I feel like it’s been Summer for a while now, but I imagine the folks up in Michigan are getting their first taste. In fact, the forecasted high temperature for Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn, MI is only 73 degrees.
The cool air should make for some high speeds at Michigan International Speedway as the track is rated as the fastest in NASCAR.
The drivers that have had the most success at Michigan are the guys that like to go fast.
Wait, that’s everybody, right?
Yes and no.
Naturally, there are going to be competitors that are slightly more cerebral in their approach to a particular race.
There will also be guys at the other end of the spectrum.
Think Ricky Bobby.
I’ll save you from the quotes. You know them.
Without risk, there can be no reward. This is true in life and especially in a sport like NASCAR where you’re driving 200+ mph for hours and sometimes only inches away from the other drivers.
So, I have great news for you guys. The matchup odds are back this week!
GTBets has provided us the goods this week, and not surprisingly at all the top of the list is Kevin Harvick (-145) vs Kyle Busch (+115). Whether you’re a fan of racing or a sports fan in general, you have to respect what these two have been able to do.
Harvick and Busch have combined to win 9 out of the 14 Monster Energy Cup Series races this year. That’s a combined 64% winning percentage!
I don’t blame you if you can’t choose between these two.
Heck, just bet on both guys to win. I’ll take 64% any day.
It’s surprising that the sportsbooks haven’t lowered the odds very much on either guy.
According to 5Dimes, Kevin is +350 to win and Kyle Busch is +500. You can’t argue with the value here.
Let’s go ahead and look at some odds for the matchups and race winner for NASCAR’s FireKeepers Casino 400.
Odds to Win FireKeepers Casino 400
- Kevin Harvick: +350
- Kyle Busch: +500
- Martin Truex Jr: +500
- Kyle Larson: +650
- Ryan Blaney: +1350
- Brad Keselowski: +1350
- Joey Logano: +1650
- Denny Hamlin: +1650
- Chase Elliott: +2200
- Erik Jones: +2200
- Clint Bowyer: +2750
- Kurt Busch: +3250
- Jimmy Johnson: +4200
- Daniel Suarez: +6500
- Austin Dillon: +12000
- Matt Kenseth: +35000
Martin Truex Jr, Brad Keselowski, and Kyle Larson all ran pretty well at Michigan in 2017. I expect strong performances from each of these three guys, especially Truex Jr (+500) who is coming off of a big win last week in the Poconos.
Keselowski has 8 top tens including 5 in the top five in only 17 races at Michigan and at (+1350), I really like the odds. Brad has never been afraid to make any enemies and if he has to wreck a few drivers going 200+ mph to put himself in position to win, he absolutely will.
We cannot forget about Kyle Larson (+650), especially this week at Michigan International Speedway where he has absolutely dominated the last 4 races and won 3 of them.
Only Jimmy Johnson and Joey Logano have a better lap led percentage at Michigan than Larson’s 9.3%. In only 8 races total at this track, Kyle Larson has 3 wins and 4 top-five finishes.
Several experts are keying in on Larson for this Sunday, but 4 wins in a row at any track is very difficult. I would include him in your money spread of maybe 5 drivers, but putting all your cash on him is risky. Without said risk, though, there is no reward.
Joey Logano has been a model of consistency at Michigan racking up 12 top tens in only 18 starts including a couple checkered flags. Logano has also been on more laps than any driver this season but has only managed one trip to victory lane. This could be construed as a negative because it shows he may be playing it too safe.
Joey could definitely find his way to victory lane on Sunday for his second win of the season. He has the car, the smarts, and the intestinal fortitude to win at NASCAR’s fastest track. But will he be content with another top ten? Maybe Logano will be a better play with the matchups odds.
Denny Hamlin is a driver that has been flying somewhat under the radar this season. He does perform very well on the fast tracks, though.
Only Truex Jr, Harvick, and Kyle Busch have more top-five finishes than Hamlin’s 6, although Denny is still yet to win a race in 2018. At (+1650), I like Hamlin’s value on Sunday.
