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NASCAR Picks: NASCAR Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan Best Bets, Odds to Consider on DraftKings Sportsbook

Pearce Dietrich gives his top NASCAR bets on DraftKings Sportsbook for the NASCAR Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan, which starts on August 7 at 3 p.m. ET.

It’s been years since Michigan was a real race. The low-horsepower, high-downforce car introduced by NASCAR in 2019 put on a poor show at the two-mile intermediate track. Even before that miserable racing package, the racing in Michigan was suspect. Will the Next Gen car bring Michigan back to life?

As always, trust the spreadsheet but also trust your eyes. Here are the best bets for the NASCAR Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan, which gets underway Sunday, August 7 at 3 p.m. ET.

Place your NASCAR bets on DraftKings Sportsbook and bet online by downloading the DraftKings Sportsbook app.

Michigan is a two-mile intermediate track. It’s similar in design to Fontana (Auto Club) but the divergent track surfaces make these tracks race differently. Fontana feels like a giant dirt track. Not surprisingly, the 2022 race was dominated by dirt racers — Tyler Reddick, Chase Briscoe and Kyle Larson. Michigan was repaved in 2012. It’s a high-speed track with one groove and few passing opportunities. Could the Next Gen car cure what ails this troubled northern track?

The last high-horsepower, low-downforce Michigan race was in 2018. It wasn’t that great, but several winters have passed. The track has aged. No one would know because the racing has been hampered by the max grip package that NASCAR raced from 2019 to 2021. It’s possible that the Next Gen car could be a handful at Michigan. It’s not Fontana, but Michigan could be more volatile than other intermediate track races this season.

Bubba Wallace disagrees. He was one of the Michigan tire testers in June along with Austin Dillon and Joey Logano. Not much has changed for him in the Next Gen car at Michigan. There was very little off-throttle time and he was wide open for most of the session. Wallace expects the typical Michigan race with very little passing unless Goodyear brings the softer tire that he recommended. He seemed to think that they would bring the harder and safer tires. This will likely be the case as it is how the incentives align. Goodyear gains nothing from designing a soft tire with rapid fall off, but they risk another Indianapolis 2008 fiasco where the race cannot stay green because of tire degradation. If a hard tire is implemented, the racing is boring but NASCAR takes all of the heat.

Race Winner — FireKeepers Casino 400

Christopher Bell +1500

To trim out or not trim out? That is the question. The No. 20 JGR Toyota has been one of the best cars in qualifying this season. In late May through early June, Bell qualified third, first, third and third at four straight intermediate tracks. Michigan is a high speed track. Teams will look to reduce drag in any way that they can. Lowering the backend will not sacrifice grip this weekend at the full throttle track and it will add speed. Once again, these cars will look like speed boats with their noses pointed upward. On a hot lap, the clean air funnels through the nose and to the rear diffuser adding grip as designed in the wind tunnel for maximum speed. In dirty air, the uneven distribution of air through the nose produces an erratic distribution of downforce and the cars lose grip in the turns. Basically, there’s no passing at Michigan regardless of the package (unless NASCAR maxed out the horsepower like the old days and completely removed most of the aero-downforce components). This is the long way of saying, Bell has a good shot at the pole. From there, he has a huge advantage.

Weekly Specials

Driver That Wins the Pole Wins the Race +700

There are plenty of reasons to like pole sitters. The pole sitter has the No. 1 pit stall and races are won on pit road, especially at tracks with limited passing opportunities like Michigan. Races are also won or lost on restarts. The 550 package is gone, so the leader is less dependent on pushes. The leader can get a good launch and drive away in the Next Gen car. At Michigan, the bottom groove is quicksand. The pole sitter will pull away and the Next Gen car is lighting fast in clear air at regular tracks, but that edge will be exaggerated at Michigan. It’s reasonable to believe that winning the pole and being clean on pit road will be enough to win on Sunday,

For NASCAR insight and quick DFS help, follow Pearce Dietrich (@race4theprize) on Twitter.

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Any Joe Gibbs Racing Car to Win the Race +150

After Talladega in late April, the circuit began to run classic intermediate track ovals. In the eight races since the beginning of May, the JGR Toyotas have been the fastest. Trust your eyes or trust the data. Over this span, the Real Ratings (my own statistical creation that comprehensively synthesizes a driver’s laps) for the JGR drivers stand out. Four of the top-5 drivers are JGR drivers — Kyle Busch (0.87; first), Martin Truex (0.87; first), Christopher Bell (0.85; third) and Denny Hamlin (0.79; fifth). With two road courses and a plate race recently, it is easy to forget how good JGR has been. That’s why Real Rating is a useful metric.

Team Joe Gibbs to Finish in the Top 10 +400

If +150 isn’t appealing, then this could be a more lucrative offer. This bet is not so much a bet of speed or skill. It’s a bet against bad luck. All four JGR drivers should earn a top-10 finish, but will each driver avoid bad luck? This is a bet against penalties or a bad set of tires.

Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin to Both Finish Top 5 +300

If +150 isn’t enough and all of Team Joe Gibbs to Finish in the Top 10 is too volatile, then this bet splits the difference. Instead of asking for four drivers to dodge misfortune, this bet only requires two. Hamlin and Busch have fast cars — and possibly illegal cars (DraftKings Sportsbook honored the Hamlin win at Pocono).

Bubba Wallace and Daniel Suarez to Both Finish Top 5 +2000

This one is a little deeper, but it’s not crazy. Suarez and Wallace are not the best drivers in the Cup Series, but this isn’t a driver’s track. Michigan is about machine not man. There is a simpatico relationship between the 23XI Toyotas and JGR Toyotas. Both teams are showing an incredible amount of speed. Whether Wallace has the stuff to be a Cup Series star doesn’t matter this weekend at a track where drivers stand on the throttle and turn laps. Similarly, Suarez is driving a Trackhouse rocket. He finished fifth at Pocono and ninth at New Hampshire. Bubba finished 10th at Pocono and third at New Hampshire. Each team is building fast cars and each driver’s confidence is through the roof. Also, Bubba participated in the Michigan tire test.

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All betting odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.

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