Podium Preview: Pocono Organics CBD 325 & Explore the Pocono Mountains 350

In this case, Matt DiBenedetto desires the lead in the Pocono Organics CBD 325 and Explore the Pocono Mountains 350. (Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

In this case, Matt DiBenedetto desires the lead in the Pocono Organics CBD 325 and Explore the Pocono Mountains 350. (Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

All in all, the Pocono Organics CBD 325 and Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 at Pocono offer unique superspeedway racing. Of course, the scenes of drivers going beyond four wide into turn 1 often proves wild and exciting.

Naturally, Kyle Larson, William Byron and Denny Hamlin seem like pre-race favorites in both events this weekend. That said, this unique doubleheader weekend may shake up the status quo in recent weeks!

Each race weekend, The Podium Finish’s panelists preview each NASCAR Cup Series points-paying race. This weekend, Adam LucasAshley HobbsKobe LambethLuis TorresMatt SisolerMichelle Raynor, Taylor KitchenTerra Jones and yours truly ponder about Kyle Larson’s best challengers and the rise of Ross Chastain!

Podium Preview: Pocono Organics CBD 325 and Explore the Pocono Mountains 350
Trending Topics
Question 1
By all means, Kyle Busch waves hello to those supporting his candidacy as Kyle Larson's challenger. (Photo: Sean Folsom/The Podium Finish)

By all means, Kyle Busch waves hello to those supporting his candidacy as Kyle Larson’s challenger. (Photo: Sean Folsom/The Podium Finish)

Which NASCAR Cup Series driver and team has what it takes to challenge Kyle Larson and his No. 5 team?

Lambeth : To be honest, I do not see anyone who can stop Kyle Larson or his teammates at Hendrick Motorsports at the moment. We are witnessing quite a streak of dominance from the No. 5 team and HMS that places the organization on an elite level from the rest. If any team catches them sleeping this weekend at Pocono, I think Joe Gibbs Racing could certainly be the one to end Kyle Larson’s hot streak.

Tiongson : While it seems quite difficult for any potent challenges against Kyle Larson’s No. 5 team, I can consider some legit opponents. First, Kyle Busch and his No. 18 team seemingly find speed each weekend. As Busch and Ben Beshore acclimate further with each other, the speed picks up with their cars.

Moreover, one cannot discount the strength within the Hendrick campus. William Byron, Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman can challenge Larson and his team. Byron seems ready while Elliott and Bowman have their moments. For those hoping for some competition with Larson, it can happen if teams continually improve their program.

Hobbs : This is a fun question because a few weeks ago, I would have said Martin Truex Jr. While I still keep him in the loop, I look at Larson’s three teammates. The entire Hendrick Motorsports team has been on their A-game virtually all season.

Outside of the HMS squad, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch are not too far behind in their Joe Gibbs Racing machines, so I give them some credit and the talent to at least keep Larson in close range.

Torres : At this point in the season, the team that can stop Kyle Larson may come out of Hendrick Motorsports. That being William Byron, who has been by far the more consistent driver outside of Larson. The combination of him and crew chief Rudy Fugle will continue to flourish when it matters most.

Thinking outside the box, don’t count out Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex, Jr. Sure, he hasn’t necessarily been hitting on all cylinders since his last win at Darlington. But they’ll figure it out and get back to their winning ways.

More importantly, lead laps where the competition is reminded again that you must get through MTJ if you’re going to have a shot.

Sisoler : I think the best chance for anyone to stop Larson and co. this season, aside from Larson and his team costing themselves with mistakes, would be our defending series champion in Chase Elliott.

When teams are allowed to practice and qualify, Kyle Busch has to be up there, which means at Pocono he could be a threat for Sunday, but Elliott is probably the best bet, race-to-race.

Aside from Busch, I’d think that Denny Hamlin has to be the best bet for Toyota, and out of the Ford camp I would think Joey Logano or Kevin Harvick, probably Logano given the fact that Harvick has not been great so far this year.

Question 2
Did somebody say Ross Chastain? (Photo: Sean Folsom/The Podium Finish)

Did somebody say Ross Chastain? (Photo: Sean Folsom/The Podium Finish)

Ross Chastain is righting the ship for his No. 42 team. What can we expect from “The Watermelon Man” at Pocono and beyond?

Raynor : It seems like he is finally showing his talents as a race car driver. He’s improving weekly and I see him to continue to do so. With that said, I do not think he will win in the next few weeks or even this year.

While that team as improved, I feel like they have a long way to go. It is getting harder to win races with the HMS domination. I think he will get more top 10 finishes and I am looking forward to seeing him and his team continue to do better each week. 

