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NASCAR Odds, Picks & Predictions for Michigan: The Favorite to Bet for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400

NASCAR Odds, Picks & Predictions for Michigan: The Favorite to Bet for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 article feature image

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images. Pictured: NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Busch

NASCAR has released the Goodyear tire codes for Michigan, and teams will be running an all-new compound in Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 (3 p.m. ET, USA).

That’s important because it directs us to the set of tracks we should use to compare to the two-mile Michigan oval.

In particular, I’ll be using all the non-drafting 1.5-mile tracks, including:

  • Las Vegas
  • Kansas
  • Texas (All-Star race)
  • Charlotte

People often compare Auto Club Speedway to Michigan, as both are two-mile D-shaped ovals. However, thanks to a 2012 repave of Michigan, it isn’t super hard on tires, while Auto Club chews them up quickly.

In addition, the race at Auto Club was the second race of the year. Teams have made plenty of changes since then. The Toyotas in particular are no longer suffering from overheating issues that cost them speed at Auto Club.

Finally, there’s Pocono. I can understand both arguments for including Pocono. It’s a 2.5-mile track, meaning horsepower definitely matters. However, its turns are flat, which produces lower cornering speed than Michigan.

I’ll use Pocono as a tiebreaker or final emphasis points for Michigan.

NASCAR at Michigan Pick

*Odds as of Wednesday afternoon

Kyle Busch to Win (+700)

If you’ve been following my work at Action Network, you’ll notice I rarely bet race favorites in the Cup Series.

My modeling tends to find value down the board. Plus, it’s hard to win a Cup Series race. That’s especially true this year with so many competitive teams.

However, I’m in on Kyle Busch as the race favorite, going off at +700 odds at PointsBet.

Let’s look at Rowdy’s performance at the relevant tracks this year.

At Las Vegas, Busch was leading with three laps to go when the caution came out. Busch pitted for four tires while others grabbed two tires. Busch was unable to get the win on a green-white-checkered finish in overtime despite having one of the best cars.

At Kansas, Kyle Busch finished second to his older brother, Kurt. The two had pretty equal cars, and Kurt prevailed on a late restart and kept the lead.

At the Texas All-Star race, the younger Busch was dominating until a flat tire caused him to crash out from the lead.

At Charlotte, Busch led 36 of the first 44 laps. Busch got loose and hit the wall on lap 46 while Daniel Suarez was passing him for the lead. Busch continued on to finish second despite a clearly beaten-up car that was no longer fast after the wreck.

If we look at these four races, Busch leads my new “healthy car” speed metric. In this, I’m taking a lap-by-lap analysis of each car’s speed so long as they have a healthy car.

That means all laps for Busch after his Charlotte wreck don’t count.

With my healthy car speed metric, Busch ranks first among all drivers at relevant tracks.

If we add in Pocono, it just strengthens the argument for him. He had the best healthy car speed there, as well.

Finally, while Michigan hasn’t been a spectacular track for him, he does have nine straight top-10 finishes. His average finish over those nine races is 5.7.

So, while Ford has won seven of the last eight Michigan races, If there were ever a time to go against the Fords, it’s while they’ve been relatively down on speed at the intermediate tracks.

My model gives Rowdy a 13.8% chance to win, which beats the 12.5% implied odds at PointsBet.

The Bet: Kyle Buch to Win +700 | Bet to: +700

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