Chase Elliott is the other fashionable name to throw around in Michigan. This track has been better to the young Elliott than any other. Chase has only started 4 races here, so the sample size isn’t on par with most of his peers.
He still has zero wins in the Monster Energy Cup Series but in just those 4 races in Michigan, he has finished in the top ten in each race including 3 top-five finishes.
I always say don’t bet on someone to do something they’ve never done. It should be rule #1, right?
Yes, but this could be Chase’s week. I do love his value at (+2200).
My sleepers are Austin Dillon (+12000) and Matt Kenseth (+3500). Kenseth hasn’t been getting the same car as some of his teammates. Teams are doubling down on their best drivers, and you’re seeing the results 9/14 races have been won by the top 2 guys.
Matt has driven so well at this track over the years, and it doesn’t hurt to buy a lotto ticket. The only active driver with a better average finishing position at Michigan is Chase Elliott and he has only 4 starts compared to Matt’s 37.
Lastly, Austin Dillon’s name jumped out at me. He won in Daytona, another very fast track and can win again in Michigan. It’s not likely but at 120-1, I’ll take it.
NASCAR FireKeepers Casino 400 Matchup Odds
I love these odds. They are so much fun for me. While it’s still fun to pool my bets amongst several different drivers, there is something about a head-to-head matchup that gets my competitive juices flowing.
Let’s jump right into it.
Kevin Harvick (-145) vs Kyle Busch (+115)
At first glimpse, I would say go with the guy who is plus money. Both guys are driving out of their minds this season completely dominating the NASCAR landscape.
If you look at average finishing position at Michigan for each driver, you will see that the difference is substantial. Kyle Busch has an average finishing position of 19 while Harvick cruises in at 12.
This is never an easy choice, but I like Kevin to finish ahead of Kyle.
Brad Keselowski (-120) vs Ryan Blaney (-110)
Ryan Blaney is young and his results will likely improve drastically within the next few years, but the bet is only for Sunday. In 6 starts at Michigan International Speedway, Ryan has only 1 top ten finish.
Brad, on the other hand, has 8 top tens in only 17 races there. Ryan should have a fast car and faster reactions, but Keselowski is a gritty veteran that I think gets it done ahead of Blaney.
Joey Logano (-115) vs Denny Hamlin (-115)
This is a tough one here. They didn’t make these matchups very easy to call. I can’t even use my plus money excuse and go with that guy because they have the same odds.
Top tens for Joey are 12/18 races and only 11/24 for Denny. The laps led percentage is the biggest difference I can find with these two guys. Joey is 2nd at Michigan among active drivers with 9.9% and Hamlin has only led 3.4% of his laps ran at Michigan.
I think both guys will run well, but Denny is a bit of screw up in the latter stages of a race while Joey stays consistent. Joey for the lead!
Don’t blink ya’ll! That’s right, I said ya’ll. It might be taking place in Michigan, but it’s still NASCAR.
My ancestors ran liquor in Franklin County, VA where NASCAR owns its roots. Yes, Daytona was the first big race but they were racing away from the police making their moonshine runs across state lines long before they were doing it legally down in Florida.
Many don’t know this, but prohibition didn’t just amplify organized crime. It also set the wheels in motion if you will to eventually give us NASCAR.
So maybe instead of a beer in your hand when you watch the race this week, you dust off that old mason jar and don’t let what’s inside fool you.
I don’t, however, recommend any intoxication whatsoever. This is especially true before you place your wagers.
The race alone is likely to be intoxicating enough.
It’s the fastest race all year!
I like Chase Elliott to continue his phenomenal runs at this track, and maybe just maybe get his first victory in the Monster Energy Cup Series.
Kyle Larson has owned this track the past couple years winning the last 3 races in a row.
It’s very tough, but I like Larson, Elliot, and the big 3 in my spread with Martin Truex Jr the first to see the checkered flag.