NASCAR Picks: NASCAR Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan Best Bets, Odds to Consider at DraftKings Sportsbook

It’s been years since Michigan was a real race. The low-power, high-downforce car introduced by NASCAR in 2019 put on a poor show on the two-mile intermediate track. Even before that measly racing package, racing at Michigan was suspect. Will the Next Gen car bring Michigan back to life?

As always, trust the spreadsheet but also trust your eyes. These are the best bets for the NASCAR Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400 in Michigan, which begins on Sunday, August 7 at 3 pm ET.

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Michigan is a two-mile intermediate track. It is similar in layout to Fontana (Auto Club) but the diverging track surfaces make these tracks run differently. Fontana feels like a giant dirt track. Unsurprisingly, the 2022 race was dominated by dirt runners: Tyler Reddick, Chase Briscoe and Kyle Larson. Michigan was resurfaced in 2012. It is a high-speed track with a single rut and few passing opportunities. Could the Next Gen car cure the problems of this troubled northern track?

The last high-power, low-downforce Michigan race was in 2018. It wasn’t that great, but it’s been several winters. The track has aged. No one would know because racing has been hampered by the max grip package NASCAR ran with from 2019 to 2021. The Next Gen car may be tough at Michigan. It’s not Fontana, but Michigan could be more volatile than other intermediate track races this season.

Bubba Wallace disagrees. He was one of Michigan’s June tire testers along with Austin Dillon and Joey Logano. Not much has changed for him in the Next Gen car at Michigan. There was very little time off the throttle and it was wide open for most of the session. Wallace expects the typical Michigan race with very little overtaking unless Goodyear brings in the softer tire he recommended. He seemed to think that they would bring the hardest and safest tires. This will likely be the case, as this is how incentives align. Goodyear gains nothing by designing a fast-dropping soft tire, but they risk another bust at Indianapolis 2008 where the race can’t stay green due to tire degradation. If a hard tire is implemented, the race is boring, but NASCAR takes all the heat.

Race Winner — FireKeepers Casino 400

Christopher Bell +1500

To cut or not to cut? That is the question. The No. 20 JGR Toyota has been one of the best cars in qualifying this season. From late May through early June, Bell ranked third, first, third, and third at four consecutive intermediate tracks. Michigan is a high-speed track. Teams will be looking to reduce resistance in any way they can. Lowering the rear end won’t sacrifice grip this weekend on the track at full throttle and will add speed. Once again, these cars will look like speedboats with their noses pointing up. On a fast lap, clean air is channeled through the nose and into the rear diffuser, adding grip as designed in the wind tunnel for top speed. In dirty air, the uneven distribution of air across the nose results in erratic downforce distribution and cars lose cornering grip. Basically, you can’t pass it at Michigan, regardless of the package (unless NASCAR maxes out the power like old times and eliminates most of the downforce components altogether). This is the long way of saying that Bell has a good chance to get to the pole. From there, he has a huge advantage.

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The driver who wins the pole wins the race +700

There are many reasons to like pole sitters. The polesitter gets the No. 1 pit lane and races are won on pit road, especially at tracks with limited passing opportunities like Michigan. Races are also won or lost on restarts. The 550 pack is gone, so the leader is less reliant on jostling. The leader can make a good launch and drive away in the Next Gen car. At Michigan, the bottom rut is quicksand. The polesitter will pull away and the Next Gen car will power up fast in clear air on regular tracks, but that advantage will be exaggerated at Michigan. It’s reasonable to believe that winning the pole and being clean on pit road will be enough to win on Sunday.

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Any Joe Gibbs Racing Car to win the race +150

After Talladega in late April, the track began racing classic intermediate ovals. In the eight races since the beginning of May, the JGR Toyotas have been the fastest. Trust your eyes or trust the data. Highlighted in this time frame are actual ratings (my own statistical creation that comprehensively synthesizes a driver’s laps) for JGR drivers. Four of the top 5 drivers are JGR drivers: Kyle Busch (0.87, 1st), Martin Truex (0.87, 1st), Christopher Bell (0.85, 3rd) and Denny Hamlin (0.79, 5th) . With two road courses and a plate race recently, it’s easy to forget how good JGR has been. This is why Real Rating is a useful metric.

Team Joe Gibbs to finish in the Top 10 +400

If +150 isn’t appealing, then this could be a more lucrative offer. This bet is not so much a speed or skill bet. It is a bet against bad luck. All four JGR drivers should finish in the top 10, but will each driver avoid bad luck? This is a bet against penalties or a bad set of tires.

Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin will finish in the top 5 +300

If +150 isn’t enough and the entire Joe Gibbs Team to Finish in the Top 10 is too volatile, then this bet splits the spread. Instead of calling for four drivers to fend off misfortune, this bet only requires two. Hamlin and Busch have fast cars, and possibly illegal cars (Draft Kings sports betting honored Hamlin’s victory at Pocono).

Bubba Wallace and Daniel Suarez will finish in the top 5 +2000

This one is a little deeper, but it’s not crazy. Suarez and Wallace aren’t the best drivers in the Cup Series, but this isn’t a driver’s track. Michigan is about machines, not men. There is a sympathetic relationship between the Toyota 23XI and the Toyota JGR. Both teams are showing an incredible amount of speed. It doesn’t matter if Wallace has the makings to be a Cup Series star this weekend at a track where drivers hit the throttle and spin. Similarly, Suarez drives a Trackhouse rocket. He finished fifth at Pocono and ninth at New Hampshire. Bubba finished tenth at Pocono and third at New Hampshire. Every team is building fast cars and every driver’s confidence is through the roof. Additionally, Bubba participated in the Michigan tire test.

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All betting odds provided by Draft Kings sports betting and all odds are subject to change.

I’m a promoter at DraftKings and I’m also an avid fan and user (my username is greenflagradio2) and sometimes I can play on my personal account in the games I offer tips on. Although I have expressed my personal opinion on the above games and strategies, they do not necessarily reflect the opinion(s) of DraftKings. and they do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All clients must use their own skill and judgment in creating lineups. I can also implement different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.

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