NASCAR Betting Guide: FireKeepers Casino 400
Line shopping is always important when you're betting. But it's paramount this week.
Betting odds for Sunday's FireKeepers Casino 400 are largely efficient. Michigan is a track where speed reigns supreme, and we've got a good grasp for who has it at this point in the year.
In other words, our edge this week isn't all that large. Thus, we've gotta do whatever we can to increase it. That means tailoring our bets to whichever platform we're betting on.
At some books, Ross Chastain is +1000 to win. He's a value there.
At others, you can get Kurt Busch -- assuming he's cleared to race -- at +4000. That's a mighty fine number (UPDATE: Busch has since announced he will miss his third consecutive race due to a concussion; Ty Gibbs will continue to sub for Busch).
At FanDuel Sportsbook, Chastain is +900, and Busch is +2600. My numbers show slight value even at those lowered marks, but it's not enough for me to pull the trigger on the outright. So, you won't see those guys outlined here because the edge isn't big enough. But if you have other books available to you where you can get a larger edge, they're awesome options.
Here, we'll run through which drivers are values based on FanDuel's markets. Then, we'll circle back after qualifying where hopefully markets will become less efficient and we can snag some extra values.
Denny Hamlin to Podium (+210)
(UPDATE: Hamlin's podium odds have since shortened to +185. I'm still showing value there, but the better value now lies in his outright. I have him at 15.3% to win versus 13.3% implied at +650, so even though the number looks short, I still think it's a good bet.)
The optimal spot for betting Denny Hamlin is BetRivers. Not only is he +800 to win there (versus +750 at FanDuel), but he's +235 to podium. I'm showing value in both spots, and I'm showing value on his win odds even at +750. But if you're limited to betting just FanDuel, I'm betting his podium market, even with the number being crazy short.
This is because Hamlin has been stupid good on the fast tracks recently. Hamlin has crossed the finish line first in two straight races on non-drafting tracks 1.5 miles or longer, and he was fourth the race before that. Granted, he was disqualified at Pocono, so he has just one actual podium in that time, but he has constantly been blazing.
As a result of that, Hamlin leads the current form section of my model. He also grades out well in the track history section despite having no wins at Michigan since 2011. He has been runner-up twice in the past four races, and he had a top-five average running position in another race during that stretch.
My model has Hamlin as the most likely winner this week, and I'm not inclined to push back on it. Even at +210, I think his podium odds here are underselling how big of a threat he should be on Sunday.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to Finish Top 10 (+280)
(UPDATE: Stenhouse has since lengthened back to +295 to finish top-10. His speed in practice was super underwhelming, so my model has his top-10 odds down to 21.8%. This is a stay-away if you didn't bet it earlier in the week.)
Once again, shop around before betting this. You can still find Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at +350 to finish top 10, and he has shortened at FanDuel since opening at +370. But if you couldn't get in on the action before, I'm still showing value at this new number.
My model puts Stenhouse's top-10 odds at 31.3%. That's five percentage points higher than his implied mark of 26.3% at +280. Among non-longshots, he's the only guy on the board showing even a smidge of value for me.
The model's enthusiasm comes from the giddy-up Stenhouse has shown at high-speed tracks this year. In five races at non-drafting bigger tracks, Stenhouse has three top-10 finishes and four top-14 average running positions. That's despite qualifying poorly in two of those races.
Because of the poor qualifying efforts, you could hold off on betting Stenhouse. He hasn't started higher than 15th since the third race of the year. But I'd rather lock this one in now at the best number you can find because it's hard to pass up any value at a track where markets are so efficient.
Mid-Week Addition: Ross Chastain to Win (+1000)
(UPDATE: Chastain has since lengthened to +1500 to win. My model lowered his win odds to 5.1% after practice -- mostly due to massive speed from the Toyotas -- so I'd avoid this one if you didn't already bet it.)
As mentioned above, I thought Ross Chastain was a value at +1000. Not only did he lengthen to that number at FanDuel, but his win odds went up in my model. So I'll happily bite on the outright now.
The win odds going up was a result of the aforementioned announcement that Kurt Busch would miss the race. My model had Busch's win odds at almost 4.0%. As talented as Ty Gibbs is, it's hard for my model to view a 19-year-old driver as being a one-for-one replacement for a guy who had already won in the Cup Series this year. Thus, the swap opened up win equity in the field.
When I re-ran my model, Chastain's win odds were 12.0%, up from his implied mark of 9.1%. And yet, Chastain's odds lengthened due to FanDuel (seemingly) catching some steam on Bubba Wallace, who shortened to +1800 to win. The Wallace movement makes sense, but Chastain shouldn't have been the one to lengthen.
In five races at bigger, non-drafting tracks this year, Chastain has had a fourth-place average running position twice, and he nearly won in Pocono a few weeks ago. He has the speed and the talent to have better odds than this.
The best argument against Chastain is that we should wait to bet him until Saturday night. Chastain hasn't qualified inside the top 10 in any of our five relevant races, so it's possible he lengthens once again. But I just have a hard time turning down almost three percentage points of value, so I'm locking in Chastain now in order to not risk it.
Mid-Week Addition: Joey Logano Over Kevin Harvick (-118)
Michigan is a track where speed wins. Across the season, it has been evident that Stewart-Haas Racing's Speed falls short of Team Penske's, allowing us to favor Joey Logano over Kevin Harvick.
In the five relevant races, Logano's aggregate average running position is 12.6; Harvick's is 16.8. Harvick's best average running position in that subset (12th) would rank fourth among Logano's top runs. The speed edge very much belongs to Logano.
One counterpoint could be track history as Harvick has won four of the past six Michigan races. But those all came at a time when SHR was the dominant organization at high-speed tracks. That has very much not been the case the past two years. Plus, Logano's no slouch here, having won three times at Michigan himself.
To put it simply, Logano's faster than Harvick, and that's what matters most this week. I'm more than happy to put money down based on that premise.
Post-Qualifying Addition: Kyle Larson Over Chase Elliott (+112)
My model was very into Kyle Larson entering the week as he was second behind Hamlin in the current-form section of my model. This allows me to bet on him without having to deal with Toyota's speed, which I'll happily take.
Chase Elliott had better speed than Larson during practice, ranking fifth in five-lap average while Larson was 10th. But Larson out-qualified Elliott, showing there is speed in that car, helping alleviate some of the practice concerns.
Larson used to dominate Michigan even when he was in mid-tier equipment. It suits his style well. So with my model favoring Larson here straight up, I'll take the plus money for sure.