2018 NASCAR Consumers Energy 400 Betting Preview, Odds and Prediction

by Rick Rockwell
on August 11, 2018
12

Minute Read

TL;DR

Winner: Kyle Larson (+850)

Betting Value:

  • Denny Hamlin (+2000)
  • Joey Logano (+2000)
  • Kurt Busch (+2000)
  • Erik Jones (+2200)

Longshot: Matt Kenseth (+30000)



On Sunday, August 12th, in the 23rd race of the NASCAR season, the Monster Energy Cup Series makes a return trip to Michigan in the Consumers Energy 400. This is the second NASCAR race of the season to be held at the Michigan International Speedway and it’s definitely shaping up to be one of the most exciting August races that we’ve seen at Michigan in quite some time.

The Michigan International Speedway (MIS) is a 2-mile oval track that looks more like a “D”. Drivers will be able to hit some incredible speeds along the straightway before having to slow down heading in and out of the turns. The MIS is considered to be a “sister” track to the Texas World Speedway.

The Consumers Energy 400 race is 200 laps long, for a grand total of 400 miles. Additionally, the race has the following details:

  • Stage 1: first 60 laps
  • Stage 2: second 60 laps
  • Final Stage: remaining 80 laps

NASCAR fans can watch the race on NBC Sports Network beginning at 2:30 PM ET, as the beloved Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads the commentary team for another race weekend.

Heading into Michigan this weekend

Coming into this race, NASCAR’s Big 3 continue to dominate each and every weekend. However, last Sunday at Watkins Glen, we got an exciting finish as Chase Elliott upstaged both Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch to win the race. It marked Elliott’s first career cup win and locked him in for the NASCAR playoffs. Truex Jr. and Busch finished 2nd and 3rd respectively.

In addition to the Big 3’s continued domination in the Monster Energy Cup Series, the following storylines will also be worth watching out for:

  • Will we get another first time winner at Michigan?
  • Can Kyle Larson return to victory circle?
  • Will we see another repeat winner?
  • Can Brad Keselowski win at his home state’s track?
  • Will Chase Elliott continue his late-season success?

Previous Consumers Energy 400 Race Winners

The inaugural Consumers Energy 400 race was run in 1969. In this race’s prestigious history, there have been 26 different winners. Of those 26 drivers, 14 of them have won multiple times with David Pearson holding the record for 5 race wins. The following is a list of the previous winners for NASCAR’s annual August Michigan race, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Year Race Winner Winning Race Team Winning Manufacturer
1969 David Pearson Holman-Moody Ford
1970 Charlie Glotzbach Ray Nichels Dodge
1971 Bobby Allison Holman-Moody Mercury
1972 David Pearson Wood Brothers Racing Mercury
1973 No Race Held
1974 David Pearson Wood Brothers Racing Mercury
1975 Richard Petty Petty Enterprises Dodge
1976 David Pearson Wood Brothers Racing Mercury
1977 Darrell Waltrip DiGard Motorsports Chevrolet
1978 David Pearson Wood Brothers Racing Mercury
1979 Richard Petty Petty Enterprises Chevrolet
1980 Cale Yarborough Junior Johnson & Associates Chevrolet
1981 Richard Petty Petty Enterprises Buick
1982 Bobby Allison DiGard Motorsports Buick
1983 Cale Yarborough Ranier-Lundy Chevrolet
1984 Darrell Waltrip Junior Johnson & Associates Chevrolet
1985 Bill Elliott Melling Racing Ford
1986 Bill Elliott Melling Racing Ford
1987 Bill Elliott Melling Racing Ford
1988 Davey Allison Ranier-Lundy Ford
1989 Rusty Wallace Blue Max Racing Pontiac
1990 Mark Martin Roush Racing Ford
1991 Dale Jarrett Wood Brothers Racing Ford
1992 Harry Gant Leo Jackson Motorsports Oldsmobile
1993 Mark Martin Roush Racing Ford
1994 Geoffrey Bodine Geoff Bodine Racing Ford
1995 Bobby Labonte Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet
1996 Dale Jarrett Robert Yates Racing Ford
1997 Mark Martin Roush Racing Ford
1998 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
1999 Bobby Labonte Joe Gibbs Racing Pontiac
2000 Rusty Wallace Penske Racing Ford
2001 Sterling Marlin Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge
2002 Dale Jarrett Robert Yates Racing Ford
2003 Ryan Newman Penske Racing Dodge
2004 Greg Biffle Roush Racing Ford
2005 Jeremy Mayfield Evernham Motorsports Dodge
2006 Matt Kenseth Roush Racing Ford
2007 Kurt Busch Penske Racing Dodge
2008 Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Racing Ford
2009 Brian Vickers Red Bull Racing Team Toyota
2010 Kevin Harvick Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
2011 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
2012 Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Racing Ford
2013 Joey Logano Penske Racing Ford
2014 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
2015 Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
2016 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
2017 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

