The NASCAR Cup Series will travel to Michigan International Speedway (MIS) Sunday for the FireKeepers Casino 400. The Cup Series has spent the summer competing on road courses, the Superspeedway at Atlanta and flat tracks. It has been a while since the series has competed on a large intermediate track and even longer since it has competed on a 2-mile oval. The last race was at Michigan’s sister track in California in February. The Gen-7 has provided some exciting racing on the large ovals and I expect the same Sunday. The FireKeepers Casino 400 can be seen Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on USA Network.
PRACTICE SPEEEDS AT MICHIGAN
The Cup Series had their regular practice schedule this week. The teams were broken down into two groups and they had 20 minutes to dial in their cars for the race. MIS is a 2-mile, D-shaped oval. Most of the teams had time to make some long-runs in practice. That is important because the drivers who can maintain their speed over a long run will be up front. The cars were impounded after qualifying so the speed the cars had in practice is the speed the teams will start the race with Sunday.
Here are the practice speeds from Saturday’s practice at MIS…
AVERAGE DFS POINTS ON LARGE OVALS (2022)
The NASCAR Cup Series scheduled used to be littered with 1.5 and 2-mile oval tracks. That is not the case anymore. Michigan lost one of their races so now the series only competes in two races on 2-mile ovals (Auto Club and MIS). We can learn a lot from looking at which drivers scored well on the 1.5 and 2-miles ovals this year (Auto Club, Las Vegas, Kansas and Charlotte).
Here are the average DraftKings and FanDuel Points on the intermediate tracks (2022)…
DFS STRATEGY FOR MICHIGAN
The race at MIS is scheduled for 200 laps. That means there are 50 points available for leading laps and 90 points available for fastest laps in DraftKings contests (140 dominator points). There are 20 dominator points available in FanDuel contests.
The trend at MIS is for one driver to lead roughly 90 laps and be the main dominator in the race. There are six other drivers who lead 30, 20, 18, 14, 14 and 12 laps. So this means the race Sunday is likely going to have one main dominator and five or six other drivers who lead 12+ laps in the race.
My strategy this week will be to pay up for the driver I think can lead the most laps and pair him with four drivers who can finish in the top-10 with a good chance to lead some laps in the race.
DRAFTKINGS MODEL (PREDICTIONS BASED ON STATS)
Finish = Finishing Points PD = Position Differential Fastest = Fastest Laps Led = Laps Led
* The number in front of the driver is his projected finishing position based on stats.
FANDUEL MODEL (PREDICTIONS BASED ON STATS)
CORE DRIVERS FOR MICHIGAN
TOP-TIER DRIVERS: Chase Elliott ($10,900), Kyle Larson ($10,700), Kyle Busch ($10,500), Denny Hamlin ($10,300), Ross Chastain ($10,000), Tyler Reddick ($9,700), Martin Truex Jr. ($9,500), Ryan Blaney ($9,300), Christopher Bell ($9,000)
VALUE DRIVERS: Joey Logano ($8,800), Daniel Suarez ($8,600), Kevin Harvick ($8,400), Alex Bowman ($8,200), Bubba Wallace ($7,400), Austin Dillon ($7,300), Brad Keselowski ($6,900), Aric Almirola ($6,800)
PUNT PLAYS: Ty Dillon ($5,700), Corey LaJoie ($5,400), Todd Gilliland ($5,200)
DRAFTKINGS CASH CONTEST LINEUP
* Many of the drivers said after practice that Michigan races like a combination of a 1.5-mile track and a Superspeedway. The draft does come into play. For that reason, I will treat my Cash Contest lineup like a Superspeedway and play the drivers with the best chance to score place differential points.
DENNY HAMLIN ($10,300): The Toyota’s have a lot of speed this week and Hamlin looked fast in practice. The No. 11 car posted the third-fastest speed and had the fastest car on the long runs. Hamlin could win this race from the ninth starting spot Sunday.
