This week the Monster Energy Cup Series heads to the Irish Hills in Michigan at the super-fast 2-mile oval Michigan International Speedway. Michigan is always one of my favorite tracks with the high-speed racing and the multiple grooves and how both the high and low line come into play. Add that to the new rules package and this year could be even crazier at Michigan with the restarts and cars running closer together in the draft.
Before I jump ahead to preview this weekend, lets look back on last weekend at Pocono. To say I nailed it last weekend would be a massive under-statement. I had Kyle Busch to win the race and in all my lineups, he unloaded fast, ran up front most of the race and ultimately was there at the finish despite a late restart was able to still pull away and capture his 4th win of the season and 55th in the cup series. In my big $10 lineup I was just a few positions from Alex Bowman away from claiming the first place purse as the Busch bros, Byron, Buescher and Hemric all returned big-time value. Looking to pick up where I left off at Pocono.
Could this be the weekend Stewart-Haas finally get their first win of the season? They swept both races last year with Clint Bowyer winning a rain-shortened race over his teammate last June, then Kevin Harvick dominated when the series returned for the second time. Prior to that, Kyle Larson had won the last 3 races at MIS and he will use this weekend as a chance to build off his All-Star Race win and try to pull the 42 car back in victory lane. A few other drivers to watch for this weekend are Michigan natives Brad Keselowski & Erik Jones. Brad has yet to win at his home track despite 10 top 10’s in 19 career starts and an impressive average finish of 11.89. He’s due for a win there and Erik Jones has 1 top 10 in career starts but also has the second best average finish among active drivers at 11.00. Chase Elliott has been great at Michigan in his career and could be the next to win at the track, in 6 career starts he has yet to finish outside the top 10 and has an average finish of 5.33.
This is a massive race for the manufactures being in their home state, at least for Ford & Chevrolet while the Toyota camp hopes to play spoiler. Joey Logano is on the pole and the Ford Mustangs were atop the charts in seemingly every category at Michigan in practice and qualifying.
FireKeepers Casino 400 Opening Odds:
-Kyle Busch 11/4
-Kevin Harvick 5/1
-Martin Truex Jr. 6/1
-Brad Keselowski 8/1
-Chase Elliott, Joey Logano 10/1
-Kyle Larson 14/1
-Denny Hamlin 16/1
-Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer 20/1
-Erik Jones 25/1
-Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, Aric Almirola, Jimmie Johnson 30/1
-Daniel Suarez, William Byron 40/1
-Ricky Stenhouse, Ryan Newman, Paul Menard 200/1
Michigan DraftKings Picks:
Kevin Harvick ($10,700): I’m all over the 4 car this weekend at Michigan. The Ford Mustang has been fast, more specifically the Stewart-Haas cars. Harvick was fastest in final practice, was near the top on all lap averages and nearly swept both races last year at Michigan. Oh and he’s starting 3rd and should get to the front quick. Lock him in!
Chase Elliott ($10,000): If Elliott was $500 cheaper or so he’d be great value, but starting 17th you almost have to get him into your lineups. He’s never finished outside the top 10 and that trend will likely keep rolling on Sunday.
Brad Keselowski ($11,200): Keselowski is due for a win at his home track, however Harvick is cheaper and I like his chances to win much more. His teammate is on the pole and he’s going to be there all day, but it won’t be easy trying to get him in under the salary cap.
Clint Bowyer ($8,700): Bowyer was top 3 in speed for both practices and won this race last year. He’s going to have to beat his teammates, but should easily stay in the top 10 all day and return value at this price.
Aric Almirola ($8,100): Almirola will be in every one of my lineups. He’s got short-run speed as shown by his starting place of 2nd and long-run speed leading the field in 15 & 20 consecutive lap averages from practice. He’s likely to contend for the win and at this price you can’t go wrong. Lock him in!
Chris Buescher ($7,200): Buescher missed it in qualifying as he wound up 31st, but he’s going to be chalk from a place differential standpoint. He’s got 3 straight top 15 finishes and should make up spots early in the draft. Lock him in!
Paul Menard ($7,100): Rolling the dice on Menard this weekend at Michigan. First, he’s driving a Mustang with speed like his teammates and has a great starting spot. Add to that his success last year with a 5th & 16th place run plus the Wood Brothers history at that track and I’m talking myself into it even more. He’s doing a double in the Xfinity series so he’ll have the laps on track and even started on the pole there. At this price I’ll take him over a few of the other guys in this tier.
FireKeepers Casino 400 Race Winner Prediction:
Kevin Harvick: Harvick is razor focused and is well overdue for a win. They’ve had the speed, but have yet to put it all together for a win. We’ve seen the speed from the Fords and my money in on Harvick with how he’s looked this weekend and how he fared last season at Michigan.