Race: FireKeepers Casino 400
Date: Sunday June 10, 2018
Track: Michigan International Speedway
Time: 2 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com
Martin Truex Jr. takes the win! The Tricky Triangle proved to be a relatively clean race and finally one that was not devastated by rain delays. Fans and drivers alike were both tired of that constant story at Pocono throughout the years. Luckily, we didn’t have to endure another rain-delayed Monday race. Truex, Kyle Busch, and Kevin Harvick dominated the race, leading a total of 133 of the 160 laps between the three of them. Those guys are really dominating the season. This race was simply a reflection of that. We really shouldn’t be surprised by the finishing order.
Following Truex Jr., Kyle Larson took the second spot with Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Brad Keselowski rounding out the top 5 spots. Denny Hamlin was actually one of the only drivers out of the race, leaving him with a disappointing 35th finishing spot. Ryan Blaney, Aric Almirola, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, and Chase Elliott rounded out the top ten. Overall, Pocono proved to be a pretty mundane race. No big issues to really report, and honestly, one of the races I wish that NASCAR would get rid of. Not to be critical of the track, because it does have its own uniqueness about it, but it really doesn’t give the fans much to watch. It allows the drivers to spread out, and while there are technicalities that make it somewhat challenging for the drivers, those really aren’t anything that the driver can notice throughout the race.
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Hopefully, this weekend will bring back the competitive racing as the drivers head into Michigan International Speedway. This track is a moderately banked 2-mile D-shaped oval. It has 18 degree banking in the turns with 12 degree banking along the front stretch and 5 degrees on the backstretch. Michigan is another track where drivers typically can drive away from the field. The difference here is that there are many different grooves around the track. You will see guys move from the high side to the low side right back to the middle, looking to find the fastest way around for their cars. Tires tend to be an issue here because of that. The fact that there are longer green flag runs also tends to put quite a bit of pressure on the Goodyear guys. There is a solid compound that is run here that seems to do a good job, but even the toughest most engineered tires can’t always withstand the pressure that these drivers put on them.
When it comes down to Michigan, these guys are going to be racing hard, but in all actuality, the big three that we’ve been talking about all along will likely be the class of the field. Aside from them, though, I think that we have a different winner, who just so happens to be a fine-line B-lister. Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Martin Truex Jr. are undoubtedly the best drivers on the track right now, but Kyle Larson is who they are chasing this weekend. In fact, Larson won the last three races here plus he’s coming off a second-place finish at Pocono. The kid has a lot going for him, and I think that he’s the one to beat. In lieu of Larson winning, Martin Truex Jr. is my pick amongst the top drivers. Here’s a look at your potential winners this weekend:
My Pick to Win: Kyle Larson
Middle of the Road Pick: Chase Elliott
Dark Horse Prediction: Ryan Blaney
Blaney is a dark horse but most definitely a solid pick. He ran Pocono like a veteran, leading with the pole and coming home with an excellent 6th place finish. The Fords have some speed, too, which is really something needed at Michigan with the size of this track. Look for Blaney to be up front throughout most of the race. Chase Elliott, although he’s fallen off, is a competitive intermediate track driver. With 3 top 5 finishes and 1 top 10 for all four of his starts here, Elliott is undoubtedly the one who can bring home a dependable finish. I think that he will really be competitive this weekend, which is something that the Hendrick garage desperately needs. When it comes down to the nitty-gritty, though, Kyle Larson is the guy to beat this weekend. With three consecutive Michigan wins and a runner-up from Pocono last weekend, these guys have it going on, and they’re marching higher up the points each and every time.
Here are your current top 16 after last week’s race:
1. Kyle Busch
2. Kevin Harvick
3. Joey Logano
4. Martin Truex Jr.
5. Brad Keselowski
6. Clint Bowyer
7. Kurt Busch
8. Denny Hamlin
9. Kyle Larson
10. Ryan Blaney
11. Aric Almirola
12. Jimmie Johnson
13. Chase Elliott
14. Erik Jones
15. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
16. Alex Bowman
Lest we not forget the driver in the middle of what is being called the “big three” right now. Joey Logano is a force to be reckoned with. The Penske team has a whole lot of speed and a lot to say about these upcoming races. He’s not sitting in third place by pure luck, though most tend to ignore his accomplishments while focusing on the other guys. This weekend will likely be another excellent performance for that team, along with teammate Brad Keselowski. Overall, Michigan should give us at least a touch more excitement than Pocono, at least we can hope. Stay tuned for a great afternoon of racing as the drivers head next to Michigan International Speedway! – Looking for more than just standard driver to win NASCAR bets? Check out 5Dimes!