The NASCAR Cup Series heads north from its previous race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway up to Michigan. Here, we’ll dive into the FireKeepers Casino 400 odds, who’s the favorite, and where the best value on the board lies.
Michigan International Speedway is a 2-mile track located in Brooklyn, Michigan, a little over an hour west of Detroit. It is regarded as the sister track to Texas World Speedway. Michigan is known to be one of the fastest tracks on the NASCAR circuit because of the width of the track and long straightaways.
The speedway got a facelift in 2012 when they decided to have the track repaved which has brought much faster speeds since then. Stage 1 will be 40 laps with Stage 2 being 45 laps. The final stage will be 71 laps for a grand total of 156.
Who are the Favorites?
At the top of the FireKeepers Casino 400 odds is Chase Elliott at +700. While Elliott has never won at Michigan, he did finish in second place the first three times he started at Michigan. While he hasn’t had a top-five finish at Michigan since he’s finished outside of the top 10 only once in 11 starts. Last season, he won Stage 1 and led 68 laps before he finished eighth. Currently, first, in the NASCAR Cup Series standings, there are not many places where Elliott doesn’t perform well. Could this be the year he breaks through? It’s tough to say. But it’s almost quite safe to say he’ll be in contention down the stretch.
Tied with Elliott at +700 is his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson. Remember how we just noted that Elliott finished second three times in a row? Larson was the victor in two of those. Larson took first in the August 2016 race before sweeping both races at Michigan in 2017. Since then, it’s been a mixed bag. He finished no better than 14th in his next three starts at Michigan with a low finish of 28th. He’s bounced back well since with back-to-back third-place finishes in his last two outings.
He doesn’t have the consistency that Elliott offers with the trade-off that he’s won here multiple times versus no wins for Elliott. Both offer decent value at the number. If you think it will definitely be one of the favorites that take the checkered flag but don’t want to decide between the two, you can bet Hendrick Motorsports to be the team race winner at +225.
Kyle Busch enters the weekend with +800 odds and is currently eighth in the driver standings. His lone win at Michigan came back in August of 2011. Following the win, Michigan wasn’t too kind to him. He finished in the top-10 just twice over the next 11 races, with four finishes 39th or worse.
Busch has rebounded since then, finishing in the top 10 in each of his last nine races at Michigan with five top-fives. Busch will contend and likely finish in the running once again, but for the price of the second favorite, there are likely bets with better value in terms of outright betting odds.
While Denny Hamlin hasn’t had the consistency of years past, currently sitting 19th in the driver standings, he’s still got two wins on the season. He’s still a threat to win any given race, which is why he enters tied for the third-lowest odds at +900. He’s been consistent at Michigan lately, finishing in the top 10 in five of his last six starts with two second-place finishes.
Again, what’s hurt Hamlin the most this season has been a lack of consistency. Is he a threat to win? Yes. Could he also finish outside of the top 10 or top 15? Also yes. Of his three top-five finishes this season, he won two of them. So unless he wins, this season tells us he’s likely not going to finish in the top five either.
Tied with Hamlin at +900 is Ryan Blaney. Blaney took the checkered flag at Michigan last season. Also worth noting Blaney won the All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway earlier this season, the track that is often likened to Michigan and is considered its sister track. Blaney has been the opposite of Hamlin this season. Other than the All-Star race, he has yet to record a win this season. Yet, he still sits in second place in the driver standings thanks to seven top-five finishes.
Best of the Rest
Speaking of accomplished drivers without a win this season, Martin Truex Jr. enters at +1200 odds. While it may seem like Truex has had a down year on the surface, he’s still in the top five of the driver standings. Believe it or not, he has the most stage wins of any driver this season.
While he’s never taken the checkered flag at Michigan, he’s come incredibly close multiple times, including lately. He took 10th in last year’s race at Michigan but finished third in three of his previous four there. He’s finished third or better in nine of his 31 races at Michigan, or 29% of the time. Could this be when Truex breaks through for his first win of 2022? It’s entirely possible. But you can get him at +300 to finish in the top three and +150 to finish in the top five.
Coming off his second win of the season, Tyler Reddick enters Michigan at +1100 in the FireKeepers Casino 400 odds; however, in three Cup Series races at Michigan, Reddick has yet to finish better than 18th. There will be days to back Reddick, but this may not be one of them.
One driver we can’t gloss over is Joey Logano at +1400. He’s won three times at Michigan in his 25 starts with 17 top-10 finishes and seven top-five finishes, including a stretch where he didn’t place outside of the top 10 over nine races. There’s definitely some value on Logano this weekend. There are not many opportunities left on the NASCAR race schedule, so drivers will be gunning to hold onto their spots in the standings as the regular season comes to a close.
Where’s the Value?
A usual suspect has found his way back into this section of the piece. That’s right, Kevin Harvick might have the best value across the board of any driver this weekend. He enters at +2000 despite having five career wins at Michigan. He’s had a rough past two weeks, with a 33rd-place finish at Indy Road Course after a 27th-place finish at Pocono.
Prior to that, Harvick was able to string together some nice outings. He finished fifth at New Hampshire and has back-to-back 10th-place finishes at Nashville and Road America, respectively. He’s also had fourth-place finishes at Sonoma and Darlington, a third-place finish at Charlotte, and a second-place finish at Richmond earlier this season.
In 41 Cup Series races at Michigan, Harvick has placed in the top 10, 21 times, and in the top five 15 times. This might not be the week Harvick gets on the board with a win, but he has even odds to finish in the top 10 and +250 to finish in the top five.Follow us on Twitter