The race was not held in 1973 due to scheduling conflicts with MIS and NASCAR.

Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Kyle Larson are all active drivers who have already won this race and will be competing on Sunday. Kyle Larson has won the last two Consumers Energy 400 races and looks to become only the second driver ever to win this race 3 consecutive years. Bill Elliott accomplished this feat from 1985 to 1987. Roush Fenway Racing leads all teams with 7 race wins at Michigan’s August race.

Consumers Energy 400 Betting Odds

The following NASCAR Consumers Energy 400 Betting odds are courtesy of Bovada:

  • Kevin Harvick +285
  • Kyle Busch +450
  • Martin Truex Jr. +450
  • Kyle Larson +850
  • Brad Keselowski +1200
  • Chase Elliott +1200
  • Clint Bowyer +1500
  • Denny Hamlin +2000
  • Joey Logano +2000
  • Kurt Busch +2000
  • Ryan Blaney +2000
  • Erik Jones +2200
  • Aric Almirola +3500
  • Jimmie Johnson +6000
  • Daniel Suarez +8500
  • Alex Bowman +10000
  • Jamie McMurray +10000
  • William Byron +10000
  • Austin Dillon +20000
  • Paul Menard +20000
  • Ryan Newman +20000
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. +35000
  • Allmendinger +55000
  • Chris Buescher +55000
  • Darrell Wallace Jr. +55000
  • Kasey Kahne +55000
  • Trevor Bayne +75000
  • Gray Gaulding +90000
  • Garrett Smithely +90000
  • Jeffrey Earnhardt +90000
  • BJ McLeod +90000
  • Blake Jones +90000
  • Corey LaJoie +90000
  • David Ragan +90000
  • Landon Cassill +90000
  • Matt DiBenedetto +90000
  • Michael McDowell +90000
  • Ross Chastain +90000
  • Timmy Hill +90000
  • Ty Dillon +90000

Consumers Energy 400 Betting Favorites

The following drivers are odds-on favorite to win this Sunday’s race, according to Bovada:

Kevin Harvick (+285)

Once again, Harvick returns to the top spot on the list of favorites to win at Michigan on Sunday. In June, Harvick led the most laps before Clint Bowyer got some help from Mother Nature and won the race. Harvick ended up taking 2nd place in June, which was his 11th Top 5 finish at Michigan International Speedway in 35 career starts.

Harvick has only 1 win at Michigan and it came in the 2010 edition of this August MIS race. Harvick also has 16 Top 10’s and an average finish of 12.4, which is good for fourth among all active drivers with 3 or more career starts at MIS.

Coming into this race, Harvick still trails Kyle Busch in the standings. However he is tied with Busch for 6 wins, 16 Top 5’s and 18 Top 10’s on the season. Harvick leads all drivers with 10 stage wins and is second in playoff points. Last weekend, Harvick finished in 10th place, and looks to rebound this week at Michigan where he’s finished runner up on 6 different occasions.

Kyle Busch (+450)

Kyle Busch might lead in the points standings and in playoff points, but he trails Harvick in odds on winning the Consumers Energy 400 this Sunday. A big reason why is because Kyle Busch has the 2nd worst average finish out of any of the Top 10 drivers at 18.9.

In 27 career starts at MIS, Kyle has 1 win (2011), 5 Top 5’s, and 9 Top 10’s. Only 3 of the Top 10 drivers have less Top 5’s and only two have less Top 10’s than Busch. In other words, Michigan isn’t one of the tracks where Kyle has had a lot of success at over his career. Busch did finish 4th in the June race and had a 10th place showing at this track last August.

