This weekend NASCAR heads to Michigan International Speedway, a two-mile oval that was repaved in 2012. Since then, speeds have been in excess of 200 mph on average for the top cars, making passing difficult despite the wide surface, and putting track position at a premium.
To combat the track-position issue, Goodyear is bringing in a new tire package aimed at producing more tire wear so that speeds fall off more, allowing cars on different tire strategies or drivers who manage their tires well to pass more easily. The new tire package adds a little bit of extra unknown to a track that already tends to have elevated variance thanks to multiple racing strategies across the teams.
However, don’t count on attrition to be a major factor. Since 2014 (removing the second Michigan race in 2015, when NASCAR experimented with a high-drag package), the incident rate has been a measly 10.5%, which should give us more confidence that the top cars can hang around to the end.
Taking into consideration the aforementioned set of races, plus this year’s race at Michigan’s twin track (Auto Club Speedway), my machine learning model places a premium on long-run speed, year-to-date driver rating at all nonrestrictor plate tracks and large oval driver rating this year. I use the RotoViz Driver Sim Scores to gauge race-winning upside.
As always, make sure you shop around for the best lines.