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What The Odds Say About The Pure Michigan 400

Updated on August 16, 2013
Greg Biffle is the odds on favorite to win at Michigan once again
Greg Biffle is the odds on favorite to win at Michigan once again

Vickers Not Among The Entrants

Vickers, who will be running full time with Michael Waltrip Racing next year, will be in Mid Ohio this weekend
Vickers, who will be running full time with Michael Waltrip Racing next year, will be in Mid Ohio this weekend

With four races left before NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup, a number of teams are jockeying for a handful of playoff positions. Making the Chase means millions in additional end of season revenue, sponsor exposure, and prestige. That makes Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 more than just another race for NASCAR's top teams. It also may be the best hope for a win for several teams, particularly those running Fords. It's also the track where NASCAR's most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr, has his two most recent points-paying victories. A look at the odds on favorites and sleepers for this Sunday's race.


Before going any further, a quick note. We'll be looking at the statistics over the past ten races, all courtesy of racing-reference.com. Going any further back takes us into fourth generation cars and a completely different race environment in terms of competition on the track. We're also in no way advocating gambling in any way shape or form. These odds are purely for informational purposes only. It's also too bad that Brian Vickers is not in the #55 this week. He has the second highest average finish among all NASCAR drivers over the last ten races despite running a number of them in substandard equipment.

Highlights of the June 2013 Cup Race in Michigan

The Top Two Favorites

Biffle and Edwards have to be considered the favorites
Biffle and Edwards have to be considered the favorites

The Favorites

Driver: Greg Biffle

Team: Roush-Fenway Racing

Odds of Winning: 2-1

The Biff has to be considered the odds-on favorite to win the Pure Michigan 500. He's won the last two consecutive races at the track and those victories were not flukes. He's led nearly 19% of the laps over the last ten races and has the highest average finish (8.3) and six top five finishes. While Ford in general and Roush-Fenway Racing in particular have not had the same speed as the other teams, this is one track where they have historically done well. With Biffle running ninth in the standings, he'll also be receiving all of the support that the team and manufacturer can offer; Carl Edwards is virtually locked into the Chase and the other RFR car driven by Ricky Stenhouse is not in contention.


Driver: Carl Edwards

Team: Roush-Fenway Racing

Odds of Winning: 4-1

Like teammate Biffle, Edwards has had a great deal of success at the Michigan track. He has a victory and five top five finishes over the ten race period. Moreover, Edwards has done it while passing cars left and right. His average finish of ninth is 13.1 spots above his starting position, the largest increase of any driver starting on Sunday. If he starts anywhere in the top 15 he'll be primed for another top five finish and just possibly a win.


Driver: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Team: Hendrick Motorsports

Odds of Winning: 5-1

Earnhardt was primed for a top five finish (if not a victory) in this year's first Michigan race. He won there in 2012. While his average finish is a few slots behind that of Biffle and Edwards, he's led over 10% of the laps here over the last ten races. The stats are even more impressive considering how badly his team struggled for a two year period. Earnhardt is a driver who thrives on confidence and there is no track on the circuit that he's more confident at right now.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the 2012 spring race at Michigan and is a contender to win once again
Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the 2012 spring race at Michigan and is a contender to win once again

Can Bowyer or Johnson Win Their First Michigan Race?

Bowyer has never won at Michigan but he has run well
Bowyer has never won at Michigan but he has run well
Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson already have a combined seven wins this season
Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson already have a combined seven wins this season

The Sleepers

Driver: Clint Bowyer

Team: Michael Waltrip Racing

Odds of Winning: 10-1

Bowyer's success at Michigan isn't as well known as the Roush pair but he's consistently had solid runs at MIS. In the last ten races he has seven top ten finishes. His average finishing position is 10.5 slots above his average start so he knows how to cut through traffic. And he's accomplished those results driving both Toyotas and Chevys. Bowyer has an excellent chance to break through and score his first victory at the track and his first victory of the season.


Driver: Jimmie Johnson

Team: Hendrick Motorsports

Odds of Winning: 12-1

Michigan is probably one of the few races where the five time champion can legitimately be called a sleeper but it's also one of the few tracks where he's never won. That alone should be a warning signal to the competition. He's also led more laps than anyone but Biffle. So Johnson hasn't lacked speed at MIS; he's been the victim of bad luck and circumstance. Johnson also has five wins at Michigan's sister track, Auto Club Speedway. If Jimmie can get out front early there's no reason why he cannot finally check MIS off the list.


Driver: Kyle Busch

Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

Odds of Winning: 15-1

Like Johnson, Busch is not someone who'd normally be considered a sleeper to win a race. He won last week's race at Watkins Glen and is likely a lock for the Chase with three wins. Given Toyota's struggles during the spring Michigan race, however, observers aren't expecting much from the Toyota Racing Development group this week. That might be a mistake; Busch has momentum and an average finish that ranks among the top ten drivers starting on Sunday. He also should benefit from having Matt Kenseth as a teammate as Kenseth has done well previously as a member of RFR.

Will Kurt Busch Be Smiling After Sunday?

Unlike brother Kyle, Kurt Busch has struggled at the Michigan track
Unlike brother Kyle, Kurt Busch has struggled at the Michigan track

Can Kahne Avoid Another Michigan Wreck?

Kasey Kahne's earlier finish at Michigan ended in a fiery crash
Kasey Kahne's earlier finish at Michigan ended in a fiery crash

The Sucker's Bets

Driver: Kurt Busch

Team: Furniture Row Racing

Odds of Winning: 100-1

Surprisingly, Kurt has struggled at the two mile oval in the Michigan hills. Over the last ten races he has only two top ten finishes. His average finish is 26.3 and is a whopping 15.7 spots behind his average starting place. No driver has dropped further. Busch sits a precarious 11th place in the standings and without a victory he'll need to gain points to get his single car operation into the Chase. Kurt is a supremely talented wheelman but he also isn't known for his ability to respond well to pressure. The bet here is that Busch tries to get too much out of his equipment and once again finishes outside the top 20.


Driver: Marcos Ambrose

Team: Richard Petty Motorsports

Odds of Winning: 75-1

Ambrose led the most laps last week at Watkins Glen and was poised for a victory before an untimely caution sent him to the middle of the pack. Two yellow flags and one crash later he finished a dismal 31st place and ended his Chase hopes. That doesn't bode well for the Tasmanian Devil, who hasn't had much success at the Michigan course. His average finish is 22.6, he has only two top ten finishes, and he's led a total of 15 laps in ten races. A top five finish would make for a great comeback story but isn't likely.


Driver: Kasey Kahne

Team: Hendrick Motorsports

Odds of Winning: 60-1

Like Ambrose, Kahne was a victim of a late race caution and wreck at Watkins Glen. He's still a good bet for the Chase with two victories but past performance at Michigan makes him unlikely to improve on that here. His average finish of 19.7 is almost 11 full spots behind his starting place. He's led a paltry 23 laps in ten races. He's been the victim of bad luck in Michigan before but that bad luck has come in large part due to running deep in the field.

See Kahne's Earlier Days on DVD

Now it's your turn!

Who do you think will win the Pure Michigan 400?

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