The 2019 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series is nearly halfway done with already 14 races in the books. So far, it has been both an interesting and exciting season.

In the last race of the season at the Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway on Sunday afternoon, Kyle Busch won his 4th race of the season, finishing ahead of Brad Keselowski and Erik Jones. Defending race champion and Coca Cola 400 winner Martin Truex Jr. did not finish the race after his car suffered an engine failure just 91 laps in the race.

Here are the updated NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series standings after the Pocono 400:

Rank Name Points Wins Top 5
1 Kyle Busch 568 4 8
2 Joey Logano 564 1 7
3 Chase Elliott 511 1 6
4 Brad Keselowski 509 3 6
5 Kevin Harvick 500 0 5
6 Denny Hamlin 465 2 6
7 Martin Truex Jr. 452 3 5
8 Kurt Busch 437 0 3
9 Ryan Blaney 406 0 4
10 Alex Bowman 395 0 3

The next race on the schedule is the Firekeepers Casino 400 which will be held on June 9, 2019, at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. The race is the 15th on the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup series schedule and is contested at a distance of 400 miles or 200 laps on the 2-mile long D-shaped oval track. It is the first of two races in Michigan with the Consumers Energy 400 following in mid-August.

The race is named after Firekeepers Casino, which has sponsored the race since 2016 after taking over from Quicken Loans. The first race was held in 1969 and was won by Cale Yarborough. The 1999 race, won by Dale Jarrett, set the NASCAR record for a 400-mile race, with an average speed of 173.997mph.

Yarborough has most wins in this race with six which he won in pairs (1969-70, 1977-78, 1982-83). David Pearson and Bill Elliott have four wins each while Rusty Wallace has three. Among the active drivers, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin have two wins each. Busch won in 2003 and 2015 while Hamlin won two in a row from 2010-11.

“Racing" Who Are The Favorites?

Last year, Clint Bowyer won the race while Kevin Harvick finished in second place while Kurt Busch came in third. Kurt Busch won the pole position in that race. Here are the current NASCAR betting odds to win the Firekeepers Casino 400 this coming weekend. Odds were taken from Bet365 as of 6/4/19:

Driver Odds
Kyle Busch 3.75
Kevin Harvick 5
Martin Truex Jr 6
Brad Keselowski 9
Kyle Larson 11
Chase Elliott 11
Joey Logano 11
Denny Hamlin 17
Kurt Busch 19
Ryan Blaney 21
Clint Bowyer 21

Kyle Busch has never won this particular race but he leads all drivers this season with four victories including the last race of the season, the Pocono 400. Kyle Busch is also the current overall leader in the drivers’ standings and is the most consistent driver with Top 10 finishes in all but one race this season. Busch was 3rd and 4th in Michigan last year so he also has a good resume at this race track.

Kevin Harvick has three second-place finishes in this particular race in the last six years plus a 5th place finish in 2016 so he’s one of the most consistent drivers in the Firekeepers Casino 400. But Harvick has placed just 13th or lower in three out of this last four races including 22nd in the last race of the season at the Pocono 400.

Martin Truex Jr. is my darkhorse pick because his current form has been impressive, save for last week’s debacle. Truex hasn’t won this particular race but he’s finished in the Top 6 in three out of his last six appearances at this race. We’ll give our final predictions once the odds are out for this race.

Brad Keselowski is 4th in the current drivers’ standings and won the Digital Alley 400 in Kansas three races ago. Keselowski has three Top 7 finishes in his last six races including that win in Dover. He was 6th in this particular race last year and has finished in at least 6th place in four out of the last five seasons.

Kyle Larson may be out of the Top 10 in the standings and has finished 19th or worse in six out of his last eight races but he is the most intriguing driver in this race. Larson has won three out of the last five races at the Michigan International Speedway, including this particular race in 2017. He has finished third or better in four out of his last six races in Michigan. With the way he’s dominated this race track recently, I think Larson is also worthy of consideration.

Chase Elliott has finished at least 5th in each of his last five races and that is a very strongly indicative of his current form. Elliott also finished runner-up in two out of the last three installments of the Firekeepers Casino 400 and is averaging a finish of 5. 3 in his six overall trips to the Michigan International Speedway. This is probably Elliott’s most consistent track in his first four years at NASCAR so he’s got to be in consideration to win this race as well.

Joey Logano ranks next to Kyle Busch in the current drivers’ standings with 564 points, just four points shy of Kyle Busch’s total. He also won the Firekeepers Casino 400 in 2016 and has finished in the Top-10 of this race in six consecutive seasons. Likewise, Logano has finished in the Top-10 in 10 out of his last 11 overall appearances at the Michigan International Speedway.

Clint Bowyer is the defending race champion and with four Top 5 finishes in his last eight races. Bowyer also has seven Top-10 finishes in his last 10 races and has 10 Top-10 finishes in his last 16 starts at the Michigan International Speedway. His history at the track makes him an interesting option in this race and his consistency as of late makes me believe that he is due for a victory.

“Racing" Who Wins?

As always, Kyle Busch is the easy pick to make in this race. And why not? He’s currently the leader in the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series, he’s been the most consistent driver this season, and he has most wins with four this year. But take note that Kyle Busch has won back-to-back races only three times in the last three years.

Harvick had some good finishes in the Firekeepers Casino 400 but, I don’t like his current form. While I like Keselowski being consistent in this particular race and is racing well as of late, there are drivers like Larson and Bowyer who also have a good track record in Michigan but have better betting value.

The drivers I’m talking about are Clint Bowyer and Kyle Larson. But Bowyer is the defending race champion and it’s been 8 years since Denny Hamlin won back to back races in Michigan. I like how Larson has tamed the Michigan International Speedway in his recent races. I think the safe bet is Kyle Busch because of his current form but I’ll take Kyle Larson as well for my darkhorse pick. Prediction: Kyle Busch, but you may want to add Kyle Larson as well.

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