Pure Michigan 400, Odds and Predictions
by Tony Sink - 8/15/2014
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Brooklyn, Michigan, this week for the Pure Michigan 400.
Jimmie Johnson surprised everyone by winning at Michigan for the first time in his career in the June race. In that June race, Johnson came in as the 7-to-1 co-favorite. Since he finally got the Michigan monkey off his back, Johnson opened at the LVH SuperBook as the 5-to-1 favorite to win this week's Pure Michigan 400. Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon and Joey Logano all had great races here.
Michigan is one of the fastest race tracks on the circuit. We know what teams have generated the most horsepower this season, and it’s been just about any team running the Hendrick Chevy engines, which include Hendrick Motorsports, Chip Ganassi Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing. All four Hendrick drivers finished seventh or better in the June race. The Penske Fords have been just as good, but there are only two of them compared to the Chevy masses. The drivers from these organizations will be the drivers to watch Sunday.
Fuel mileage will also be important at Michigan. The tires did not wear out in the last race, so teams will have the option of taking two tires without losing much track position. Teams that do take two tires may gain track position but lose out on a full tank of fuel. There will be many different strategies played out in the race Sunday. Teams with a savvy crew chief will have the advantage.
Here are my picks for the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan.
The Winner: Kevin Harvick (6 to 1)
Harvick has five second-place finishes, including the June race at Michigan. In fact, he’s finished second at Michigan in three consecutive races. He has the best driver rating at Michigan and he has a great chance to win the race.
Don’t Overlook: Brad Keselowski (6 to 1)
Keselowski is from Michigan and always has this course at the top of his favorites. His stats on the intermediate race tracks are great. Keselowski has been enjoying a strong stretch of racing at Michigan recently. He has reeled off six straight Top-15 finishes at the track, compiling a 7.5 average finish in the process. During the same stretch, he has three Top-3 finishes, including a third-place run earlier this year.
Stay Away: Tony Stewart (15 to 1)
Even though Stewart has been solid at Michigan during his career, it’s just hard to imagine Stewart being able to focus 100 percent on racing after all that has gone on, and from that standpoint, the safest approach is to wait and see how he performs. In fact, it hasn't been officially confirmed that he will return to the track this weekend.
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