The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series travels to Michigan International Speedway this week for the FireKeepers 400. This will be the fourth consecutive race for the MENCS teams using the 550 HP engine, higher-downforce aero package. If you like close racing and a lot of passing, this is the race for you. The drivers will be able to hold it wide open around the 2-mile oval track. It will be entertaining for sure. The FireKeepers 400 can be seen Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on FS1.
The MENCS will have the same schedule they had last week at Pocono. There will be two practices Friday. The first practice will be at 2 p.m. ET (No TV) and final practice will be at 4 p.m. ET on FS1. Qualifying will be Saturday at 12 p.m. ET on FS1.
NASCAR will have a inspect the cars Saturday prior to qualifying so we do not have to worry about cars going to the back and losing their qualifying position.
Denny Hamlin won the pole for the last race at Michigan. The No. 11 car led 13 laps before Kevin Harvick took over the race. The No. 4 car won both Stages, led 108 of the 200 laps and went to Victory Lane I the Consumers Energy 400. Brad Keselowski finished 2nd at his home track and Kyle Busch had a strong race. The No. 18 car finished 2nd in both Stages, led 22 laps and finished 3rd.
Race Rewind at Michigan: Consumers Energy 400 (2018)
Here are my picks for Michigan…
DraftKings NASCAR Preview
There are 200 laps in the race Sunday. That means there are 50 points available for leading laps and 1000 points available for fastest laps. The trend at Michigan is to have one driver lead around 100 laps and two other drivers lead between 30-40 laps. The 2019 aero package has kept the cars closer together and allowed for more lead changes. I expect the main dominator to lead around 65-70 laps and there should be 3-4 sub-dominators in the race.
My strategy this week will be to select 2-3 dominators for my lineups since I think there will be 4-5 drivers who lead at least 20 laps Sunday. If we can find the main dominator and 2 of the sub-dominators, our lineups should easily cash Sunday.
The drivers I expect to dominate the race Sunday include: Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Chase Elliott
Top 15 DraftKings Drivers in Last 6 Races at Michigan
|Avg. Finish Pos.||Laps Led||
|1. Kevin Harvick||
|2. Chase Elliott||
|3. Kyle Larson||
|4. Brad Keselowski||
|5. Martin Truex Jr.||
|6. Kurt Busch||
|7. Joey Logano||
|8. Kyle Busch||
|9. Erik Jones||
|10. Austin Dillon||
|11. Ryan Blaney||
|12. Aric Almirola||
|13. Jimmie Johnson||
|14. Paul Menard||
|15. Darrell Wallace Jr.||
I will post my final DraftKings picks no later than Sunday morning.
Fantasy Live Preview
I really thought the picks last week would move us further up in the standings than what they did. All of the drivers finished in the top 10, except Kyle Larson, who got into the wall at the end of the race. We were still able to score the bonus points for the race winner and the winning manufacturer so I would call Pocono a success. We need a good race this week to beat 99% of the competition (Currently beating 98.9%).
*Pick for the Pole*: Our pick for the pole needs to be in before qualifying at 12 p.m. ET Saturday. My pole pick will be posted after the final practice Friday.
Here are the drivers I have penciled in right now…
5 Starting Drivers
I am going to try and make it through the race at Michigan without using an allocation with Kyle Busch or Kevin Harvick. I am running low on starts with these two drivers so I need to save them. I would use Busch or Harvick (In that order) over Erik Jones and Kurt Busch if we had unlimited allocations.
Martin Truex Jr. (6): I am noticing a trend with Truex. His last 6 races look like this… 1st, 20th, 1st, 19th, 1st and 35th. If the trend continues then Martin Truex Jr. should be in Victory Lane Sunday. Truex did not have a good season at Michigan last year (He finished 14th and 18th) but he ran very well at the track in 2017 (finished 2nd and 6th). So which Truex are we going to get this week? As long as we have a good driver in the garage it is a good idea to take a chance that the top-5 Truex will show up this week.
Brad Keselowski (3): The race Sunday means a lot to Keselowski. I interviewed him at Media Days at Daytona before the season and I asked him what his goals were for 2019. He said winning the Daytona 500 and finally winning at his home track (Michigan) were at the top of this list. Keselowski came close to winning at Michigan last year (He finished 2nd). I think he finally gets the job done and goes to Victory Lane Sunday.
Chase Elliott (5): Do not touch Elliott if you see him. He is sizzling hot right now. Elliott has finished 1st, 5th, 4th and 4th in his last 4 races. The No. 9 car will have a great chance to finish in the top 5 again Sunday. Elliott has competed in 6 races at Michigan in his career. He has NEVER finished outside the top 10. This was one of the best tracks for his dad (Bill Elliott) and the apple does not fall far from the tree. Elliott extend his streak of top 5 finishes to 5 races this week.
Kyle Larson (7): If we were playing BINGO this week, Larson would be our free square. He always runs well at this track. The secret to his success is the way he runs his car up against the wall. Since the MENCS teams will be using the 550 HP engines with the higher-downforce aero package, I am not so sure running against the wall will be an advantage. Each driver should be able to run their throttle wide open at the bottom of the track. I still think Larson will be good. Drivers always perform well when they feel comfortable at a track and Larson should feel right at home in Michigan.
Erik Jones (8): Joe Gibbs Racing has a lot speed right now so I want at least one of their drivers on my team. This Michigan native has made it clear that he wants to win at his home track and JGR should provide a car fast enough to get the job done. Jones has really run well in the 550 HP engine, higher-downforce aero package. He finished 3 of the last 4 races on non Superspeedways using this package in the top 4 (Jones finished 3rd at Pocono, 3rd at Kansas and 4th at Texas). This is a good race to take a chance with Jones.
My Garage Driver this week will likely be Kurt Busch (6). Busch has proven this season that he does not need a fast car in order to finish in the top 10. His car was absolute junk last week at Pocono and he finished 11th. Busch has been the most consistent driver in the field while using the 550 HP engine, higher-downforce aero package. Busch has a series-high 3 wins at Michigan. If he is going to win his first race of the season it should happen this week.
My Bonus Picks will be updated after I see the cars on the track this weekend. Here are my thoughts right now…
Pick for the Pole: Kevin Harvick
Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Larson
Stage 2 Winner: Chase Elliott
Race Winner: Brad Keselowski
Winning Manufacturer: Ford
** Photos from NASCAR Media
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
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