Jones : His average finish for the season so far is 17.1. Not terrible, but not necessarily worthy of writing home. What I do find interesting is two of his four top-10 finishes have come at new tracks (COTA and Nashville).

Additionally, two were on road courses (COTA and Sonoma). Pocono may not be a highlight for him, but Indy Road Course and Road America could be stand out days. I don’t expect to see him smash melons any time soon, but it’s definitely exciting to see him have some solid finishes. 

Kitchen : Ross Chastain has slowly gotten better and better. It is almost becoming a guarantee, at some point in these races, the No. 42 is in contention for wins.

I do believe Chastain has a fair shot at “the tricky triangle” and beyond. He runs well at the road courses and he is always a factor at the superspeedway races. There is a way to go for that team, but they are getting stronger and closer to taking the checkered flag. 

I am going to go out on a limb (bold predictions time) and say we will see a win from Chastain by the end of this season. In fact, I would love to see a win from “The Watermelon Man” this season to shake up the playoff standings. 

As always, our team got around the “Tricky Triangle” quite nicely. Now, let’s reflect on last Sunday’s Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway with our race and points reports!
Definitely, a couple of panelists enjoyed Kyle Larson's latest win.

Definitely, a couple of panelists enjoyed Kyle Larson’s latest win.

However, the points tighten up for Pocono Organics CBD 325 and Explore the Pocono Mountains 350.

However, the points tighten up for Pocono Organics CBD 325 and Explore the Pocono Mountains 350.

Sure, the editors of TPF had a great Pocono Organics CBD 325 race day.

Sure, the editors of TPF had a great Pocono Organics CBD 325 race day.

More importantly, the points lead battle heats up!

More importantly, the points lead battle heats up!

Next, Ashley Hobbs considers the numbers for Saturday’s Pocono Organics CBD 325 at Pocono!
First, consider how your favorite team fares in the Pocono Organics CBD 325.

First, consider how your favorite team fares in the Pocono Organics CBD 325.

Since 2004, the Pocono Organics CBD 325 race winner has an average starting spot of 6.1, led an average of 57.1 laps, started within the top five 70.59% of the time and started within the top 10 88.24% of the time.

Since 2004, the Pocono Organics CBD 325 race winner has an average starting spot of 6.1, led an average of 57.1 laps, started within the top five 70.59% of the time and started within the top 10 88.24% of the time.

Indeed, Chase Elliott seems consistent in the Pocono Organics CBD 325.

Indeed, Chase Elliott seems consistent in the Pocono Organics CBD 325.

Next, consider the trends for the Pocono Organics CBD 325 since 2011.

Next, consider the trends for the Pocono Organics CBD 325 since 2011.

Now, consider the trends in the past five editions of the Pocono Organics CBD 325.

Now, consider the trends in the past five editions of the Pocono Organics CBD 325.

Yep.

Yep.

In like manner, Ashley Hobbs crunches the numbers for Sunday’s Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 at Pocono!
Here, let's consider how your favorite teams fare in the Explore the Pocono Mountains 350.

Here, let’s consider how your favorite teams fare in the Explore the Pocono Mountains 350.

Since 2004, the Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 race winner has an average starting spot 12.1, led an average of 63.6 laps, started within the top five 23.53% of the time and started within the top 10 47.06% of the time.

Since 2004, the Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 race winner has an average starting spot 12.1, led an average of 63.6 laps, started within the top five 23.53% of the time and started within the top 10 47.06% of the time.

Once again, Chase Elliott seems solid for the Explore the Pocono Mountains 350.

Once again, Chase Elliott seems solid for the Explore the Pocono Mountains 350.

In this case, consider the trends in the past 10 editions of the Explore the Pocono Mountains 350.

In this case, consider the trends in the past 10 editions of the Explore the Pocono Mountains 350.

Lastly, consider the trends in the past five editions of the Explore the Pocono Mountains 350.

Lastly, consider the trends in the past five editions of the Explore the Pocono Mountains 350.

Gasp!

Gasp!

Next, here’s our picks for Saturday’s Pocono Organics CBD 325 at Pocono! 
Now, please find our picks for Saturday's Pocono Organics CBD 325.

Now, please find our picks for Saturday’s Pocono Organics CBD 325.

Torres : Sometimes you may need a little discouragement like a DQ to enter a race. Chase Elliott is going to be the guy that’ll stop Kyle Larson from winning four in a row. It’s the kind of confidence booster they can have right now.

