Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:04 AM
Best Bets - Michigan
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Each week during the Monster Energy Cup Series (MENCS) regular season through the Chase, we'll take a look at the best Fantasy plays, as well as Futures and Wagers when applicable, to get you ready for the upcoming race week.
The MENCS rolls into the Michigan International Speedway for Firekeepers Casino 400, the first of two races scheduled for the Irish Hills this season. They'll also be back at the track for the Consumers Energy 400 on Aug. 12. This weekend's race goes off at 2:00 p.m. ET on FOX.
Stewart-Haas Racing's Kevin Harvick (5/2) is listed as the favorite for this weekend's race in Michigan, and he checks in fifth in Driver Rating over the past five starts at the track with a mark of 107.0, according to NASCAR's Loop Data. He hasn't won at the track since the Carfax 400 back in Aug. 2010, but he has come awfully close to checkers in recent seasons. Harvick was the runner-up in the Irish Hills in four consecutive races from June 2013 to Aug. 2014, and he has seven Top 5 shows over his past 10 starts at the track. He has made 34 starts in Michigan with a win, 10 Top 5s, 15 Top 10s and 323 laps led while posting an impressive 12.7 Average-Finish Position (AFP). He will go off fourth in Sunday's race.
Kyle Larson (11/2) will be gunning for his fourth consecutive checkered flag at the track. For whatever reason he has owned this track, as he and his team have dominated the fuel mileage game. He has made eight starts at the track, posting the three wins, four Top 5s and five Top 10s with 149 laps led and a 10.9 AFP. With three straight wins it's no surprise that he shows first in Driver Rating (115.3) across the past five starts. As such he will be a very popular betting selection, although the streak has to come to an end sooner or later. As far as DFS is concerned, the No. 42 will also appear on plenty of rosters. He will start from the 26th position and is likely to scoot up through the pack rapidly, earning plenty of Place Differential points. Teammate Jamie McMurray (100/1) is considered a longshot, although he enters the weekend with four consecutive Top 10 showings at the track. Jamie Mac has 30 career starts at MIS with nine Top 10s and 21 Top 20s, posting a respectable 17.1 AFP. While he isn't a great option for bettors, McMurray is decent as a DFS play for your No. 5 or 6 spot.
Hendrick Motorsport's Chase Elliott (20/1) is a young gun who has been a little off this season. A run at Michigan could be just want he needs to snap him into form and get him going. He has been rather erratic lately, finishing 17th or worse in three of the past four outings. However, he has made four starts at Michigan with three runner-up finishes and all four of his starts resulting in a Top 10 showing. He has posted a 113.9 Driver Rating during the span, running an amazing 96.0 percent of his laps inside the Top 15 to lead all drivers over the past five runs. He has an AFP of 6.3, which is also better than any other driver across the past five starts.
Furniture Row Racing's Martin Truex Jr. (4/1) picked up a victory at Pocono, and the 2017 MENCS champ is looking to continue his solid racing in Michigan. He checks in third in Driver Rating (109.6) across the past five starts at MIS, posting 136 laps led while logging an 8.6 AFP during the stretch. He has had spotty success at Michigan in his 24 career starts, rattling off Top 5 finishes in six of his races at the track while posting just one DNF. He has managed a 15.4 AFP in 24 career starts with just 207 laps led. That might not instill a lot of confidence in MTJ this weekend, but he was second and sixth in his two starts at Michigan last season.
Matt Kenseth (Field - 25/1) will be back in a Cup car this weekend, making his fourth appearance in the No. 6 ride for Roush-Fenway Racing. He will hop behind the wheel in place of Trevor Bayne this weekend, as well as again at Darlington on Sept. 2. His results to date have been middling, but he could make some noise at the track he has had plenty of success in the past. Kenseth has rattled off eight Top 20 showings over his past 10 starts, and he has three wins in 37 career starts at the track. His last win came as recently as Aug. 2015 in Michigan, but he is a longshot this weekend for bettors. DFS owners might like to roll the dice on him given his respectable 10.8 career AFP in the Irish Hills.
The stable of cars at Joe Gibbs Racing will also be very popular picks. Erik Jones (22/1) was 13th in his first Cup race last season, and third last summer. It would be wise to have plenty of exposure to Jones in cash games based on his 8.0 AFP last season. Teammate Denny Hamlin (16/1) hasn't been able to break through for a victory in Michigan, but has come close. He kicked off his season with a third-place run in Daytona, and eight Top 10s so far. That includes a fourth-place showing in last season's spring race in the Irish Hills. In 24 career races at the track he has two wins, 11 Top 0s and a strong 14.8 AFP with 174 laps led.
As far as championship contender Kyle Busch (7/2), this hasn't been one of his best tracks. He has made 26 career starts with just one victory, only four Top 5s, eight Top 10s and a dismal 19.5 AFP. He has also conked out for three DNFs, although he did post a solid 8.5 AFP in two starts at the track last season. His brother, SHR's Kurt Busch (28/1) will be on the pole this weekend, but he has been erratic over the years at the track, too. The elder Busch does have three checkered flags at Michigan, but he has also eight DNFs at the track to lead all active drivers. He has been feast or famine in Michigan over the years, although he has leveled out with an 11.3 AFP over his past four starts.
Michigan native Brad Keselowski (12/1) is one to watch for Penske Racing this weekend, as the Rochester Hills resident tries to steer Ford back to Victory Lane. He has never won at his home track in 17 starts, but he has rattled off five Top 5s and eight Top 10s with an AFP of 12.8. Teammate Joey Logano (14/1) has broken through for two wins for the manufacturer, and he has 12 Top 10s in his 18 career starts. He was third in the spring race last June, but he limped home with a 28th-place showing in the summer to snap a nine-start streak of 10th or better at the track.
Lastly, if you were expecting Michigan to be the track where Jimmie Johnson (40/1) finally gets on track you might be wasting your money. He has made 32 career starts the track, winning the Quicken Loans 400 in June 2014, but he also has a very ordinary 16.3 AFP with three DNFs and 19 runs outside of the Top 10.
Aric Almirola (40/1) had a strong run at Pocono and looks to carry the momentum over to this weekend's race. Unfortunately for Almirola, he has 11 career starts and a dismal 20.2 AFP at MIS, and his best career finish is 12th. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (100/1) is also a risky play based on his Michigan history. He has 10 starts under his belt, but just one Top 10 and a 21.0 AFP.