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Daily Fantasy NASCAR Race Preview & Picks for DraftKings - FireKeepers Casino 400
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FireKeepers Casino 400
Michigan International Speedway
Track - Two-Mile D-Shaped Oval Intermediate
Welcome back race fans. Things are starting to heat up as the narrative is changing fast in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Last year's champion, Martin Truex Jr, picked up his second win of the season and joins the elite class with Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick who have dominated the first third of the season with nine wins between them. Even seven-time champions, Jimmie Johnson, is starting to heat up with five Top 10 finishes in his last seven races.
This week the Cup Series heads to Michigan International Speedway for the FireKeepers Casino 400 this Sunday afternoon. As you can see below, Kyle Larson has owned this track lately with three straight wins here and has done it from the 9th and 12th starting positions as well as form the pole in last year's Spring race. The track is a two-mile oval intermediate track that produces some of the top speeds in NASCAR as cars will exceed 200+ mph on the straightaways. While there are only 200 laps in the race, we will be looking at building around a couple dominators as there has been three instances where a driver has led over 100 laps in the last six races. While we rarely seen multiple drivers lead 50 or laps, that changed last season with the start of stage racing as both races had two drivers do so. As always, place differential will come down to qualifying which is on Friday afternoon so be sure to check back for my picks video posted below after final practice. You can also check on my cheatsheeet where I list my top plays when looking at dominators, place differential, GPP pivots, and value plays. Let's now jump in and take a look at some trends here at Michigan and then some pre-qualifying targets.
Last Six Winners at Michigan International Speedway
- 2017(2) - Kyle Larson(started 9th, led 2 laps)
- 2017(1) - Kyle Larson(started 1st, led 96 laps)
- 2016(2) - Kyle Larson(started 12th, led 41 laps)
- 2016(1) - Joey Logano(started 1st, led 138 laps)
- 2015(2) - Matt Kenseth(started 1st, led 146 laps)
- 2015(1) - Kurt Busch(started 24th, led 6 laps)
Top 5 Current Track History at Michigan International Speedway
Over the last two years, no driver has been nearly as dominant as Kyle Larson who has won three straight races here and finished third in the other. He has done it in a variety of ways as well starting 9th, 1st, 12th in his three wins and with a +23 place differential and 140 laps led in those four races leads the field in average fantasy points per race(68.6 DK/68.2 FD). While Larson has stolen the wins, Chase Elliott has been a very close second here at Michigan and by second I mean he has come in the runner-up position in three of the four races and Top 10 in all four for an average of 57.8 DK/62 FD points per race. The only other driver to finish Top 10 in each of the last four trips to Michigan is Jamie McMurray with finishes of 9th, 5th, 8th, and 9th but with no laps led would have been a much better play on FanDuel(if there was FanDuel) with 54.1 points per race(38.1 DK points per race). It feels like I say this every week but with a small sample size, Erik Jones has stood out as well with finishes of 13th(started 14th) and 3rd(started 8th) in his rookie season last year. After a couple below average races in 2016(20th/12th), Martin Truex Jr. rebounded in his championship campaign last year with two Top 10 finishes here at Michigan while leading the field in fast laps(115) and laps led(119) for an average of 87.1 DK/65.3 FD points per race.
Top 5 Career Track History at Michigan International Speedway
There are three drivers tied in career wins(active drivers) here at Michigan and the most impressive one of them all is Kyle Larson as he has done it in just eight career races. Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth also have three wins a piece of their careers here at Michigan but Kenseth has been much more consistent with 14 Top 5's and 20 Top 10's in 37 races. There are then three drivers in Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, and Denny Hamlin who each have two career wins. Looking at fantasy scoring, only Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, and Martin Truex Jr. have averaged over 50 DraftKings and FanDuel points per race over the last three years(six races).
Top 5 Current Track Type History(Two-Mile Intermediate)
For this section, I sorted by average DraftKings points per race over the last four races at the two-mile intermediate's which include two races at both Michigan and Fontana. Martin Truex Jr. leads the way after winning this Spring's race at Fontana and finishing 4th, 6th, and 2nd at the tracks last year and also leads all drivers in those races with 317 laps led. Kyle Larson, despite winning both races at Michigan and the race at Fontana last year plus a runner-up at Fontana this year, sits second to Truex with 70.8 DraftKings points per race. After a terrible stretch of seven races where Kyle Busch never grabbed a Top 10 at a two-mile intermediate, he rebounded last season reeling off Top 10's in all three races and another one at Fontana this Spring. Alex Bowman shows up fourth in average DraftKings scoring but has just the Fontana race this Spring under his belt but he was impressive starting 28th and finishing 13th. Chase Elliott's average fantasy performance is, for the most part, due to his success here at Michigan as he finished 2nd and 8th last year while finishing 10th and 16th at Fontana over teh last two races there. The good news is that we are in Michigan this week.
Top 5 Current Form (Last Six Races)
Kevin Harvick leapfrogged Kyle Busch once again on the fantasy form ranks as they finished 3rd and 4th but Harvick ended up leading 89 laps. They both have two wins over the last six races but Harvick has been more consistent with five Top 5 finishes. The 2017 Series Champion, Martin Truex Jr, made his way up into the Top 5 of fantasy scoring with a win last week at Pocono and he also leads all drivers with an 8.2 average finish over the last six races and that includes a crash at Talladega. Aric Almirola also makes his way back into the Top 5 fantasy form ranks as he picked up his third Top 10 in the last three races and has recorded a +61 place differential. Seven-time champion, Jimmie Johnson, is also starting to heat up as summer rolls around as he has four Top 10's in his last six races with a 9.8 average finish and his poor qualifying efforts have resulted in a +54 place differential.
Pre Qualifying/Practice Targets
Hard not to be the top target this week as he has won three straight races here and was third in other when looking at the last two years. On top of that, he is the fourth most expensive driver this week behind the big three. He has also won from different qualifying positions(9th, 1st, 12th) so if he shows top speed in the final two practices, he will be a near lock in all formats.
Chase Elliott(DK - $9,000 FD - $10,600)
It feels a little weird targeting two Chevy's right off the bat as they have somewhat struggled with the new body but it's hard to deny what these drivers have done here at Michigan. Chase Elliott comes at a bit of a discount and in his four races here, has finished 2nd three times and 8th in the other.
Jamie McMurray(DK - $7,600 FD - $9,200)
Guess what? Another Chevy as early in the week I am concentrating on track history and McMurray fits the bill. Over the last three year's here at Michigan, he has finished Top 10 in four straight and five of the six races and sits with an impressive 9.0 average finish.
Below you will find a copy of my DFS NASCAR cheathsheet which includes Track History, Current Form, DraftKings points averages, Track Type History, Practice/Qualifying Ranks and much more.
Chris Durell has been playing Daily Fantasy Sports for four years and fantasy in general for more than a decade. He is an active player in NFL, MLB, NHL, PGA, and of course NASCAR. He lives in Saskatchewan, Canada with his wife and two daughters. You can follow him on Twitter at @jager_bombs9 for advice, strategy, answers to any NASCAR questions or how he copes with the winters up north.