A Pure exacta with Kyle Larson
August 08, 2017 3:08 AM
by Micah Roberts
Sunday’s Pure 400 will be the second and final visit to Michigan Speedway this season. The first was June 18 with Kyle Larson picking up his second straight win on the 2-mile layout.
All three of Larson’s career wins have been on 2-mile tracks. His other this season came in March at California Speedway, the sister-track to Michigan.
Though the two tracks are almost identical from afar, they race very differently. But let’s take a look at who has been the best combined at these 2-mile tracks. Chase Elliott has a 4.4 average finish in five career starts, including runner-up at Michigan in June. He has three starts at Michigan and finished second in all three.
The last two races at Michigan had a Larson-Elliott exacta, which can actually be wagered upon weekly at Nevada sportsbooks that offer USFantasy Sports. It’s just like the horses, except with NASCAR saddle numbers. Having exotic wagers like a daily double and different exacta pools to bet upon, it really adds another element to the race.
Joey Logano has a 5.2 average finish, a win and a series-leading five top-5s on the two 2-mile tracks over the last eight races. Teammate Brad Keselowski is next with a 6.2 average finish that includes a win.
Logano has two Michigan wins (2013, 2015) and was third in the June race. He’s outside looking in to the playoffs and needs a win to qualify. This seems like his best chance to get it from the four tracks remaining before judgment day.
Unfortunately for Michigan native Keselowski, his win on a 2-mile track came at Fontana in 2015. He’s been giving everything in all 16 career starts at his home track, but has yet to take the checker. However, he’s been so close on several occasions, including runner-up in the fall of 2012.
Matt Kenseth is a desperate driver who is barely hanging on to that 16th and final slot in the playoffs. He is the active leader among drivers of at least four starts at Michigan with a 10.3 average finish, three wins and 14 top-5s in 36 starts. His last win there was this race in 2015.
In the June race Kenseth finished 11th and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates were even better. Kyle Busch led the third most laps (40) and finished seventh. Denny Hamlin finished fourth.
It’s safe to say JGR horsepower struggle on big tracks is a thing of the past and they’re ready for the playoffs – with five 1.5-mile tracks among the 10 playoff tracks.
One driver that disproves any theory suggesting California and Michigan are similar is Jimmie Johnson. He’s won six times at California, but a 2014 Michigan win was his first there. He’s had several instances of having the best car on the track only to have a wide-array of weird things keeping him from getting a Michigan trophy: fuel, gremlins, tires.
Johnson is the active leader with 674 laps led between 31 starts.