The first of two Pocono races is complete, and now we have the Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 on Sunday afternoon to officially start the second half of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season (this will be points-paying race #19 of 36). The algorithm was strong for Saturday’s race, predicting Denny Hamlin to win (finished 4th), with Kyle Larson second (finished 9th but should have won), Kevin Harvick third (finished 8th), William Byron fourth (finished 3rd), Kyle Busch fifth (finished 2nd), Joey Logano sixth (finished 7th), and Alex Bowman seventh (won the race). In fact, 11 of the top 12 according to the algorithm on Saturday finished there, with the only exception being Martin Truex, Jr. So let’s see how accurate it can be again after a full race of data to add!

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How the algorithm works: There are quite a few statistics that go into the Power Index formula, including recent performance both overall and at this week’s track specifically, similar track performance, projected strength of the car, practice speeds (when applicable), starting position, and a few other variables.

Before We Get To The Algorithm Results…Thoughts On A Couple Drivers

Martin Truex, Jr. standing tall at Phoenix Raceway
Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Martin Truex, Jr. – In Saturday’s race, Martin Truex, Jr. had another lackluster result ending up 18th when it was all said and done, giving him five finishes of 18th or worse in the last six Cup Series races, with the only exception being his 3rd-place run at Sonoma. The algorithm has Truex predicted to finish 10th on Sunday, and while you may be expecting me to say that it I think it is over-valuing MTJ, I actually have some optimism with this #19 Toyota on Sunday and think he could be under-valued. The reason being? It’s hard for me to believe that Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin can be so strong on Saturday and that speed just not be there for Truex on Sunday. Plus, he gets to start 3rd, and good track position to start a race seems to always benefit this #19 team. Then again maybe Truex will just continue this awful slump he’s in…

Bubba Wallace – Psst… Bubba Wallace just matched his 2nd-best finish of the season (14th) on Saturday, and now he’ll roll off the grid from 7th for Sunday’s Explore the Pocono Mountains 350. I tweeted out soon after the race was over and Sunday’s odds to win were posted that I’ll likely be betting Bubba for a top 5 and/or top 10 finish on Sunday, and I’m sticking to that. The #23 Toyota ranked 12th-fastest in Green Flag Speed during Saturday’s race despite starting mid-pack, and now this team will have some good track position to start out with on Sunday. With as strong as Joe Gibbs Racing has been at Pocono lately, you have to see the upside with Bubba Wallace in this weekend’s second race, even if you don’t like the guy.

Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 Algorithm Predicted Finishing Order

RankDriverPower
Index
1.Busch, Kyle38.40
2.Larson, Kyle37.71
3.Hamlin, Denny37.14
4.Byron, William36.00
5.Logano, Joey35.91
6.Harvick, Kevin33.19
7.Bowman, Alex33.00
8.Elliott, Chase31.57
9.Blaney, Ryan30.08
10.Truex, Jr., Martin29.00
11.Keselowski, Brad28.58
12.Busch, Kurt28.07
13.Reddick, Tyler21.77
14.Dillon, Austin21.77
15.Almirola, Aric15.80
16.Bell, Christopher14.56
17.Wallace, Bubba12.90
18.Suarez, Daniel12.64
19.Chastain, Ross08.00
20.DiBenedetto, Matt06.01
21.Stenhouse, Jr., Ricky-01.41
22.Newman, Ryan-04.43
23.Jones, Erik-06.14
24.Buescher, Chris-12.57
25.Briscoe, Chase-18.15
26.Custer, Cole-18.22
27.McDowell, Michael-21.81
28.Preece, Ryan-28.08
29.Alfredo, Anthony-34.71
30.LaJoie, Corey-37.62
31.Ware, Cody-37.69
32.Haley, Justin-38.64
33.McLeod, BJ-40.32
34.Davison, James-46.04
35.Smithley, Garrett-46.10
36.Houff, Quin-47.69
37.Bilicki, Josh-48.61
38.Hill, Timmy-50.10
As someone who has always been obsessed with numbers, Fantasy NASCAR has been the perfect fit with me. I pride myself on the quality of my analysis for each race, and am glad that I have been able to help others along the way. I've been a serious Fantasy NASCAR player for over 10 years now, and I'm just getting started.