Kyle still leads the standings, roughly 70 points ahead of Harvick. He has 6 wins, 16 Top 5’s, 18 Top 10’s, 5 stage wins, and 35 playoff points. Out of the Big 3, Kyle is the one that I feel will be the odd man out for a Top 5 finish on Sunday. He’ll by lucky to get in the Top 10.

Martin Truex Jr. (+450)

Martin Truex Jr. fell short last weekend at Watkins Glen in his bid to win for the 5th time this season. However, he still remains entrenched at the 3rd spot in the standings. Truex Jr. has 4 wins, 15 Top 5’s, 15 Top 10’s, is second with 7 stage wins, and has 27 playoff points.

Out of the Big 3 drivers, Truex Jr. hasn’t won at Michigan in his career. Over those 25 starts, Truex has 6 Top 5’s, 9 Top 10’s, and an average finish of 15.5. Last year, Truex finished in 2nd place behind Kyle Larson, which was his 6th Top 3 finish at MIS. In June, Truex had a poor showing by finishing in 18th.

Like Busch, Truex might be a contender each and every week, but at Michigan, Martin doesn’t have a great amount of success. There’s a chance that Martin doesn’t contend at all on Sunday for the checkered flag and is fortunate enough to even crack the Top 10.

Kyle Larson (+850)

Kyle Larson has won 3 out of the last 4 races at Michigan, but only managed a 28th place finish in June after the rain ruined his chances of a 4th straight MIS win. This weekend, Larson has the 4th highest odds for winning this race, but is still almost twice as long at winning this race as NASCAR’s Big 3. And, yet, Larson has almost as many Top 5’s, Top 10’s and laps led as Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr at MIS. Keep in mind those two drivers have 27 and 25 MIS starts respectively. Larson has 9 career starts in Michigan. That makes his success at MIS even more impressive.

Larson has finished in the Top 5 in 44% of his races, 55.6% of his races have seen him finish in the Top 10, and he’s won at MIS 33.3% of the time.

Currently, Larson sits 8th in the standings with 6 Top 5’s, 12 Top 10’s, and 1 stage win. He’s almost a lock to make the playoffs, but he’s also the only driver in the Top 13 to not have any playoff points. I love his chances this weekend to get his first win of the 2018 season.

Brad Keselowski (+1200)

I don’t think there’s been a driver over the summer who’s been more disappointing than Keselowski. Yes, he sits 7th in the standings with 5 Top 5’s, 11 Top 10’s, 4 stage wins, and 4 playoff points, but he’s struggled mightily over the last 5 races with some of those tracks being places where he’s dominated at in the past. Over the last 5 races, including last weekend’s 17th place at Watkins Glen, Brad has an average finish of 25.2. For a former series champion, that’s a terrible average.

Fortunately for Brad, he goes to another track where he’s had a great deal of success at in his career. Although Keselowski hasn’t won at Michigan in his 18 career starts, he does have 5 Top 5’s, 9 Top 10’s, and an average finish of 12.4, which is good for 5th among all active drivers with 3 or more MIS starts.

I have been burned by Keselowski on several occasions this summer. I’m not going to go as far to say he will win on Sunday, but I do think a strong Top 10 and possible Top 5 could be accomplished by Brad.

The Best Consumers Energy 400 Betting Value

After looking over each driver’s odds, and comparing them with his past success at MIS, the following 4 NASCAR drivers provide great betting value for this Sunday’s race at Michigan:

Denny Hamlin (+2000)

Just like with Keselowski, Denny Hamlin has let me down on more than a few occasions over the summer as I’ve picked him to win or finish in the Top 5, only for Denny to crash out or finish in the middle of the pack. Michigan is another track where Hamlin has had some career success.

In his 25 career starts, Hamlin has 2 wins, 7 Top 5’s, 11 Top 10’s, and a respectable average finish of 14.6. However, he also does have 3 DNFs. Denny scored a 12th place finish in the June race and finished 16th here last August.

Hamlin is another Top 10 driver that really needs a win to make this season a bit more meaningful. Denny sits in 9th place with 6 Top 5s, 11 Top 10’s, 2 stage wins and 2 playoff points. He’s currently looking at a playoff spot in September. However, you can bet that Denny is looking for a win this weekend and to move up in the playoff standings.

Joey Logano (+2000)

I don’t think there’s another driver in NASCAR who’s had as much success as Logano, only to be overlooked on a regular basis. Currently, Logano sits 6th in the standings with 1 win, 5 Top 5’s, 15 Top 10’s, 2 stage wins, and 7 playoff points.

