NASCAR Props Challenge Picks for Monday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: NASCAR Cup Series driver Chris Buescher (37), Jamie Mcmurray (1), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (17), and Clint Bowyer (14)
- NASCAR's Props Challenge game asks fans to answer 10 prop-betting questions each week, with weekly winners eligible for prizes.
- PJ Walsh offers his Props Challenge picks and analysis for Sunday's FireKeepers Casino 400 (2 p.m. ET, FS1) at Michigan International Speedway.
I’ve talked a lot about the new aero package implemented in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this season, and Sunday’s race at Michigan will give us another key data point regarding what the racing will look like for the remainder of the year.
The overall goal of this package is to keep the cars closer together and promote more passing, something all NASCAR fans would be interested in seeing at Michigan.
But just like last week, we really don’t know what the racing will look like on-track, so I’ll be using historical results from Michigan International Speedway, as well as what we know so far about this package to make my NASCAR Props Challenge picks for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400.
1. Will Sunday’s race winner be over the age of 33? Yes or No?
According to the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, Kyle Busch (+275), Kevin Harvick (+500), Martin Truex Jr. (+600) and Brad Keselowski (+800) are the four drivers with the best odds to win Sunday’s race.
All four of these drivers are over the age of 33.
2. Which Chip Ganassi Racing driver will finish higher? Kurt Busch or Kyle Larson?
Larson has won three of the past five races at Michigan, so the easy answer is to take Kyle. However, Busch’s average running position (ARP) of 10.3 dominates Larson’s of 15.8 at tracks of 1.5 miles in length or larger this season.
Not only does Busch have the edge with this package, but Larson’s track history will likely convince many of our Props Challenge competitors to pick him here, so Kurt gives us a solid opportunity to pivot from the masses.
3. Will the race winner lead O/U 70.5 laps?
This question is all about the new aero package. I expect the draft to play a big role on Sunday, keeping the pack more closely bunched together than in years past.
I think we see more lead changes — and therefore leaders — this year, and don’t expect one car to get out front, lead a ton of laps and win.
4. Stewart-Haas Racing drivers swept the Michigan races last year? Will one of them win on Sunday?
Here are the odds for each of the four Stewart-Haas drivers to win:
- Harvick (+275)
- Clint Bowyer (+2000)
- Aric Almirola (+3000)
- Daniel Suarez (+4000)
This is an easy no.
5. O/U 28.5 stage points for Team Penske?
I believe the draft will keep cars shuffling in and out of the top 10 throughout the race, so it’ll be more difficult for the traditionally fast cars to simply run up front and hoard stage points throughout the race.
6. Will the eventual race winner hold the lead with 20 laps to go? Yes or No?
Once again, I expect there to be more challenges for the lead on Sunday instead of one car out front dominating in clean air.
7. O/U 5.5 Fords finish in the top 10 on Sunday?
There are five Ford drivers (Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney and Bowyer) among the top 10 in terms of most likely to win the race according to odds at Westgate, so I’m already leaning under.
Throw in the uncertainty of the new aero package and that becomes more than a lean.
8. Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. have each won three stages at Michigan. Does either driver score a stage win? Yes or No?
This question boils down to taking two drivers or the field in a race with plenty of questions regarding the on-track racing.
I’ll always defer to the field in situations like this.
9. O/U 18.5 lead-lap finishers?
Considering my opinion that the racing will be closer on Sunday due to the new aero package, I’ll take 19 or more lead lap finishers as I don’t expect to see one car get out front and dominate the field.
10. Which Hendrick Motorsports driver will finish higher? Jimmie Johnson or William Byron?
At tracks of at least 1.5 miles in length, Byron has the better ARP (13.5 vs. 14.2), has led more laps (74 vs. 60) and has run more fast laps (38 vs. 25) than Johnson this season.
This is close, but give me the improving Byron over the seven-time champion.