The Sprint Cup Series moves to the Irish Hills for the Firekeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Last June, it was Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kurt Busch ($9,700) taking checkers at the first of two stops at MIS. He also won last week at Pocono Raceway, so he’ll be a popular selection among DFS and seasonal Fantasy players this weekend.
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Matt Kenseth ($9,900) will also have high exposure this week, as he is the defending champion after ending the American manufacturer domination last August, steering his Toyota to Victory Lane. It was the first win by Toyota since August 2011 at the track. Kenseth certainly enjoys the Irish Hills, posting a 105.1 Driver Rating over his past 12 starts at the track, best among all active drivers. In recent years he has tailed off a bit, posting a 97.9 Driver Rating in the past five starts, according to NASCAR’s Loop Data, but he still cannot be ignored. During the span he still has 151 laps led, second among all drivers, and he has run 67.9 percent of his laps inside the Top 15. Over his career he has three wins, 14 Top 5s, 20 Top10s and just two finishes outside the Top 20 in 33 career starts, posting a 10.2 Average-Finish Position (AFP).
Kenseth is behind only teammate Carl Edwards ($9,500) in terms of AFP at MIS. Edwards hasn’t done his celebratory back flip since August 2008 at the track, but he is always in the mix. With the exception of a bomb out in spring 2014, he has a Driver Rating of 98.5 or better in six of his past eight stops at Michigan. He has two career wins, nine Top 5s and 16 Top 10s in 23 career starts, good for a sparkling 9.7 AFP. He’ll be a popular selection this weekend, and rightly so.
(DraftKings.com salaries in parentheses)
Kyle Busch ($10,100) hasn’t exactly enjoyed the success his teammates have at Michigan, posting just one win and four Top 5 finishes in 22 career starts. He has also been inside the Top 10 on just six occasions, rolling to a dismal 19.6 AFP. Over the past 12 races at MIS he doesn’t register inside the Top 10 in terms of Driver Rating. In Yahoo! Sports, where you have a limited amount of starts per driver, you’ll certainly want to hold back from using Rowdy this weekend.
Kyle’s brother Kurt, on the other hand, we touched on earlier. Over the past five starts at MIS he has a 101.9 Driver Rating with 68 laps led and 82.7 percent of his laps turned inside the Top 15. His win last spring was his first at the run since August 2007 in the 3M Performance 400, but he has recorded 10 Top 10s and 16 Top 20s in 30 career starts at the track while leading 445 laps, third-most among all active drivers.
Kurt’s teammate Kevin Harvick ($10,600) is the most expensive option on the DraftKings board this week. Over the past five races at MIS he ranks first in Driver Rating with a 122.3 mark, and he has run 94.1 percent of his laps inside the Top 15 while leading 141, third-most among all drivers. In addition, his AFP is 7.4 during the impressive span. He has just one win at the track in 30 career starts, but he has finished outside the Top 20 only six times while posting a 13.2 AFP. Over the past 12 stops in the Irish Hills, Harvick is second in Driver Rating at 104.1, so the consistency is certainly there.
While he has certainly tailed off over the past two seasons, Roush Fenway Racing’s Greg Biffle ($6,900) has tremendous overall numbers at Michigan. He leads all active drivers with four wins, with the last one coming as recently as June 2013 in the Quicken Loans 400. Biffle has a 100.4 Driver Rating over the past 12 starts at Michigan, third-best among all drivers, but he has struggled in three of his past four races at the track. If he is going to produce good results, it is MIS, and he is worth a look as a No. 4 or 5 Fantasy option in NASCAR’s Fantasy Live or DraftKings.
SHR’s Tony Stewart ($7,300) struggled at Michigan in 2015, but before that he turned in very positive results on a regular basis. He has a 90.8 Driver Rating over his past 10 starts at the track, and he has one win with 12 Top 5s and 20 Top 10s in 32 career starts with a 12.5 AFP, third-best among all active drivers. Smoke isn’t quite himself lately, but he is slowly getting it together and this could be the track he makes a move. He needs to post a win, and finish inside the Top 30 in the standings, if he wants to make the Chase. It’s a long shot, but Michigan is a place he has a very good chance to win. You can do a lot worse than Stewart with your final roster spot.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($9,400) last won at the track in June 12, and he has two career wins in 33 starts with 355 laps and a 15.1 AFP. He has always performed well in Michigan, as has Kasey Kahne ($8,000), his teammate. Kahne won in a Dodge way back in June 2006 at MIS. Despite the win drought, he has been consistent, posting 10 Top 10s and 16 Top 20s in 24 career starts with a 15.8 AFP. Kahne is a solid mid-tier price driver. Hendrick teammate Jimmie Johnson ($10,000) will also be itching for a good finish after bombing out at Pocono last weekend. But his overall numbers at MIS are just average, posting one win, 11 Top 10s and 19 Top 20s in 28 career starts with a marginal 16.8 AFP. His Fantasy value per dollar spent is not terribly high this week.
Paul Menard ($6,300) is another low- to mid-tier Fantasy option who will shine Sunday. Over the past five Michigan races he checks in seventh in Driver Rating at 96.5. While he hasn’t led a lap during the stretch, he has run 74.7 percent of his laps inside the Top 15 while posting a 6.4 AFP, second-best among all drivers. He has been consistent in the Irish Hills over his career, posting four Top 5s and 11 Top 20s in 19 career starts with a decent 17.5 AFP, ranking ahead of the likes of Austin Dillon ($8,200), Kyle Busch, Aric Almirola ($6,400), Kyle Larson ($8,900) and even Kurt Busch.
Lastly, it was a winning combination last week, and it will be a winning combination again at Michigan. Rolling with a Penske Racing combo of Joey Logano ($9,800) and Michigan native Brad Keselowski ($9,200) is a sound Fantasy strategy for one or more of your lineups. Over the past five starts at MIS, Logano has a 117.9 Driver Rating, and Kes 108.2, ranking two-three among all drivers. Logano’s 5.0 AFP during the stretch ranks No. 1. While the two have just one win between them at the track in 27 career starts, Logano has nine Top 10s in 14 starts with a 13.6 AFP, and Keselowski is right on his heels with six Top 10s and a 13.7 AFP in 13 career runs. They’re consistent, they’re hungry and Keselowski would love to post a win at his home track. It will happen sooner rather than later.
Other lower-priced notables include Ryan Newman ($7,100), who has two wins and 20 Top 20s in 29 career starts for a 16.9 AFP, Danica Patrick ($6,100) who has four Top 20s in six starts with an 18.7 AFP and Jamie McMurray ($7,700), who has landed inside the Top 20 in 17 of his 26 career starts for an 18.6 AFP.
NASCAR FANTASY LINEUPS FOR MICHIGAN
|No.||Driver||DraftKings Salary||No.||Driver||Fantasy Live Salary||No.||Yahoo! Sports Driver|
|1||Matt Kenseth||$9,900||1||Brad Keselowski||$26.25||1||Brad Keselowski|
|2||Joey Logano||$9,800||2||Joey Logano||$26.00||2||Carl Edwards|
|3||Brad Keselowski||$9,200||3||Paul Menard||$20.00||3||Paul Menard|
|4||Ryan Newman||$7,100||4||Greg Biffle||$18.25||4||Landon Cassill|
|5||Greg Biffle||$6,900||5||David Ragan||$7.75|