—Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, and Kyle Busch—won the first three Xfinity races at the 2.5-mile track before the Xfinity regulars took over.

That’s why it’s tempting to assume that Chase Elliott, moonlighting from the Cup Series, is likely to win the race. After all, Elliott is driving the speedy No. 17 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in the nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader with the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series.

The oddsmakers certainly think Elliott is the pick against the full-time Xfinity drivers. He’s listed at +240 via DraftKings Sportsbook, but we’re going to look for a better value among the regulars.

John Hunter Nemechek Has Plenty of Momentum Heading for Pocono

John Hunter Nemechek’s victory last Saturday at New Hampshire was his second straight in the Xfinity Series and fourth overall this season.

Interestingly, all four of Nemechek’s victories have come from the second starting position. Not surprisingly, he leads the series standings.

Nemechek is foremost among the Joe Gibbs Racing Xfinity drivers, but his best result in two races at Pocono is seventh in 2018, with Chip Ganassi Racing.

As good as he’s been recently, we don’t think Nemechek (+400 via DraftKings) will claim a third straight Xfinity trophy on Saturday.

On the other hand, if he qualifies second…

Cole Custer is an Underrated Pick at the 2.5-Mile Tricky Triangle

It’s true that Chase Elliott has a higher average driver rating at Pocono than Cole Custer—115.4 to 110.9.

But Elliott’s rating is based on a single event, the 2018 race in which he finished second to Kyle Busch.

Custer’s rating, on the other hand, is based on four starts—three of which came in the No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford he will drive on Saturday.

Overall, Custer boasts an average finish of 5.8, including a win from the pole in 2019. His driver rating in that race—144.9—is unmatched among Xfinity Series regulars.

Our last pick of Custer paid off in the Chicago Street race. We hope this one does just as well because he’s our choice to win on Saturday at +650 via DraftKings.  

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How to Watch the Explore the Pocono Mountains 225

  • Race: Explore the Pocono Mountains 225 NASCAR Xfinity Series Race
  • Location: Pocono Raceway
  • Time: Saturday, July 22, 5:30 p.m. ET
  • How to Watch: USA 
Image for Reid Spencer


Reid Spencer

222 Articles

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]

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