FireKeepers Casino 400 Race Odds & Predictions

by | Aug 19, 2021 | nascar

Race: FireKeepers Casino 400

Date: Sunday, August 22, 2021

Track: Michigan International Speedway

Time: 3 pm ET

Channel: NBCSN

What Did We Learn From Last Weekend?

Well, that was…interesting…? I’m still gathering my thoughts after that debacle that we saw on Sunday’s road course at Indy. If it wasn’t enough that NASCAR took away a crown jewel of Cup Series racing by eliminating the rectangle, it turned into quite a mess throughout the entirety of the race. Ultimately, one curb proved to be an issue not just in the Xfinity Series but also in the Cup Series. On Saturday, the crews made repairs to the curb as drivers managed to damage it while they raced hard through their inaugural stop at this track. While it seemed to be repaired, it was evident that it was not as the first issues began when a caution flew for debris. What looked to be a small piece of metal on the curb’s edge turned out to be an entire metal cover lodged under the curb.

NASCAR went at it again, attempting to make repairs, but it turned out to not be enough. As the race was winding down, NASCAR saw a huge wreck on lap 78, resulting in the race going immediately into overtime after the red flag was lifted. NASCAR ultimately removed the curb altogether from the track, thinking that would eliminate the problem. They were wrong. They failed to block the speed bump that remained…ya know, that think that the curb was stopping drivers from hitting. Well, after the initial huge wreck that took out the likes of Joey Logano, many drivers restarted, and some launched off the speed bump in turn 6. Needless to say, chaos ensued. In the final laps, Chase Briscoe was battling Denny Hamlin. They’d had a healthy battle all day long, with Hamlin actually causing some friction in early laps. That being said, Briscoe, unfortunately, cut across the grass as he lost control of his car. He regained control and got safely back on track right next to Hamlin. Unfortunately, because he re-entered the track where it was disallowed, a penalty was assessed. Before Briscoe could serve that penalty, however, he managed to spin Hamlin during a heated battle for the lead. AJ Allmendinger took advantage of their misfortunes and found his first win in only four races this season. Allmendinger races in the Xfinity Series full-time and only races on the road courses in the Cup Series. Needless to say, it was quite an emotional victory and one that was very well earned and deserved.

Where Are We Headed This Weekend?

This Sunday, the drivers are headed to another NASCAR staple. Michigan International Speedway is a 2-mile D-shaped oval with moderate banking. There are 18 degrees of banking in the turns, with 12 degrees on the frontstretch and 5 degrees on the backstretch. This place was constructed in 1967, with its first race held in October 1968. Roger Penske purchased the track in 1972. There’s a long-standing history with NASCAR and Michigan overall. The most significant part of this 2-mile track is the speed. It’s a fast track with little braking. Tires tend to be part of the strategy, as there are very often long green flag runs (as long as the stages will allow) with few cautions. Drivers really use all of the track and are able to pass with the multiple grooves that are available across the surface.

Odds and Value Picks

You know who’s been fast this year? I always give it to Penske, but this year, the Hendrick garage is really the strongest out of any of the teams. That said, there’s one particular driver that has fire in his veins and can’t seem to be stopped. Kyle Larson is incredible on the intermediate tracks. In fact, he’s actually pretty incredible on anything he races. There’s no stopping this guy.

Larson actually has three wins at this track with Chip Ganassi Racing. While he didn’t have a shot here last year due to his suspension, Larson has quite the groove with his Hendrick team. So far, Larson has a mere five wins in 2021 on top of three poles. It seems that there’s nothing he can’t accomplish or win. This weekend will likely be no different. Here’s a look at your potential winners heading into Michigan.

  • Favorite: Kyle Larson 2.75-1 
  • Mid-Range Pick: Chase Briscoe 100-1
  • Dark Horse: Erik Jones 250-1

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Briscoe has never run a Cup race here. His only Xfinity start, though, resulted in a top 10 finish. After his determination last week at Indy, this kid has a lot going for him. I like his style. I like his determination. But I like his belief in himself more than anything. When Hamlin approached him after the race on Sunday, Briscoe didn’t back down. He stood his ground and made it known that he belongs exactly where he’s at. When it comes to Erik Jones, this might be a long shot. He doesn’t have the best record here, with his most recent finish being 19th, but this guy is a hometown boy. This is a track that he desperately wants to win. He also is coming into the weekend with a top 10 finish from Indy. That’s the type of finish this team needed to give them some confidence and know that they are more than their results have been showing. Everyone will be chasing Kyle Larson, though. He’s just unstoppable. He’s also at the top of the leaderboard heading into the weekend. Here are your current standings after the road course at Indy.

NASCAR Standings

  • Kyle Larson
  • Martin Truex Jr.
  • Kyle Busch
  • Chase Elliott
  • Alex Bowman
  • William Byron
  • Denny Hamlin
  • Joey Logano
  • Ryan Blaney
  • Brad Keselowski
  • Kurt Busch
  • Christopher Bell
  • Michael McDowell
  • Aric Almirola
  • Tyler Reddick
  • Kevin Harvick

It’s surprising to see Harvick on the bubble. He has zero wins so far in 2021, and he’s certainly seen his fair share of struggles. With only two races remaining, the drivers and teams are certainly looking for any opportunity for a win that they may have. Harvick actually has an excellent driver rating at this track. In fact, Harvick actually won the last three races here. I may not have mentioned that before, but that’s because his previous three seasons were nothing near as unfortunate as this one has been. Besides his last three consecutive wins, Harvick has a multitude of top 5 finishes. In a total of 40 starts here, his average finish is 11.13. He’s definitely one to keep your eyes on if you are thinking that someone without a win might just get one in before the playoffs. After Michigan, the only opportunity is the always unpredictable Daytona. No one wants to enter Daytona one a wing and a prayer. Stay tuned to see if Harvick can turn around his misfortune and win his way into the playoffs this weekend at Michigan International Speedway. 

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