Of the Top 10 drivers in the standings, Logano has the second best average finish at Michigan with 12.6. In 19 career starts, Logano has 2 wins, 5 Top 5’s, 13 Top 10’s, and 3 poles. Joey has a Top 10 finish in 68.4% of his MIS races. That’s a staggering number that’s not matched by anyone else in the Top 10. In fact, only Harvick has more Top 10’s than Logano, but he’s done that over 35 races compared to 19 for Joey.

In June, Logano finished a respectable 7th place. Last August, he finished 28th. Prior to the 2017 edition of this race, Logano had 9 straight Top 10 finishes at Michigan including 2 wins and 5 Top 5’s.

Joey crashed out at Watkins Glen last weekend, so I expect him to bounce back this Sunday at Michigan. Look for Logano to creep up on the contenders late in the race and be a threat for the checkered flag. Pencil Logano in for a Top 5 finish at MIS this weekend.

Kurt Busch (+2000)

Sitting 4th in the standings, Kurt has been a regular for my Betting Value section. I love how consistent he’s been all season long as he’s the only driver in the Top 6 to not have a victory. However, Kurt does have 3 Top 5’s, 13 Top 10’s, 2 stage wins and 2 playoff points. Last weekend, Kurt finished 9th at Watkins Glen for his 4th straight Top 10 finish on the season. Kurt seems to be heating up at the right time and I like his chances of a successful run this weekend at Michigan.

In 35 career races at MIS, Kurt has 3 wins, 6 Top 5’s, 12 Top 10’s, and 3 poles. He has an average start of 12.6, which is second best among the Top 10 drivers. However, he does have an average finish of 19th, which just a tenth higher than his brother Kyle for the worst average finish among the Top 10 drivers.

Kurt has tallied 5 straight Top 12 finishes at MIS including a 3rd place in June. He also had the pole at the June race. Busch hasn’t won at MIS since June of 2015, but also hasn’t crashed out of an MIS race in 6 years.

I like Kurt to get at least another Top 10 this weekend, but I’m a bit sluggish on pulling the trigger for penciling him into a Top 5 spot due to his 8 career DNFs at Michigan.

Erik Jones (+2200)

The final driver on my list of best Consumers Energy 400 betting value, is Erik Jones who currently sits 13th in the standings. Jones has 1 win, 4 Top 5’s, 11 Top 10’s, and 5 playoff points. But, the reason I like Jones’ value on Sunday, is because he’s flying under the radar as one of the best drivers over the last 7 races. Since June’s Sonoma race, Jones has 6 Top 7 finishes including a victory at Daytona. Jones also has consecutive Top 5 finishes over the last two weeks (Pocono and Watkins Glen).

At Michigan, Jones has 1 Top 5 finish in his 3 career starts. However, his average finish of 10.3 is second best among all active drivers with 3 or more MIS starts. Last year, Jones finished 3rd at this race. In June, he finished 15th at MIS, which was slightly below his 13th finish at the 2017 edition of the June his race. For a young driver, Jones appears to have a solid handle of this track.

The Best Longshot to Win the Consumers Energy 400

Bovada didn’t have Matt Kenseth listed, so I went with his 300/1 odds listed at Westgate Las Vegas Superbook. For those that are unfamiliar with fractional odds, 300/1 equates to +30000. The reason Kenseth cracks my list as the best longshot to win this race, is because he has won at Michigan on 3 separate occasions with the last win coming at the 2015 edition of this race.

In addition to the three wins during his 38 career starts at MIS, Kenseth also has 14 Top 5’s, 20 Top 10’s, and an average finish of 11.3. Kenseth only has 1 DNF in 38 MIS races and he also has an average start of 16.6. Matt finishes in the Top 10 at a rate of 52.6% of the time and over a third of his races he cracks the Top 5 at Michigan. Out of all active drivers with over 3 starts at MIS, Kenseth is ranked 3rd for the best average finish, but he also has the most Top 5’s and Top 10’s.  He didn’t fare will in the June race at Michigan due to the rain shortening finish, but Kenseth is poised for a strong run on Sunday.

