Remember these names: Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, Mark Martin, Joey Logano. That’s your top five from Fontana earlier this season… a very similar track to the one you’ll see this weekend at Michigan. Every year you see solid performances in California carry over to Michigan, but there are still subtle differences that prevent you from simply betting on those five names mentioned earlier. You will see similar names at the top of the charts at both tracks, but some drivers have simply struggled at Michigan (i.e. Burton who finished third at Fontana, but is 0-for-32 at its sister track). With that said, we’ll take a look at both past Michigan performances and this year’s Fontana race to help give you the best chance at making some money this weekend.
Note: The following odds are odds to win, on average from various sportsbooks as of Thursday AM
Kevin Harvick (20/1): Harvick is having a career season, but started and finished midpack in both Michigan races last year. He also hasn’t led a lap since 2003, but at 20/1 you can roll the dice on a driver and team who could be fired up from the Logano episode last week. He did finish second at Fontana.
Denny Hamlin (8/1): Like Kyle Busch, Hamlin hasn’t necessarily set the world on fire at Michigan. In eight starts he’s led just five laps, but unlike Busch he finished in the top 10 in both events last year and can be had at much more reasonable odds.
Kyle Busch (11/2): While the Gibbs cars are the class of the field right now, Lil’ Busch has just three top 10s in his ten starts at Michigan and led just nine laps combined in both races last year. He could easily breakthrough for a win, but there are better options at much better odds.
Jimmie Johnson (7/2): Johnson has started in the top 10 in every Michigan event since 2005 and while he hasn’t had a top 10 since the summer event in 2008, he did lead 279 laps last season. Will be strong, but do you like him enough to take at those odds? I do.
Kurt Busch (12/1): Already has two wins this season and ran strong in both events last year before crashing out of the fall race. Penske may be the team to watch Sunday, so follow Brad Keselowski and Sam Hornish Jr. closely as well.
Watch the Odds
Matt Kenseth (15/1): There was a time Kenseth would have been the favorite, but Roush Fenway has struggled to win races for the last two calendar years and Kenseth wasn’t even a top-10 car at Michigan last season. Still, he’s been the most consistent Roush car this season and has odds ripe for the picking.
Carl Edwards (20/1): Like Kenseth, would have once been considered a favorite, and did finish in the top five in both events last year. If any Roush driver breaks into victory lane this weekend, Edwards would be my pick.
Greg Biffle (20/1): You know the story by now with Roush at Michigan. He did lead 42 laps in this event last year so he could break out Sunday.
Mark Martin (20/1): Won this race last year and while I’ve routinely said I won’t take him until he shows he can win this season, 20/1 is VERY tempting this weekend.
Juan Pablo Montoya (15/1): Had engine problems at Fontana so you can’t go off of that, but did start second in that race and is routinely good on the big ovals. I expect him to be in contention for much of the race Sunday.
Jeff Gordon (7/1): It’s tough to take Gordon when you’re betting to win because he always seems to be the bridesmaid (he finished second in both Michigan events last year) and at 7/1 I don’t think it’s worth it again this week.
Take a Shot
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (25/1): While I don’t see him winning, Earnhardt should have one of his better runs Sunday and if the dominos fall the right way, anything can happen.
Joey Logano (30/1): Started eighth and finished seventh in just his second trip to the track last fall. Like Harvick, has something to prove this weekend and at 30/1 he’s worth taking a flier on.
Jamie McMurray (40/1): Started on the pole at a similar track at Fontana before finishing 17th. I truly expect a top-10 run on Sunday and at 40/1 that’s reason enough to drop some coin on the No. 1 team.
Stay Away From…
Jeff Burton (15/1): 0 for 32 at Michigan and zero top 10s since 2002… no thanks, even though he was solid in Fontana.
Clint Bowyer (25/1): Bowyer is having a Chase-caliber season but has led just seven laps in eight starts at Michigan. Do you see him winning Sunday? I don’t.
Tony Stewart (25/1): You can only really go off of 2009 with Stewart because it was his first at Stewart-Haas. If he didn’t contend for the win then, he won’t now as the team as a whole has taken a step back.
Ryan Newman (30/1): See Stewart.
Martin Truex Jr. (40/1): Truex does have two runner-up finishes at Michigan, but they were with DEI in 2007. Stay away from MWR at Michigan.
David Reutimann (50/1): While there’s certain tracks I like Reutimann and the MWR guys at, Michigan isn’t one of them.
PREDICTION: Jimmie Johnson