TPF Stats : Following the rules, The Machine has maxed out on Denny Hamlin picks so going to second place is Chase Elliott. After a great run at Nashville only to be plucked to last place due to lug nuts, Elliott will look to rebound and make up those lost points in the first of two Pocono races.

Tiongson : After making me look a bit smart last Sunday, look for William Byron back in victory lane on Saturday afternoon. If not, he’ll come close with a podium finish!

Hobbs : The trophy case at HMS will continue to grow with a victory from William Byron on Saturday!

Byron : I stated earlier this week that Hendrick is in dominant form. Time to share some of the love, William Byron gets the first win of the double header this weekend.

Jones : I think the easy answer is “Why not?” Kyle Larson has six top 10s, but every week he shows up saying, “I didn’t think I’d be very good here…” and dominates so, he’ll do just that again!

Sisoler : Why Kyle Larson, you ask? I say why not Larson? Larson is on fire of late. And he probably can keep being an odds-on favorite to take the checkered flag every time he has a mechanically healthy race car and keeps the No. 5 Chevy clean.

Kitchen : Kyle Larson is the obvious choice for this race and any race in the future. For the sake of excitement, I al choosing Larson to win one of these races for sure. Larson is just that good, he might just win both.

Lambeth : Why not? Kyle Larson has a high chance of keeping the good times rolling heading to Pocono.

Raynor : Kevin Harvick and his team have been getting better each week and he’s won at this track. And I think he can get it done this weekend.

Lastly, here’s our picks for Sunday’s Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 at Pocono!
How about this sensational selection of drivers?

How about this sensational selection of drivers?

Torres : More track time, the better. While Martin Truex Jr has had moments this season, I can see him striving at a treacherous track like Pocono once more. Far from being the strongest car, but his resiliency will ultimately help him out where a win is doable. Joe Gibbs Racing will return to their winning ways once more.

Jones : The inversion will work in Chase Elliott‘s favor. He is going to overcome last Sunday and be the one to put a stop to Larson’s hot streak!

TPF Stats : While the second Pocono outing is typically a few weeks after the first, we are back-to-back in the mountains, and the numbers predict another HMS victory this weekend. No, not in Kyle Larson, but in William Byron.

Kitchen : HMS is on a hot streak and I think William Byron has a great shot at winning a race this weekend. He has been strong all season and is inching closer and closer to a win. I think he gets one this weekend.

Raynor : William Byron did well on Saturday and has been showing speed.

Tiongson : If William Byron and his No. 24 mustered a podium finish with a tight car on Saturday, wait until Sunday. This No. 24 team can muscle another podium in a slightly longer race.

Hobbs : Given how well Kyle Busch ran on Saturday, I think he will have something more for the Hendrick guys on Sunday.

Lucas : Kyle Busch had a great Saturday race. I expect him to complete the task on Sunday!

Sisoler : Kyle Busch always does better when he has some sort of practice, whether it’s actual practice sessions or a race in a doubleheader. With him having gotten that on Saturday, expect him to contend for the win on Sunday.

Lambeth : Denny Hamlin will finally breakthrough and find victory lane for the first time in 2021!

Shoppe : Kyle Larson isn’t the only Hendrick driver with momentum! Alex Bowman having just signed an extension with HMS has the most confidence of his cup career! Now he’ll go out and get his third win of the season!

Race fans, thanks for joining us for our preview of the Pocono Organics CBD 325 and Explore the Pocono Mountains 350!

We’re ready for some racing. How about you? What do you think are the biggest storylines heading into these races? Who are your favorites to win?  Tweet us now @ThePodiumFinish and tell us now!

Thanks as always to the TPF team for their amazing efforts this week!  Stay safe and wash your hands often. Help yourself, your family and friends by getting the COVID-19 vaccine! Also, thanks for reading our content throughout this season.

The opinions and thoughts expressed in Podium Preview are solely of the authors. They do not reflect any organizations affiliated with the participants and author outside of TPF. This weekly feature is strictly for entertainment purposes. Ultimately, they are not indicative of TPF, the organization and its staff.

Presently, Ashley Hobbs challenges each of our fans to participate in the 38 Challenge for mental health awareness! In this case, join her challenge now by visiting this link!

Also, if you are shopping for NASCAR or racing die-casts, be sure to check out our friends at Circle B Diecast! If your order is $20 or more, be sure to use coupon code TPF2021 for free shipping! Tell them we sent you and buy some new die-casts now!

Rob Tiongson

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes.

From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat.

Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Communications at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's just as happy to be a Texan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

WP Twitter Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com