ROSS CHASTAIN ($10,000): Chastain said after practice that his car was too tight but he was not worried about it. He said, “We were tight in practice, loosened it up a bit in qualifying, but we need some more. We have 400 miles to get the car where it needs to be. We have some smart people who know how to get me to the front.” Chastain has been to fast this year to fade when he starts outside the top-20.
RYAN BLANEY ($9,300): Blaney won the race at Michigan from the third starting position. What can he do from the 24th starting spot? Blaney was not happy with his car in practice but Team Penske is good at Michigan. Blaney should be able to score 14-20 place differential points Sunday and be a good play for Cash and Tournament Contest lineups.
ALEX BOWMAN ($8,200): There are a lot of reasons to fade Bowman Sunday. The No. 48 team has been in a slump all summer. Even though Bowman has been bad for the last two months, he is still good enough to move up from the 30th starting position. Bowman posted the ninth-fastest speed in practice. He should be a lot for all Cash Contest lineups Sunday.
BRAD KESELOWSKI ($6,900): Michigan is the home track for Keselowski. He has often said that winning at this track would be like winning the Daytona 500 for him. Keselowski does not have the speed to win, but he does have the speed to move up from the 33rd starting position. Keselowski said after practice, “We were not too concerned with speed. I wanted a car that was comfortable over the bumps and had some drivability.” Obviously they were not worried about speed. I still expect Keselowski to move up 13-15 spots Sunday.
TODD GILLILAND ($5,200): Gilliland looked slow in practice. He did not gain much speed in qualifying either. The good news is that Gilliland starts dead last. He is gauraunteed positive points Sunday. His average finishing position in his last 10 races is 19th. Gilliland will be an awesome pick if he can finish 19th Sunday.
DRAFTKINGS TOURNAMENT CONTEST LINEUP
MARTIN TRUEX JR. ($9,500): Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin will be the popular plays from Joe Gibbs Racing. I will pivot to Truex. He said after practice, “We did not know how these hard tires would respond in the corners so I did not push it too hard in practice. Once I figure out where the edge is, we should have the speed we need Sunday.” Truex was fifth-fastest in practice. If he was “taking it easy,” Truex should be blistering fast at Michigan.
RYAN BLANEY ($9,300): I have Blaney in my Cash and Tournament Contest this week. Blaney was eighth-fastest in practice and he knows how to use the draft to pass cars. The No. 12 car should score well from the 24th starting position.
JOEY LOGANO ($8,800): The narrative coming out of practice is, “The Toyota’s have the speed this week.” But do they really? Logano posted the fastest speed on the five-lap average speed chart and he was trending to be the fastest on the 10-lap speed chart too but he aborted his run after nine laps. The No. 22 car is fast. Logano will be my pivot from the Toyota’s Sunday.
DANIEL SUAREZ ($8,600): Remember when everyone was talking about how fast Trackhouse Racing has been all year? It seems like they are flying under the radar this week. Suarez has run well this summer and he should have a good chance to finish in the top-10 from his 15th starting position Sunday. Suarez was 12th fastest in practice and he finished fourth at Auto Club in February. He has the upside to do it again at Michigan.
KEVIN HARVICK ($8,400): Harvick knows he needs a win to make the playoffs. The reporter from SiriusXM Nascar Radio asked Harvick after practice if he has a car to win the race. He said, “The car is pretty good. I know we do not compare to the Toyota’s on the stopwatch but the car drives well. We should be one of the best once the resin is activated because the car felt pretty good up there.” Crew Chiefs Rodney Childers is going to use aggressive pit strategy to get Harvick the lead. He is one of my favorite Tournament Contest plays Sunday.
TODD GILLILAND ($5,200): I have Gilliland in the Cash and Tournament Contest lineup this week. Gilliland is no risk and all reward Sunday. He cannot score negative points and his salary is cheap enough to allow us to fit five drivers into the lineup who can finish in the top-10. The lineup will score really well if the five drivers listed above finish in the top-10 and Gilliland finishes between 25th and 28th positions.
FANDUEL CASH CONTEST LINEUP
FANDUEL TOURNAMENT CONTEST LINEUP
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