FireKeepers Casino 400
Yahoo: Top 30 Drivers
Yahoo / Fox / NASCAR: Quick Picks
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rolls into Michigan International Speedway this weekend, and after some bad breaks at Dover and some bad brakes at Pocono led to a couple of mediocre weeks for my fantasy teams, I'm hoping a trip to the Irish Hills will get my season back on track.
In the Yahoo game, I'm hoping to take advantage of Michigan's tendency to produce clean races to go aggressive with my lineup and load up on big names. I feel even stronger about this approach based on what I saw at last weekend's race at Pocono. The stages seem to lessen somewhat the possibility of fuel mileage coming into play, which has been a potential curveball at MIS in the past.
For the NASCAR.com game, I'm again being aggressive with my lineup. I'm going with three high-priced studs who should give me a great chance to maximize my score in the dominator categories and stage points. Granted, there are only 200 laps on tap Sunday, but I still think the dominator categories are where you should focus. I just don't see a lot of potential in the place differential category since most of the better drivers performed well in qualifying.
The lack of big names starting deeper in the field also complicates things in the FOX game. Outside of Ty Dillon, who had his qualifying time disallowed and starts last, you are going to have to roll the dice if plan on picking any drivers starting outside the Top 25. Instead, I'm focusing on the better options starting just outside the Top 10 who have a chance to contend for a strong finish while gaining between five and ten spots.
You can check out a complete look at my season-long fantasy NASCAR picks for the FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan, and make sure to get your lineups locked in before Sunday's race.
Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Auto Racing
Brad Keselowski (A)
With Joey Logano mired in a slump, this pick came down to Brad Keselowski or Kevin Harvick. I went with Keselowski because of his ever-so-slight edge in consistency. Over the last ten races at MIS, his 7.2 average finish is the best in the series. He hasn't finished outside the Top 15 in that span, and he has six straight Top 10s, including a pair of Top 5 efforts last season.
Chase Elliott (B)
Elliott had a heck of a rookie season at Michigan, finishing second and leading 30-plus laps in both races at the track. After such a strong showing, he has to be considered a threat to contend for the win Sunday, and it's hard to pass up using any B-List option when they have a strong chance at ending up in victory lane.
Kyle Larson (B)
I've been able to control the urge to use Larson almost every week, so I still have six starts left heading into Sunday's race. There will be no saving Larson this weekend. He finished third and first in two starts at Michigan last year, and he won at Auto Club Speedway earlier this year. He is a flat out stud at the 2.0-mile ovals, and I'll be taking advantage.
Daniel Suarez (C)
After being unexpectedly thrust into the Cup Series, Suarez has weathered an inconsistent start and is starting to show his potential. He has eight straight Top 20 finishes, including four straight Top 15s, heading into Sunday's race. He also delivered a Top 10 finish at Michigan's sister track, Auto Club Speedway, back in March. I'm hoping to ride his hot streak to a Top 15 finish this weekend.
NASCAR.com Fantasy Live
Martin Truex Jr. ($28.00)
Truex has been a stud in this format all year, and he helps out in the dominator categories almost every week. After he qualified second, I think you can expect more of the same Sunday. He led laps in both races at Michigan last year, and he led 73 laps earlier this year at the other 2.0-mile oval on the schedule, Auto Club Speedway. Expect Truex to lead his share of laps and score a bunch of stage points.
Kevin Harvick ($27.75)
I like Harvick's potential to score points in all categories this weekend. First and foremost, he has been excellent at Michigan, notching seven Top 5s in the last eight races here and leading the second most laps in six starts with Stewart-Haas Racing. He is also starting 11th, so he is close enough to the front to earn stage points and some points in the dominator categories, but he still has some potential through place differential.
Kyle Larson ($27.50)
His ownership is going to be through the roof this weekend, but it should be. Larson finished third at Michigan last June and won the August race at the track. He also led more than 100 laps from the pole in a win at Michigan's sister track, Auto Club Speedway, earlier this year. Larson will start from the pole again Sunday, and the current king of the two-mile tracks is capable of delivering an equally dominant performance and finishing as the top scorer.
Landon Cassill ($7.00)
Cassill qualified back in 36th, but he has been a borderline Top 25 driver all season. At the very least, he isn't going to lose you any points, and he should be able to end up in the Top 30. I don't think an extra 10 points through place differential is out of the question, and he could be a sneaky Top 20 scorer in this format.
Cole Whitt ($6.00)
His price tag is obviously cap-friendly, but Whitt is more than a salary punt this weekend. He has quietly been effective at earning points in the place differential category a Michigan, gaining an average of 8.9 spots in his last six starts. After qualifying 33rd, Whitt should be able to gain a handful of spots and post a modest score for the price.
FOX Fantasy Auto Racing
Kevin Harvick ($11,800)
Harvick messed up his lap in the final round of qualifying, and after leading the first two rounds, he will have to start 11th. I think he has one of the fastest cars this weekend, but that shouldn't be a surprise. Harvick has a series-leading seven Top 5s in the last eight races here, and he has five second-place finishes in that span. If he challenges for the win again Sunday, he will finish in the 50-point range.
Brad Keselowski ($11,000)
There weren't any studs starting deeper in the field, so Keselowski lurking just outside the Top 10 is one of the best bets for a big score. After all, he has a series-leading 7.2 average finish in the last ten starts at Michigan, and he has six straight Top 10s here. He should have no problem delivering around 40 fantasy points by the time differential points are added in.
Chase Elliott ($10,900)
In two Cup starts at Michigan, Elliott has been nothing short of spectacular. He has a pair of second-place finishes and has led 30-plus laps in both starts. He doesn't have the most upside through place differential after qualifying 10th, but I think a Top 5 finish and around 40 fantasy points are reasonable expectations.
Kurt Busch ($8,000)
Busch is a bit of a riskier play because of his tendency to run hot and cold, but he is a three-time winner at Michigan, and his recent claim that Stewart-Haas Racing has found some extra speed in the wind tunnel seems to be true. Busch finished sixth at Charlotte and fourth last weekend at Pocono, and he has a little upside through place differential after qualifying 15th. I think 30-plus fantasy points is a safe bet.
Ty Dillon ($6,800)
He will start dead last after his qualifying time was disallowed, making him an absolute bargain in this format. He has the most upside of any driver in this format, and if he can just flirt with a Top 20 finish, he can approach 40 fantasy points.