Prediction For Sunday’s Pocono 400 (2 p.m. ET/FS1/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

After two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice sessions to go along with qualifying to set the field for Sunday’s Pocono 400 (2 p.m. ET/FS1/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), several drivers are standing out as one’s to beat for the 14th race of the 2019 season.

Who are they?

Here’s who I think will be the favorites.

  1. 18 Kyle Busch – He’s been really good at Pocono lately as well as really fast this weekend. Busch, finished third and first respectively at the Tricky Triangle last year and was fourth and fifth respectively in practice this weekend. He’ll roll off second in his No. 18 Toyota too.
  2. 24 Byron – This could be his week to shine. Byron, was eighth and ninth respectively in practice in his No. 24 Chevrolet and even qualified on the pole for the second straight week. I like for him to contend this time on Sunday.
  3. 11 Hamlin – This has been a good weekend for him thus far. Hamlin, was sixth and 11th respectively in practice and qualified his No. 11 Toyota sixth.
  4.  4 Harvick – Harvick finished fourth in both races last year at Pocono. He has five fourth place runs in the 2019 season including all being his best results of the year overall. Yes, Harvick has four runner-ups at Pocono since 2013, but he’s destined for a fourth place run on Sunday. He starts 11th.
  5.  2 Keselowski – The Team Penske driver has six top five finishes in his last seven Pocono starts. He was fifth and second respectively in practice this weekend and starts fifth in his No. 2 Ford. Oh year, Keselowski has finished fifth in three of his last four Pocono starts. A fifth place run is likely right?

Truex Risky Pick

He’s the defending race winner and has won three of the last five Cup races overall this season including just last weekend. But, Truex seems to be a bit off this weekend. He was only 10th in both practice sessions on Friday and only qualified 20th. For a driver who said it’s going to be tough to pass on Sunday, I don’t like his chances. Plus, he’s had a bad result in every other race lately. He won in Richmond, then finished 20th in Talladega. He won again in Dover, then finished 19th in Kansas. He won last week in Charlotte, so an 18th place run is heading his way for Sunday right? He finished 15th in his last start at Pocono last July.

Couple Of Other Risky Picks Too

If you noticed, I put Denny Hamlin up in third but that’s honestly risky. Yes, the JGR driver has been fast this weekend and yes he has four career Pocono wins, but Hamlin ha scored just one top five finish at the Tricky Triangle since 2014. He also enters with four straight finishes of 16th or worse on the season. So, do you trust his speed, or his bad luck?

Also, there’s Clint Bowyer. He has struggled lately in Pocono with a best result of sixth since he joined SHR. He was ninth and sixth respectively in practice and even qualified his No. 14 Ford in third. He only has one top five in his last four Cup starts on the season too.

Penske’s Are Struggling

Brad Keselowski is almost a sure bet for a top five, but his teammates aren’t. Joey Logano has one top 10 finish in his last five Pocono starts. In fact, his other four results in those five starts all are 23rd or worse. He was just seventh and 13th respectively in practice this weekend and will only start 16th.

His teammate Ryan Blaney has struggled too. Blaney, was 14th quickest in final practice on Friday and qualified just 17th. He has one career top five finish at Pocono, albeit it was a win, but his other five finishes are sixth or worse. His last five finishes on the season are 25th, 15th, 15th, 32nd and 13th respectively.

I expect Keselowski to contend, but not his other two teammates.

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