The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series travels to Brooklyn, Michigan this week for the FireKeepers Casino 400. The race can be seen Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1. Be sure to test your knowledge of NASCAR by competing in the Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing game.
Michigan International Speedway is one of my favorite tracks on the circuit. The track has multiple grooves for drivers to race and make a pass. It was repaved in 2012 and the speeds have been lightning fast ever since. I doubt the speeds will slow down anytime soon.
The best way to select your drivers this week is to look at the drivers who have had success on the 2-mile oval tracks (Auto Club Speedway and Michigan International Speedway). There are six drivers who have a driver rating over 100 in the last seven races at these tracks. These drivers include Chase Elliott (117.1), Kevin Harvick (112.4), Joey Logano 109.7, Martin Truex Jr. (105.7), Brad Keselowski (101.4) and Erik Jones (101.4).
Track position will not be important this week. Drivers can make their way through the field if they have a fast car that qualified poorly. The scoring system for the Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing game rewards drivers who improve their position in the race more than the drivers who lead the most laps. Fantasy teams will need to select drivers who start outside the top 10 Sunday. These drivers will have the best chance to score bonus points for position differential at Michigan.
Pick to Win
Chase Elliott ($10,900) is still looking for his first win in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Last year Kyle Larson won his first race at Michigan and this week it should be Elliott’s turn to take his first checkered flag. Elliott has competed in two races in at Michigan in the Cup Series. He finished both races in second place. Elliott also finished half of his starts in the Xfinity Series at Michigan in the runner up position. First time winners seem to be the theme this year. So far Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Austin Dillon and Ryan Blaney became first time winners. This week Chase Elliott will visit Victory Lane for the first time.
Kyle Larson ($12,500) should be the favorite to win Sunday. Larson won his first career race at Michigan last year and he dominated the race at Auto Club Speedway earlier this season. Larson won the pole and led 110 laps on his way to Victory Lane. The best way to turn fast laps at Michigan is to run near the wall and no driver does it better than Larson. The No. 42 car is an excellent choice for your team this week.
Kevin Harvick ($11,800) will have a great chance to finish in the top five Sunday. Harvick has finished seven of the last eight races at the track in the top five. That includes five finishes in second place. Harvick has a history of running up front and leading laps at Michigan. His price is high but the No. 4 car is worth every dollar this week.
Brad Keselowski ($11,000) is a Michigan native and it is no secret that winning his first race at his home track is at the top of his priority list. Keselowski always runs well at Michigan but he has not been able to get to Victory Lane. That could change Sunday. Keselowski has finished six consecutive races at the track in the top 10. Races at Michigan often come down to fuel strategy. Keselowski’s odds of winning will increase if the race comes down to which driver can save fuel the best.
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,600) has had the fastest car in nearly every race this season and that should not change Sunday. Truex has finished 10 of the 12 non-restrictor plate races in the top 10. He is very good on the 2-mile ovals as well. Truex qualified fourth; led 73 laps and finished fourth earlier this season at Auto Club Speedway. I expect similar results from the No. 78 car Sunday.
Joey Logano ($9,900) has been one of the best drivers at Michigan and Auto Club Speedway. Logano has finished nine consecutive races on the 2-mile ovals in the top 10. Last year Logano won the pole and led 138 laps on his way to Victory Lane in the June race at Michigan. The No. 22 team has been up and down the last month but this is the week when fantasy teams need to get Logano back in their lineups.
Value Picks (Drivers under $8,500)
Kurt Busch ($8,000) is a great value pick for Michigan. Busch has had his up and downs this season but the No. 41 team seems to be trending up after a sixth place finish at Charlotte and a fourth place finish at Pocono. Busch has a series-high three wins at Michigan and 11 finishes in the top 10. Busch should heat up over the summer and his price is still low enough to make him a great fit for your fantasy team.
Daniel Suarez ($7,700) has been one of the surprise drivers this season. Most people expected the No. 19 car to be fast but there were questions about Suarez’s talent behind the wheel. He has silenced his critics this year by finishing four races in the top 10. Suarez had one of his best races at Auto Club Speedway earlier this year. He qualified 10th and finished seventh. Suarez should have similar results Sunday.
Erik Jones ($7,000) is one of the best value picks for your team this week. He consistently finishes in the top 15 but his price reflects a driver who finishes outside the top 20. Jones is another Michigan native who would love to win at his home track. He has never competed in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan but he finished fourth in his only Xfinity Series race at the track. Jones has the talent and car to finish in the top 10 Sunday.
Ryan Blaney ($6,900) will have a lot of momentum after winning his first race last week at Pocono. The No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford has been fast all season. Blaney ran well at Michigan last year. He qualified seventh and finished fourth in the August race at Michigan. Blaney also finished in the top 10 earlier this year at Auto Club Speedway. Last week’s win was not a fluke. Blaney is an emerging star in NASCAR and his win last week will be his first of many more to come.
Here are my pre-qualifying picks for the Firekeepers Casino 400:
Driver 1: Kyle Larson $12,500
Driver 2: Chase Elliott $10,900
Driver 3: Martin Truex Jr. $10,600
Driver 4: Kurt Busch $8,000
Driver 5: Ryan Blaney $6,900
I will have my picks updated on my website (Fantasy Racing Tips) after the last practice.
FOX Fantasy Auto Resources
And don’t forget – prizes are on the line each race of the fantasy season! First, second and third place each win a prize. Plus, each race builds your point total for larger segment and season prizes.
If you need any further advice with your team or want to see my updated picks after Happy Hour practice, look for me on Twitter (@MrFantasyNASCAR).