2012 Pocono 400 Expert Picks: Betting on Underdogs for Big Payoffs: From its triangle shape to its flat, sweeping corners, Pocono Raceway is one track where drivers are never really comfortable. A car that is unstoppable at the front of the field can become mediocre back in traffic. Denny Hamlin experienced that first hand last season, leading the most laps in both races at the track, only to finish outside the top 15 each time. The track’s massive 2.5-mile layout produces laps times of nearly a minute. As a result, pit strategy and track position often decide the winner. The fastest car rarely wins at Pocono, which means conditions are right for an upset this Sunday. Bettors should try to take advantage of the situation, and here is a look at a few longshots that could get the job done.
There are a lot of drivers that have better odds of winning this weekend’s race than Ryan Newman, but only three have a better average finish at Pocono in the last 10 years. He is a former winner at the track, and he has finished in the top five seven times in 20 career starts, including in his most recent start last August. Since joining Stewart-Haas Racing in 2009, Newman he has finished in the top 15 in all six of his starts at Pocono. Last year, he finished ninth and fifth in his two starts. Newman’s tendency to qualify near the front of the field helps him a ton at Pocono since passing has always been difficult at the triangle-shaped track. Despite the rock solid all-around numbers at Pocono, Newman has 30/1 odds to win this weekend. For bettors, he has all the makings of a steal.
With an unimpressive 22.9 average finish at Pocono, it is easy to understand why Paul Menard is a 65/1 longshot to win this weekend. However, he has been showing steady improvement at the track the last two seasons. He finished 16th at the track in June of 2010, and he has finished in the top 15 in his three starts since. Menard finished a career-best 10th at the track last August, and it is clear that he is getting a feel for Pocono’s weird layout. If the trend of improvement continues this weekend, Menard could be in position to pull an upset. With pit strategy playing such a big role at the track, any driver near the front of the field has a chance. With is current odds, the potential reward with Menard is enticing.
Bettors looking for a real sleeper this weekend should consider 250/1 longshot David Reutimann. Thanks to Kurt Busch’s temper and potty mouth, he managed to get himself suspended for Sunday’s race. Reutimann was named as his replacement in the No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet, and while the team isn’t a powerhouse, it will be a big upgrade compared to his usual Tommy Baldwin Racing team. He has also finished as high as third at Pocono, and he has finished in the top 20 in three of his last four starts. If Reutimann can stay out of trouble, he should have no trouble staying on the lead lap thanks to the massive 2.5-mile layout of the track. Races at Pocono have a habit of being decided by fuel mileage, and with the right strategy call, Reutimann could make the most of his opportunity in the No. 51 car.
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Check out the latest 2012 Pocono 400 odds and predictions from NSAwins.com’s NASCAR handicapping expert Brian Polking!