A dominant Chris Buescher won RTX Racing's first race in the season after leading the Cook Out 400 for 88 laps. It was an incredible display from the 30-year-old. It was also only his third win of his nine-year NASCAR career.
With the win, Buescher and his no.17 car booked their ticket to the Cup Series playoffs. That's 12 of 16 spots accounted for. This weekend at Michigan can another driver lock up one of the four remaining spots?
Denny Hamlin is currently the favorite at +550. Kyle Larson and William Byron round out the top 3 at +700 and +800 respectively.
FireKeepers Casino 400 Odds
|Martin Truex Jr.||+800|
Odds as of August 2
Why Is Denny Hamlin Favored to Win The FireKeepers Casino 400?
Hamiln has had a strong career at Michigan. In 32 races, he's finished in the top 10 a total of 17 times, the top 5 eleven times, and won it twice. His 12.6 average finish is the seventh-best average for any track where he's driven more than 20 times.
Oh, and since 2020, Hamlin holds the best average finish at a flat 4.0 at Michigan.
And while some of you NASCAR sharps out there will rightly point out that Hamlin hasn't won at this track since 2011, I'll counter with his recent run. He's finished no lower than sixth since 2019 and on the podium three times in that span.
That run of form is giving oddsmakers the confidence to back Hamlin to not only perform well but to win the whole damn thing for the first time in 12 years.
FireKeepers Casino 400: Value Bets
Kevin Harvick (+850)
Boy-o-boy does good ol' Kevin need this race. With 634 points, Havick is currently ranked sixth in the NASCAR Cup standings. But without a win, he's projected to enter the playoffs in 12th place.
You have to bet Harvick and his team have circled this race on the calendar. The FireKeeper Casino 400 could be Harvick's playoff guarantee.
Over his career, he's won at Michigan six times. Since February 2020, Harvick has won here three times. In 2022, he battled all the way from 16th to capture the checkered flag. In 2020 he did the same, starting all the way at the back of the pack in 20th and eventually taking the flag.
Harvick has the motivation and the form to win this race.
Joey logano (+1400)
Joey isn't having a great year. He's booked his place in the playoffs with a win on the season but sits 10th in the standings with 609 points. Getting a second win could help him get a cushier spot in the standings as the season draws to a close.
He's already won here three times in his career and has a respectable 12.5 finish here since 2020.
Logano is in good form finishing 4th at Richmond and second at Loudon just a few weeks ago. I like him to carry that with him into Michigan.
FireKeepers Casino 400: Alternate Bets
Last week for the Cook Out 400 I suggested Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch were good value bets to win. Of course, neither did, but both did finish in the top five. In fact, Hamlin and Busch finished two and three on the day.
I'm suggesting you take Harvick and Logano to make the top 5. Harvick is at +105 while Logano is at +175. It's not the same value to win outright of course but still some really solid value.
NASCAR Cup Series Odds: Keeping Up With Chase Elliott
I know this piece isn't about the Cup Series, but as I've done every week, I check in on our favorite driver Chase Elliott.
At the Cook Out 400, the no.9 car finished the race in 13th, picking up 31 points in the process. With that, Elliot has moved to 20th in the NASCAR standings. My confidence in his ability to make the postseason has waned over the weeks, but that confidence is coming back thanks to Denny Hamlin.
"Bubba Wallace and Chase Elliott are your two final guys."— Pro Talk (@On3ProSports) August 1, 2023
Denny Hamlin is confident the two drivers on the bubble will make it into the #NASCAR Cup Series playoffs 👀https://t.co/YLOet8bOIl pic.twitter.com/f3EIILCEfX
Elliott is averaging 28.6 points per race on the season, that's a better average than 10 drivers currently in a playoff position. Pacing out that average of 28.6 points over the rest of the regular season, Chase will miss out on the playoffs by nine points.
He's going to have to perform well to not only keep up that average but ideally bring that average up. I don't think he'll win at Michigan, though his average finish of 8.8 suggests he'll do well.
I feel comfortable putting a unit on Elliott finishing in the top 10 here. At -140 that's $7 worth of profit on a winning $10 bet. That's a nice and tidy return if you ask me.