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Drivers to Watch - Michigan

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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 Preview

The NASCAR circuit takes on a second straight long track on Sunday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway. This 2-mile D-shaped oval track was built in 1968 and remains one of the fastest tracks out there. Banking is 18° for all four turns, with a frontstretch of 3,600 feet (0.68 miles) banked at 12° and a much flatter 5° backstretch measuring 2,242 feet (0.43 miles). Since 2006, there has been only four repeat winners over these 16 races at Michigan, Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle, who won last year's Quicken Loans 400, each have two wins during this stretch.

Drivers to Watch

Denny Hamlin (15/1) - Hamlin has been in a slump at Michigan with five straight non-top-10's at this track, but before this slide, he had ripped off five consecutive top-10's, including two wins (2010 & 2011), a runner-up and a third-place showing. Hamlin's average finish of 15.0 at this track ranks eighth-best among active drivers, which is why he carried a much less favorable 10-to-1 price at last spring's Quicken Loans 400. The No. 11 car has also been racing quite well over the past five starts, climbing from 14th to 8th in the points standings based on a win at Talladega and back-to-back top-5 finishes (5th at Dover, 4th at Pocono). At 15-to-1, Hamlin is clearly the best value on the board, and should be given your largest wager as our pick to win Sunday's race.

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Jimmie Johnson (7/1)
- Johnson continued his rapid ascent towards the top of the points standings last week, as his 6th-place showing at Pocono marked his fourth straight top-9 finish. He now has eight top-6's this season, and has led for multiple laps in 11 of his 14 starts. Johnson has actually never won at Michigan in 24 tries, but he's come awfully close with nine top-10's and four top-5's. And since 2007, Johnson has led for multiple laps in 11-of-14 races at this track. With odds nearly twice as favorable from the 4-to-1 billing he had for both 2013 Michigan races, put down a significant wager on Johnson to end his drought at this track on Sunday.

Greg Biffle (20/1) - Biffle knows how important this race is, as he is looking to stop a slide of four straight finishes outside the top-15. Luckily for the No. 16 car, this is the perfect venue for a slump-buster, as Biffle has the third-best average finish among active drivers at Michigan (11.2). This number is so impressive due to his four victories at this track, including two of his past three starts, and five other 4th-place finishes, the last of which came in 2012. Biffle has led for more than 25 laps in seven consecutive starts at this venue, which is why he had 10-to-1 odds to win at Michigan last fall when he placed ninth. With odds doubling that race on Sunday, Biffle is worthy of a small wager this weekend.

Kasey Kahne (12/1) - He has been wildly inconsistent at this track with nine top-7 finishes, and seven finishes of 28th or worse over his 20 Michigan starts. He has had some bad luck with an engine failure in 2008 and crashes in each of the past two spring races at this venue. But despite starting 31st at the 2013 Pure Michigan 400, Kahne still finished seventh. He has also run into some bad luck recently with a pair of crashes over his past seven races, including last week at Pocono, which sent him out of the top-20 in the points standings. But although Kahne's odds aren't extremely favorable on Sunday, the fact that he went off at 7-to-1 in both Michigan races last year makes me think his 12-to-1 price is worthy of laying a one-unit wager on.

Martin Truex Jr. (60/1) - None of the longshots are particularly enticing, but as a value play, it's tough to beat Truex Jr. whose odds are four times more favorable on Sunday than they were last fall when he was tabbed at 15-to-1. Truex Jr. has a strong 15.7 average finish in his career at Michigan, which ranks 10th-best among active drivers. This has happened because of five top-10's, three top-5's and only 4-of-16 finishes outside the top-20. Truex is also turning around a disappointing start to the 2014 season with a 6th-place finish at Dover and a ninth-place showing last week at Pocono. With such lofty odds, Truex could pay huge dividends on Sunday.

Betting Odds - Provided by Sportsbook.ag

Jimmie Johnson 7/1
Kevin Harvick 7/1
Joey Logano 8/1
Brad Keselowski 8/1
Matt Kenseth 10/1
Jeff Gordon 10/1
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 10/1
Tony Stewart 12/1
Kasey Kahne 12/1
Kyle Busch 12/1
Carl Edwards 15/1
Kurt Busch 15/1
Denny Hamlin 15/1
Greg Biffle 20/1
Clint Bowyer 25/1
Kyle Larson 25/1
Brian Vickers 30/1
Ryan Newman 35/1
Field (Any Other Driver) 60/1
Martin Truex Jr. 60/1
Jamie McMurray 60/1
Austin Dillon 100/1
Paul Menard 100/1
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 100/1
Aric Almirola 200/1
Marcos Ambrose 200/1
Danica Patrick 200/1
AJ Allmendinger 300/1
Trevor Bayne 300/1
Casey Mears 300/1

  
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