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Michigan International Speedway is the site of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ 23rd race of the year. With only four races remaining until the playoff field is set, the intensity should be high at one of the fastest tracks on the schedule.
We’re back to a traditional race weekend schedule, with no post-qualifying inspection failures to worry about. That gives us plenty of time to make bets heading into the race.
Michigan is a 2-mile, D-shaped oval that’s very wide. The addition of the PJ1 traction compound should mean there are multiple grooves of racing. However, track position will also be key.
Joey Logano led 163 of the 203 laps after from the pole position en route to a win at the first Michigan race this year. Starting on the front row this weekend is Logano’s teammate, Brad Keselowski, and Ford stablemate Kevin Harvick.
My model also finds these other data points as statistically significant:
- Long-run speed in practice
- Year-to-date quality pass percentage
Armed with these data points and my statistical model, I’ve found two strong outright bets for tomorrow’s race.
*All odds as of 4:00 p.m. ET on Saturday. A quick explainer on the odds below: A $100 wager on +2000 would profit $2000.
Kevin Harvick +600
Harvick is the race favorite according to my model, and the Westgate has appropriately listed him as such. However, a bit of shopping around goes a long way.
Harvick is listed at +600 at MGM and is a must-bet at that price. Lately, race favorites have been going off anywhere from +200 to +450, so this price is fantastic for Harvick.
In addition to starting on the front row, Harvick also has strong practice times. He was quickest across the board in Saturday’s opening practice session, and was third in 10-lap averages in final practice.
Because of the different aerodynamic packages NASCAR has run with the Gen-6 car at Michigan, track history doesn’t pop out as significant. However, with two races per year, it is valuable to look back at the first race. Harvick posted the second-most laps led, and also had the most fastest laps.
If you’re not in Vegas, but can find Harvick at +450 or longer, I’d still make that bet.
Clint Bowyer +2000
Bowyer is a driver on the playoff bubble, just 12 points ahead of the cutline. However, a win would secure his spot in the playoffs, and he has a strong car this weekend that should be in contention.
Bowyer starts fifth, and was also near the top of the charts in practice. He posted the second-fastest five- and 10-lap times in Happy Hour, and was the fastest of 10 drivers that made a 15-lap run.
Bowyer is also stronger than his 15th-place point position in other key metrics. His year-to-date quality pass percentage is 10th, and his driver rating is 11th. Both of those numbers would be even higher if not for his tremendously bad luck.
That means he’s typically a driver running inside the top 10, but just hasn’t been able to consistently finish. Rolling all these numbers together, my model gives Bowyer the fifth-best average finish for tomorrow’s race.
You can find Bowyer at this number at MGM and at the DraftKings Sportsbook. However, I expect it to drop. I’d bet him as low as +1600.