Do you like speed? Then the FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway is the race for you. The MENCS will once again use the 550 HP, higher-downforce aero package this week. That means the drivers will hold the throttle wide open around the 2-mile track. There will be a lot of passing and a lot of lead changes. It should be an exciting race to watch. The FireKeepers Casino 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.
The DGG changed the roster lock period to Saturday morning so I will be updated the picks after the two practices Friday evening.
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…
Driver Group Game A Picks
I would love to use Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. in every race but we can only use them 8 times during the season. I am going to try my luck with two drivers who have been running really well lately. (I would use Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick over these two drivers if I had 5 or more allocations with them)
Brad Keselowski (6): 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 (8): 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 will extend his streak of top 5 finishes to 5 races this week.
Group A Driver Rankings: 1) Kyle Busch 2) Brad Keselowski 3) Chase Elliott 4) Kevin Harvick 5) Martin Truex Jr. 6) Kyle Larson 7) Joey Logano
Driver Group Game B Picks
Denny Hamlin (4): Hamlin finally ended his streak of finishes outside the top 15 with a solid run at Pocono (Hamlin finished 6th). Now Hamlin will get to compete at one of his best tracks. Hamlin ranks 6th in Driver Ranking and 5th in average finishing position in the last 4 races at Michigan. Joe Gibbs Racing has a lot speed right now so I want a few of their drivers on my team.
Erik Jones (4): Jones is another Joe Gibbs Racing driver who should run well Sunday. The 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 the young driver.
Kurt Busch (6): Busch has proven this season that he does not need a fast car in order to finish in the top 12. 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 finished 6 of the 7 race in the top 11). 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.
Clint Bowyer (4): The last pick in Group B should be Ryan Blaney according to the stats but I do not trust the No. 12 team right now. Bowyer has been hit or miss at Michigan in his career but he did win this race last year. The No. 14 car has been running well lately. Bowyer has finished 7 of the last 8 non Superspeedway races in the top 10. He should qualify up front and finish in the top 10 again Sunday.
Group B Driver Rankings: 1) Kurt Busch 2) Denny Hamlin 3) Erik Jones 4) Clint Bowyer 5) Ryan Blaney 6) Alex Bowman 7) Daniel Suarez 8) William Byron 9) Aric Almirola 10) Jimmie Johnson
Driver Group Game C Picks
Chris Buescher (4): Buescher is clearly the best driver in Group C. I am going to keep using Buescher at the larger tracks until the other teams catch up (I found out this week that Matt DiBenedetto has been using new cars and they have not figured them out yet. I am sure they will at the end of the summer). Buescher has been too hot to fade right now. He finished 10th at Kansas, 6th at Charlotte and 14th at Pocono. I will use another allocation with Buescher this week.
Daniel Hemric (3): Hemric said before the race at Pocono on SiriusXm NASCAR radio, “I just want to get through the race at Pocono without making any mistakes and move onto Michigan. I love that track (Michigan). I have run well there and it should be my best track this season.” OK, I will buy that. Hemric finished 2nd in the Xfinity Series race at Michigan last year. I expect Hemric to qualify well and finish in the top 20 Sunday.
Group C Driver Rankings: 1) Chris Buescher 2) Daniel Hemric 3) Matt DiBenedetto 4) Ty Dillon 5) Ryan Preece
Driver Group Game Team
Group A: Brad Keselowski (6), Chase Elliott (8)
Group B: Denny Hamlin (4), Erik Jones (4), Kurt Busch (6), Clint Bowyer (4)
Group C: Chris Buescher (4), Daniel Hemric (3)
I will post my final picks for Driver Group Game Saturday evening.
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
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