The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Brooklyn, Michigan this week for the FireKeepers Casino 400. The race can be seen Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1. Be sure to test your knowledge of NASCAR by competing in the Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing.
Michigan is one of the fastest tracks on the circuit. It was repaved in 2012 and the track now has plenty of grip for drivers to move around on. Drivers will run wide open around the wide 2-mile track and Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne and Kyle Larson are the best at running the top of the track. Running next to the fence will be the best place to make passes Sunday.
This should be a fun race to watch. NASCAR decided to make another rule change to the cars this week at Michigan and the upcoming race at Kentucky. The changes include a reduction in spoiler height from 3.5 inches to 2.5 inches, a splitter reduction of two inches and re-sizing the rear deck fin. Even with these changes, I still expect the cream to rise to the top this week.
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The drivers who have been running well in the last month should be up front in the FireKeepers 400. NASCAR is a momentum sport and fantasy teams need to capitalize on the drivers running well now before they cool off later in the summer. There are seven drivers who have averaged a top-10 finish over the last five races (Not including Talladega). These drivers would all be excellent picks for fantasy teams at Michigan. Here are the seven drivers with a top-10 average finishing position in the last five downforce races...
|Driver's Average Finishing Position Last Five Downforce Races|
|Martin Truex Jr.||9||14||9||1||19||10.4|
Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr. had the two best cars at Michigan in 2015. Both drivers finished the two races at the track in the top five. Kenseth and Truex are currently running as well as any of the drivers in the sport and they should be two of the favorites to finish up front this week.
Here are the results from the two races at Michigan International Speedway in 2015:
2015 Quicken Loans 400 Results
- Kurt Busch
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Matt Kenseth
- Joey Logano
2015 Pure Michigan 400 Results
- Matt Kenseth
- Kevin Harvick
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Austin Dillon
- Denny Hamlin
Three of the last five drivers who went to Victory Lane at Michigan started from the pole. This does not mean fantasy teams should select all of the drivers who start up front this week. The scoring system for 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 must capitalize on the bonus points for position differential in order to finish at the top of their league standings.
Pick to Win
Kevin Harvick ($13,500) has been the best driver at Michigan since the track was repaved in 2012. He finished five of the six races in second-place. He actually had the best car in the only race where he did not finish in the runner-up position, but he had problems with a tire in the pits. Harvick also finished in second-place in the last two intermediate track races at Kansas and Charlotte. All signs point to Harvick finishing second this week, but I expect the No. 4 car to be in Victory Lane at Michigan.
Kurt Busch ($11,900) will have momentum heading into the race at Michigan after his win at Pocono, but he really does not need any extra momentum. Busch has been the most consistent driver in the sport the last two months. He has finished eight consecutive races in the top 10, including four straight top-five finishes. Busch won this race last year and he should be upfront Sunday.
Brad Keselowski ($11,300) is still looking for his first win at his home track. The Rochester Hills, Michigan native has four consecutive finishes in the top-10 at the track but no trips to Victory Lane. Keselowski has two wins this season and the fourth-best average finishing position in the last month. Team Penske has found some speed and the Blue Deuce should finish in the top five this week.
Joey Logano ($10,300) has the best stats in the last four races at Michigan. He has a series-best average finishing position and the second-best driver rating. Logano has finished six races in a row at the track in the top-10, including a trip to Victory Lane in August of 2013. The No. 22 team is still looking for their first win in 2016 and it could come this week at Michigan.
Matt Kenseth ($10,300) has been the most consistent driver from Joe Gibbs Racing the last two months. The No. 20 team has finished five of the last six races in the top seven, including a win at Dover. Kenseth dominated the last race at Michigan. He won the pole and led 146 laps on his way to Victory Lane. If a car from Joe Gibbs Racing is going to win Sunday, it should be the No. 20 car.
Kasey Kahne ($8,200) is often overshadowed by his Hendrick Motorsports teammates, but he is starting to run like the other drivers from the organization. Kahne has finished three of the last five races (not including Talladega) in the top six. He has won before at Michigan and Kahne should get his sixth finish in the top-10 Sunday.
Kyle Larson ($7,300) has been running well the last month and he knows the fast way around the track at Michigan. Larson has finished the last three races in the top 13 and won the Sprint Showdown race and the Xfinity race last week at Pocono. The No. 42 will be running against the wall and should pass many cars in the race this week.
Tony Stewart ($6,500) was all set to have his best run of the season last week at Pocono but he was involved in a wreck with Danica Patrick. The No. 14 team looks to have found some speed and Michigan is a very good track for Stewart. He usually runs well when the tracks heat up and get slick. Stewart should benefit from the new rules package at Michigan.
Ty Dillon ($5,500) will once again be in the No. 95 car for Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing. Last week Dillon was able to finish 21st and he has had success at Michigan in the past. Dillon qualified 22nd and finished 14th in this race last year. He will be well worth his price if Dillon can have similar results Sunday.
Here are my picks for the FireKeepers 400 for Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing:
Driver 1: Kevin Harvick $13,500
Driver 2: Joey Logano $10,300
Driver 3: Matt Kenseth $10,300
Driver 4: Kasey Kahne $8,200
Driver 5: Kyle Larson $7,700
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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.