NASCAR Best Bets are heading to Michigan! I was traveling Sunday so I missed the majority of the Indy Road Course Race. I got settled and the TV turned on just in time to see the cars coming to the green for the last restart. Oh what chaos! Blaney got turned, Chastain cut the track after missing the first turn and was somehow not immediately flagged. The result was three rookies inside the top 5 and Bubba Wallace earning his first top 5 finish at a road course.
With that hectic finish behind us we head to Michigan, a large flat oval. Michigan is a large flater track, similar in size and banking to Auto Club. Unlike Auto Club however, tire wear at Michigan is minimal as the track was repaved just 10 year ago. This means that while we will consider Auto Club data, it’s not as the most highly correlated track like one might have expected.
Looking at green flag speed, the tracks that have historically correlated best to Michigan are, in descending order Las Vegas, Texas, Kansas, Charlotte, Homestead, and then Auto Club. We have raced at five of these tracks in 2022. So I’m focusing primarily on data from this year. Where I need some help separating close calls I’ve gone back to prior Michigan data.
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#8 Tyler Reddick +1200 | (DraftKings Sporstbook)
So far this year no one has managed to win back to back races. Reddick has a real chance to be the first this week. There is still drama following Reddick’s announcement that he will be going to 23XI in 2024. Things are undoubtedly going to be uncomfortable in the 8 team’s hauler, but last week proves they can still perform.
Turning to the data itself. In my incident adjusted speed metric Reddick was first at Auto Club and second at both Kansas and Charlotte. He didn’t make the main event at Texas and was thirteenth at Las Vegas but I don’t care and neither does my metric. He is the clear number one in my performance metric. The dominant performances Red Dog put on at Kansas, Charlotte, and Auto Club overriding any other poor events. +1200 translates to implied odds of just 7.69%, Reddick has a better than 7.69% chance of winning this race.
#99 Daniel Suárez +3000 | (Caesars Sportsbook)
Suárez hasn’t had great finishes at the most recent intermediate tracks, but he has been sneaky fast. My performance metric has him ranked 11th. That said, there is good reason to think he can be stronger than that. His speed at Auto Club and Vegas was average, but he still managed to put together strong finishes by staying clean. At Kansas and Charlotte he had speed, but incidents took him out of contention. If he puts it all together, as we saw him do once already this year at Sonoma, the 99 team is clearly strong enough to win this race. I’ll gladly put half a unit on him at 30/1 here.
#23 Bubba Wallace +4000 | (Caesars Sportsbook)
Like Suárez, Bubba has been sneaky fast at the recent intermediate tracks. I have him eighth in incident adjusted speed between Kansas and Charlotte. Bubba’s team as a whole is also consistently coming together for what seems like the first time ever right now. The pit penalties that plagued him over the first few races this year have been put to bed by recent crew changes. Bubba has been fast at the most recent relevant tracks, his team is putting together solid finishes, sign me up for half a unit.
#20 Chris Bell +1200 to win the Pole | (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Bell, indeed JGR as a whole, has been insanely fast qualifying at intermediate tracks this year. Bell has won the pole twice at intermediate tracks, first at Vegas and then at Kansas. He was also third at Charlotte where another JGR car, Denny Hamlin won the pole. The qualifying at the All Star Race was unusual, including a pit stop, but another JGR car, Kyle Busch won the pole there. I’ll take half a unit on the JGR car that has won two intermediate poles and somehow still has the longest pole odds for the group.
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