The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Michigan International Speedway on June 12th for the FireKeepers Casino 400. NASCAR has implemented a new low downforce package for this weekends’ race, which will test each and every driver’s skill around the fast two-mile track.
Earlier in the week, the Sprint Cup Series saw its ninth different winner in 14 races when Kurt Busch went to Victory Lane in Pocono, locking yet another competitor into the 16-driver Chase. Who will be the favorite to take the crown at Michigan, and who will strengthen their bid for a spot in the playoffs?
Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind when constructing your Michigan DraftKings lineup.
ELITE TIER: $10,000 and up
Kevin Harvick ($10,600) FPPR: 67.4 – Career at Michigan: 30 races, 1 win, 8 top 5s
Average finish at Michigan: 13.2
Kevin Harvick is the epitome of consistency. In five of the last six races at Michigan, Harvick has finished second. It is realistic to say that Harvick is the uncontested favorite to win this weekend. Harvick will be starting 29th on Sunday after a stroke of bad luck during qualifying, but will be fast nonetheless. While the price is steep, Harvick is a can’t miss addition to your fantasy lineup.
Jimmie Johnson ($10,000) FPPR 40.6 – Career at Michigan: 28 races, 1 win, 5 top 5s
Average finish at Michigan: 16.8
In opening practice, Johnson was ninth fastest, and was one of three Hendrick Motorsports drivers in the top 10. 2015 was not a season to remember for Johnson at Michigan. The six-time Sprint Cup Series Champion finished 39th in the most recent race. If you go back two years to 2014, Johnson notched his only win at Michigan. The team has the speed to win, but they will need a clean, mistake-free run in order to punch their ticket to victory lane.
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,300) FPPR: 53.8 – Career at Michigan: 20 races, 5 top 5s
Average finish at Michigan: 16.5
The bad luck bug bit Martin Truex Jr. again at Pocono. Truex was involved in a wreck on pit road during the first caution of the race and was unable to bounce back. Truex was second fastest in opening practice, and will be starting on the front row on Sunday, so there is no question that the speed is there. Truex should have three wins already this season, but is in search of his second.
Honorable Mention: Kyle Busch ($10,100)
ALL-STAR TIER: $8,500 – $9,999
Carl Edwards ($9,500) FPPR: 53.5 – Career at Michigan: 23 races, 2 wins, 9 top 5s
Average finish at Michigan: 9.7
Carl Edwards has the best average finish of all active drivers at Michigan. In 2015, Edwards finished 12th and 6th at the two-mile oval. In 2016, the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing team has made vast improvements to its performance, and Edwards has had a shot for the victory nearly every week so far. Even at the price of $9,500, he is considered a value pick.
Matt Kenseth ($9,900) FPPR: 36.3 – Career at Michigan: 33 races, 3 wins, 14 top 5s
Average finish at Michigan: 10.2
In 33 races at Michigan, Kenseth has an average finish of 10.2. He finished fourth in this race last season, and went to victory lane in the other. Kenseth has finished in the top 15 in nearly half the races he has run at the track and should be a lock for another top 15 this week.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($9,400) FPPR: 40 – Career at Michigan: 33 races, 2 wins, 8 top 5s
Average finish at Michigan: 15.1
Earnhardt Jr. has four straight top-10 finishes at Michigan and four top-five finishes in the last eight races. He is coming off a second-place finish last Monday at Pocono, and has finished inside the top 15 in every race this season where he was not involved in a wreck. Earnhardt may be the most reliable pick for this week, as long as he can run a clean race.
MID TIER: $7,500 – $8,499
Chase Elliott: ($8,400) FPPR: 38.9 – First career Sprint Cup Series start at Michigan
Elliott will be making his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Michigan on Sunday. Elliott was atop the leaderboard at the finish of opening practice on Friday. The No. 24 team has been running well over the past few weeks after an up-and-down start to the season. At this price, Elliot is a must-have on any fantasy lineup.
Kasey Kahne: ($8,000) FPPR: 27.6 – Career at Michigan: 24 races, 1 win, 8 top 5s
Average finish at Michigan: 15.8
Kahne scored two 15th-place finishes at Michigan last season, one of which was won from the pole. He does have one victory at the track and has not placed worse than 16th since 2013. Kahne has a knack for running towards the front at Michigan and is a strong contender for a top-10 finish.
Austin Dillon: ($8,200) FPPR: 28.5 – Career at Michigan: 7 races, 1 top 5
Average finish at Michigan: 17.9
Austin Dillon had a weekend to forget at Pocono. The driver of the No. 3 had trouble fighting his way through traffic and the team was unable to make the necessary adjustments on pit road. On lap 118, Dillon lost a brake rotor and smacked the wall, ending his day prematurely. This team started the season off hot, but has cooled down over the past month. As a result, Dillon’s fantasy value is low at
the moment, but the No. 3 team won’t stay down forever.
BARGAIN TIER: $4,500 – $7,499
Ryan Blaney: ($7,400) FPPR: 29.6 – Career at Michigan: 2 races
Average finish at Michigan: 24.0
Unlike fellow rookie Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney has experience at Michigan. In two races, Blaney has two 24th-place finishes. In his first full-time season, Blaney has eight top-10 finishes with an average finish of 16.7. This young driver is a good choice for a middle-of-the-lineup addition.
Greg Biffle: ($6,900) FPPR 21.4 – Career at Michigan: 26 races, 4 wins, 10 top 5s
Average finish at Michigan: 12.9
Roush Fenway Racing has experienced a boost in performance in 2016, and at Michigan, RFR has 13 career Sprint Cup Series wins. In addition, Michigan may be Biffle’s best track. He has four career wins at Michigan and could be an underdog pick for an upset finish. There is a chance that RFR may pick up its first win since 2014.
Paul Menard: ($6,300) FPPR 21.7 – Career at Michigan: 19 races, 4 top 5s, 6 top 10s
Average Finish at Michigan: 17.5
Michigan has been one of Menard’s more successful tracks over his career. Menard has wrapped up a top-15 finish in the past seven straight races at this speedway. DraftKings overlooked Paul Menard when formulating its prices; therefore, he is a must start.
Honorable Mention: Tony Stewart ($7,300)
For more coverage of the FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan leading up to the race, as always you can follow Frontstretch on Twitter @Frontstretch, on Instagram @frontstretchdotcom and Facebook at facebook.com/frontstretch.
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