FROM TIME TO TIME WE DISCOVER GREAT WORK WITHIN OUR COMMUNITY FORUMS. WE LIKE TO SPOTLIGHT OUR MEMBERS AND HIGHLIGHT THEIR TALENTS ON THE FRONT PAGE. HERE’S “joker2979” WITH HIS QUICKEN LOANS 400 BREAKDOWN.
Here’s a rundown of recommended plays for Sunday. Note, all stats discussed below are over the last six races at this track, mainly due to it being repaved prior to the 2012 season. Michigan is an insanely fast track and the teams with big time horsepower will run very well. You’re going to want to have drivers from Hendrick Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing, and Penske Racing somewhere in your lineups. With this being a 200-lap race, it will be wise to key in on the drivers with the best place differential potential.
Kevin Harvick ($13,900): Harvick is in a great position to run up front for most of tomorrow’s race. He’ll start 2nd and ranked 1st, 2nd, and 5th in each of the three practices. He has the best average finish (6.0), 3rd best driver rating (106.4), and has been the runner-up here in each of the last four races. If spending up for Harvick, it will be because you feel confident he can get out front and lead the most laps tomorrow. It is possible to build a solid lineup around Kevin Harvick, if you so choose.
Jimmie Johnson ($13,000): Jimmie won this race last year and had a 9th place finish in August, but finished outside of the top 25 in three consecutive races prior to 2014. He’s qualified 8th and his car has run in similar spots throughout the practice sessions this weekend. He’s a safe play for a top 10 finish, but not a necessary spend due to the points listed above.
Kurt Busch ($12,300): Michigan is not a Kurt Busch track. Despite a 3rd place finish in the August 2013 race and being 13th here last June, Kurt’s other finishes since the repaving have been outside 30th. With that said, his car has ranked 17, 9, and 17, respectively in this weekend’s practice sessions and Busch will start 24th. To cash on DraftKings, you need to roster those drivers who start deep in the field with the ability to move up in place differential. His stats here could scare owners away, making him a sneaky (and risky) GPP play.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. ($11,900): Dale Jr. is a great roster selection for this week. He won the first race on the repaved track back in 2012 and, since the repaving, ranks 2nd in average driver rating (106.7) and most laps led (179). Jr has also posted three top 5s over this period. He’ll start 14th, but his car has run inside the top 10 throughout practices and could push for a top 5 finish tomorrow.
Martin Truex, Jr. ($11,500): Martin’s performance at Michigan last year was brutal (37th, 36th) but I wouldn’t sweat it too much. Why? Because his car is crazy fast yet again this week. He ranks 2nd in combined practices and finished each practice session inside the top 5. He starts 9th but won’t be there for very long. Truex will get towards the front quickly and should push the race leaders. I learned through seasonal leagues to run the guys on hot streaks and Martin is as hot as they come right now.
Brad Keselowski ($11,300): Brad will start 3rd Sunday and has the best average running position (8.3) and 5th best driver rating (105.0) since the repaving. He’s finished the last three races there in the top 5 and should put together a strong race. Enough to win? I don’t think so, which leads me to lean towards his Penske teammate.
Joey Logano ($11,200): Logano has four straight top-10s at MIS, including a win and a runner-up finish. He’s also led the most laps at Michigan since 2012 and has the 4th best driver rating (105.4). Joey was 2nd at the first practice session and ranked 8th in combined practices. I slightly prefer Logano over Keselowski because of his starting position (11th) creating more opportunities for positive place differential, given his track history.
Jeff Gordon ($11,100): I view Gordon in a similar position to Johnson this week. He’s a good play for a top 10 finish, but there may not be anything significant beyond his finish due to starting 6th. The difference that I see is Gordon needs a win and his car is fast this week, topping the 3rd practice session. I’d limit him to GPP if you believe in win potential for the 24. There are better cash game plays available.
Kasey Kahne ($10,800): Kahne has been gaining momentum the past few weeks. This week, his car ranks 3rd in combined practices and he’ll start from the pole. He’s had a mixed bag of recent results at Michigan, with two top-5s and three top-10s, but two finishes outside of the top 30. His recent driver rating here ranks 11th, but no stats really jump out at me. Kahne will shoot for that win and could lead a bunch of laps early. The risk is him falling out of the top 5 and having his place differential hurt your total.
Kyle Busch ($10,800): Kyle reminds me of Chris Davis for MLB DFS. He could drive the hell out of his car to victory lane (boom) or drive the hell out of his car and wreck (bust). Busch’s car ranked 4th and 2nd in the final two practice sessions and there is always that chance he goes off from his starting position of 10th and drives out of his mind. His recent history there has been awful (outside top 30 in last three races), so use him at your own risk.
Paul Menard ($9,700): Menard has placed 4th in his last three races here and, this year at Michigan’s sister track in Fontana finished….yup, you guessed it….4th! He is very consistent on the two-mile ovals and owns the 6th best driving rating since 2012 at Michigan. His car ranked 19, 24, and 21 in practices and Menard starts 17th tomorrow. If his consistency continues, those place differential points will be huge.
Greg Biffle ($9,400): A race at Michigan could be good for whatever has ailed the Biff this season. Since 2012, Greg has won twice, posted three top-5s and five top-10s at MIS. He’s got the best average driver rating (108.4), led the 3rd most laps (140), and has the 3rd best average run position (9.7). There is concern with his rank of 24 in combined practices and qualifying 21st. With a price tag under the average cost of a roster spot, given his history at Michigan, Biffle is worth a look.
Clint Bowyer ($8,700): I love the price and the start position (32nd). Like Biffle, Bowyer’s 2015 season has been pretty rough, but recent success at Michigan could help reverse his fortunes. Bowyer has six consecutive top-10 finishes (8 if counting the old paving) at this track. He has the 9th best driver rating (92.3), but ranks 2nd in average finish position (7.0). Getting his car at or near the top 20 will add big place and pass differential points to your total.
Ty Dillon ($7,700): Dillon raced well at Pocono last week and has consistently ranked 22nd practice through qualifying. He’ll be a popular pick and should drive to a top-20 finish.
Casey Mears ($7,500): Mears is my other below $8k pick to consider this week. His car ranked 22nd in combined practices and he qualified 27th. Casey has finished in the top-25 in the last four races at MIS, including a 17th place finish last August. I like Mears over guys like Alex Bowman, Michael Annett, and Justin Allgaier because of the recent history and another top-25 still outscores a top-30ish finish for the other cheap options.