NASCAR’s Consumers Energy 400 Checkered Flag

I didn’t list Chase Elliott in the favorites or the best betting value because his odds were somewhere in the middle of those two categories. However, he shouldn’t be overlooked. Elliott is on fire over the last few weeks. In fact, with his win last weekend at Watkins Glen, Elliott has an average finish of 4.33 in his last 3 races. What’s even more impressive, Elliott has a 4.6 average finish at Michigan, which is the best among all active drivers. In his 5 career races, Elliott has 3 Top 5’s and 5 Top 10’s. He has never finished outside of the Top 10 at Michigan and I expect him to crack the Top 5 this weekend. Elliott has 3 runner-ups at this track and he could get a 4th one this weekend.

In addition to Elliott, I expect Harvick, Larson, Logano and Jones all to make the Top 5. Look for Truex, both Busch brothers, Keselowski and possibly Hamlin to round out the Top 10. Keep an eye out for my longshot of Matt Kenseth. A Top 10 finish is not impossible this weekend if he has a good car.

As for June’s Michigan winner, I feel that Bowyer was the benefactor of the weather and wouldn’t have won if the race wasn’t shortened due to rain. Prior to his June win, Bowyer had an average finish of 30.6 at Michigan in his previous 5 races including a 40th and a 41st place finish.

Now for this weekend, the smart bet is Kevin Harvick as he does have 8 Top 5 finishes in the last 11 races at Michigan. If you want to play it safe then bet on Harvick. But, if you would like to live a little more dangerously like me then go with my home-town driver Kyle Larson. It’s time for the “Elk Grove Boy” to win in 2018 and there’s no better track to do it at than Michigan.

Top 5 Drivers

The following is a list of my Top 5 drivers for the Consumers Energy 400, but in no particular order:

  • Kevin Harvick
  • Kyle Larson
  • Chase Elliott
  • Joey Logano
  • Erik Jones

Michigan International Speedway Fun Facts

The following Michigan International Speedway fun facts are courtesy of a collection of sources including ESPN, Wikipedia and NASCAR:

  • The first annual August race at MIS was run in 1969 and won by David Pearson. However, the first race ever at MIS (June 1969) was won by Cale Yarborough.
  • Pearson would go on to win the MIS annual August race on 5 occasions.
  • Pearson also has the most total career wins at MIS with 9.
  • The first NASCAR race was 500 miles. They tried to go to 600 miles before lowering it down to 400.
  • The MIS sits on 1,400 acres and the track itself was repaved in 2012.
  • There was only one MIS race in 1973 as the August race was cancelled.
  • Bill Elliott has the most career starts at MIS with 61.
  • Bill’s son Chase has the best average finish at MIS among current drivers with 4.6.
  • Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson and Matt Kenseth lead active drivers with 3 wins at MIS.
  • Kurt also joins Logano and Kasey Kahne for the most poles among active drivers with 3. It should come as no surprise that Pearson has the most all-time poles with 10.
  • The pole position has won 21 times at MIS.
  • 38 different drivers have won at MIS.
  • 9 different drivers have won consecutive races at MIS with Larson doing it 3 straight times.
  • Roush Fenway has 7 wins in August and 6 wins in June, to give them the most MIS wins for a race team.
  • Led by Roush, Ford has the most manufacturer wins at MIS with 36.
  • Jeff Gordon has the most MIS runner-ups with 8. Harvick is just behind him with 7.
  • Kenseth is the active leader for most Top 5’s with 14 and most Top 10’s with 20.
  • Jimmie Johnson is the active leader for most laps led with 687. However, Cale Yarborough holds the all-time record with 1,308 laps led.
  • In his 33 attempts, Jimmie Johnson has never won a pole at Michigan.
  • AJ Allmendinger is the active leader for the most races without a Top 10 finish at 20.
  • Besides June’s race, there’s only ever been 4 other races at MIS to be shortened by the weather.
  • This might surprise some, but there has actually been 4 women drivers to race at Michigan: Patrick, Guthrie, McCall and Robinson.
  • The 1981 August race saw 65 lead changes.
  • Bill Elliott won 6 out of 8 (1984-1987) and 7 out of 11 (1984-1989) Michigan races. His success can only be matched by Pearson winning 7 out of 9 (1972-1976) and 8 out of 13 (1972-1978) MIS races. Kyle Larson leads active drivers with 3 wins in the last 4 MIS races.
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