Top NASCAR Prop Bets for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400

Top NASCAR Prop Bets for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 article feature image
Credit:

Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kyle Larson

For the second week in a row, the NASCAR Cup Series race is at one of the larger tracks on the circuit. A two-mile D-shaped tri-oval, Michigan International Speedway typically features high speeds (in excess of 200 mph), thanks to the 18-degree banking in the corners, extended straightaways and wide surface.

Because of the high speeds, passing at Michigan is usually difficult, but this week NASCAR is using a new Goodyear package intended to create more tire wear, which in turn should make the driving more competitive. While increasing horsepower and minimizing drag are crucial at Michigan, many teams might also employ alternate fuel and tire strategies to gain an edge. As a result, this race could have more randomness than we normally see at a nonrestrictor plate event.

 

For this race, here are the main metrics I’m considering:

  • Projected finishing position
  • Starting position
  • Practice speed
  • Year-to-date performance
  • Large oval history
  • Michigan history

Per usual, I rely on the machine learning statistical models and similarity scores at RotoViz, created by Nick Giffen (RotoDoc).

There are a LOT of exploitable props this week. I’m highlighting three in this piece, but check out the RotoViz model for more actionable insight.

Year-to-date performance: 17-18, 6.5% return on investment, +2.27 units

Martin Truex Jr. (+170) Over Kevin Harvick (-215)

It’s easy to look at Harvick’s circuit-leading five first-place finishes this year and say that he’s the best driver in NASCAR, but Truex is as hot right now as anyone, with three straight top-two finishes, including a win at Pocono last week. The reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion, Truex since last season has had circuit-best large-oval marks in finishing position (4.7), driver rating (123.4), running position (6.3), quality pass percentage (68.2), laps led percentage (26.9) and fastest laps percentage (16.6).

Harvick has vastly superior starting position (4 vs. 17), but he doesn’t deserve to be such a heavy favorite. In the RotoViz model, Truex has a projected finishing position of 8.01; Harvick, 8.79.

Kyle Larson (+115) Over Kyle Busch (-145)

Although Harvick has lots of hype, Busch has probably been the better driver this year, with circuit-leading marks in finishing position (7.9), driver rating (114.7), running position (7.3) and quality pass percentage (81.5). In the 12 nonrestrictor plate races this year, Busch has 11 top-10 finishes. At Michigan, however, Busch might be outmatched, given that Larson has finished first, first, first and third in his past four races there, with NASCAR-best marks in finishing position (1.5), driver rating (123.3), running position (5.5) and quality pass percentage (63.3).

Busch easily has the better starting position (3 vs. 26), but he and Larson had nearly identical 10-lap speed in final practice (2 vs. 3). Larson has the second-highest projected finish at 7.19. Busch has the sixth-highest projection at 8.67.

David Ragan (+125) Over Chris Buescher (-155)

Neither of these drivers is good, but Ragan has been a little better this year than Buescher.

  • Finishing position: 22.1 vs. 21.7
  • Driver rating: 56.7 vs. 55.6
  • Running position: 23.2 vs. 22.6
  • Quality pass percentage: 16.2 vs. 12.6
  • Laps led percentage: 0.0 vs. 0.0
  • Fastest laps led percentage: 1.0 vs. 0.8

Since last season, Buescher has better large-oval history than Ragan, based on finishing position (21.6 vs. 25.2), driver rating (59.3 vs. 48.3), running position (22.3 vs. 26.7) and quality pass percentage (11.6 vs. 7.7), and Buescher also has the better starting position (18 vs. 27). However, they had similar composite single-lap practice speed (22 vs. 23), and Ragan has the superior projected finish (22.17 vs. 24.22). In what should probably be a pick ’em, Ragan offers value.

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Matthew Freedman is the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs. He has a dog and sometimes a British accent. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he’s known only as The Labyrinthian.