The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Michigan this weekend for a double-header. Michigan races are usually exciting, and both Ford and Chevrolet drivers want to bring home the win for their nearby manufacturers.
Michigan is a two-mile banked oval. It’s structured like Auto Club Speedway in California, so I’ll group driver performances at both tracks when making my predictions.
Manufacturer of Winning Car: Ford (-108)
Ford Performance takes a lot of pride in its Michigan track record, and rightfully so. The manufacturer has won at least one Michigan race in 37 of its 51 years in use, and they’ve earned 13 season sweeps. Last year, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano combined to win the sweep.
The last time Ford lost a Michigan race was in 2017 when Kyle Larson swept both races at the track. Ford has not lost to a driver other than Kyle Larson since 2015.
Three of the four betting favorites this weekend drive Fords: Kevin Harvick (+450), Joey Logano (+700), and Brad Keselowski (+800). Also, both Ryan Blaney (+1000) and Aric Almirola (+1400) are close behind.
While Ford didn’t win at Auto Club back in March, the Chevrolets that dominated back then have fallen off considerably. The odds could be better on this line, but you’re getting five of the drivers who are likeliest to win, and I can only see Denny Hamlin or Martin Truex Jr. causing it to bust.
To Finish Top-5: Ryan Blaney (+150) OR Top-10: Ryan Blaney (-230)
I’m chalking Blaney up for two of my picks, as he’s my favorite driver for this weekend’s race. You can take him to win (+1000), but it might be smarter to couch your bet a bit, as he’s struggled to finish races.
Blaney had a streak of three consecutive top-10s (including one top-5) until his 24th-place finish last August. And despite his poor finish, he still led several laps and posted a strong driver rating. His 15.5th-place average finish ranks just ninth, but that rate jumps to 11.5th if you only count his four races with Team Penske.
The biggest reason to pick Blaney, however, is his 2020 track record at Auto Club — and other intermediate tracks. Back in March, he led 54 of 200 laps on his way to a second-best driver rating. Only Alex Bowman did better, but Hendrick Motorsports has struggled on intermediates of late.
In contrast, Blaney has led laps in seven of eight races held at 1.5-mile tracks (which feature the same horsepower/downforce package that we’ll see at Michigan), and he’s got an average finish of 7.21. He’s posted three top fives and five top tens in that span. The long odds for him to finish top five are a great value, but if you’re concerned about him choking again, the top-ten line gives you more breathing room.
To Finish Top-10: Kurt Busch (+100)
Kurt Busch is one of the best racers at two-mile ovals. He has earned three top-fives and five top-tens in 10 races since 2017 — that’s good for an average finish of 10.4. Kurt barely missed the top ten in two of those races, as he finished 11th and 12th in 2017. Oh, and he also has the sixth-best driver rating at Michigan since 2017.
Unlike his brother, Kyle, Kurt Busch is in good form. He’s finished top ten in 12 of 20 races this year, and that includes a third-place result at Auto Club. Although Chevrolet has fallen off of late, that hasn’t shown in Busch’s results, as he has three top-tens in the previous four races.
Since Kurt has yet to win in 2020, he needs all the points that he can get. He sits at ninth in the standings, and while he’s over 100 points above the cut line, a few bad races and some first-time winners could put him at risk. Busch has the record, equipment, and incentive to finish well on Sunday, so take the veteran at tossup odds this weekend.
Grid Position of Race Winner: Under 6.5 (-125)
Six of the best bets to win this race start in the top six: 1. Joey Logano (+700), 2. Denny Hamlin (+550), 3. Kevin Harvick (+450), Aric Almirola (+1400), Brad Keselowski (+800), and Alex Bowman (+3000). These six drivers have won 15 of the 20 races this season, and all of those with multiple wins find themselves on this list.
The big names excluded from this line? 7. Kyle Busch (+1000), 8. Chase Elliott (+900), Ryan Blaney (+1000), and Martin Truex Jr. (+850). The first two of these guys have seen their stocks fall in recent weeks, while the last two are the only serious contenders to upset this line.
Also, the winner of four of the last six Michigan races started in the top six — only Clint Bowyer (12th, 2018) and Kyle Larson (9th, 2017) won from further back.
This line carries an implied probability of 55.6. If you added up the lines of each driver listed individually, you’d get 67.1. As a result, this line is much more cost-effective than taking out a series of individual bets on the potential winners. Punch it in with confidence at DraftKings Sportsbook.
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