Things continue to heat up as NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series moves closer to the start of this year’s Chase. This week the series returns to Michigan International Speedway for the Pure Michigan 400. Sunday’s race is set to start at 10:20 a.m. (PT) and it will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.
AJ Allmendinger threw his name into the mix for this year’s Chase with a stunning victory last week at Watkins Glen as a huge longshot. Marcos Ambrose turned in another strong showing on a road course by taking second and Kurt Busch finished third. I went with the 10/1 odds on Jimmie Johnson as my NASCAR value pick for that race but he finished a disappointing 28th after starting third.
The following is a look at a few of the top favorites to win this Sunday’s race along with my top value pick based on odds provided by Hollywood Sportsbook
Jimmie Johnson has already secured a spot in this year’s Chase with three previous Sprint Cup victories this season and he is favored to win his fourth point race this week at +500. Despite the earlier success with three wins in a span of four Sprint Cup events including the first race at Michigan in mid-June, there has to be some concern with a No. 48 race team that has not even cracked the top 10 in its last five trips around the track. Johnson’s earlier win at this track was the first of his career here and his average finishing position at Michigan is 16.2.
Brad Keselowski has also posted three Sprint Cup victories this season and he comes into this race as one of two second-favorites to win this week at +600. The No. 2 car is currently in fourth-place in the Sprint Cup standings with 696 total points and it has six additional top-five finishes to go along with those three wins. Keselowski is coming off a strong third-place finish at Michigan in the first race this season and he placed second in this race in 2012. He has never won a Sprint Cup race at this track, but he has now finished third or better in three of his last six races here.
The other second-favorite at +600 to win this race is Kevin Harvick. He is a solid candidate for this year’s Chase with two previous Sprint Cup victories and the No. 4 car is sitting in eighth-place in the standings with 645 points. The other impressive thing about this team is the 899 laps it has led this season through the first 22 point races on the schedule. Adding even more value to these odds is Harvick’s second-place finish at Michigan earlier this year. This was his third-straight second-place finish in a Sprint Cup race at this track so you get the feeling he is due.
Top Value Pick
There has already been a number of surprising victories this season by drivers with longer odds, but I am sticking with a proven veteran as this week’s value pick. Kyle Busch has already had his share of ups and downs this season, but anytime you can get +1500 odds on him winning any race it is worth a second look. The No. 18 car has dropped down the point standings the past few weeks, but his previous victory at Fontana should still be enough to land this team into the Chase. Michigan is not one of Busch’s favorite tracks which explains the high odds. He finished 41st in the first race here this year and 31st in last year’s race; however he also won this race in 2011 and finished fourth in the first race at Michigan in 2013.