Daily Fantasy NASCAR Race Preview & Picks for DraftKings - Consumers Energy 400
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Consumers Energy 400
Michigan International Speedway - Brooklyn, MI
Track - 2 Mile D-Shaped Oval Intermediate
Welcome back race fans. We witnessed another exciting road course race last week at Watkins Glen where Chase Elliott fought off Martin Truex Jr. to win his first career Cup race. It was also just the second win for the Chevrolet camp and first since the Daytona 500 at the start of the year. Despite a fueling issue on pit road, Kyle Busch made his way through the field to pick up a third-place finish and extend his points lead over Kevin Harvick with just four races remaining until the Playoffs. Speaking of the playoffs, let's take a look at the drivers sitting around the bubble.
Jimmie Johnson(563 pts)
Alex Bowman(523 pts)
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.(461 pts)
Paul Menard(451 pts)
It appears those drivers on the outside looking in are going to need a win to sneak into the playoffs unless Jimmie and Bowman have multiple catastrophic races down the stretch. We will just have to tune in to see how it all unfolds.
This week the Monster Energy Cup Series returns to Michigan International Speedway for the Consumers Energy 400 this Sunday afternoon. Michigan is one of two intermediate tracks(Auto Club Speedway the other) on the circuit that are two miles in length and both are D-Shaped Ovals. The only difference between the two is about four degrees of banking in the corners but overall they are good comps that have me weighing track type a lot higher than last week. When researching, keep in mind that Clint Bowyer's win here earlier this season was a rain shortened race that had just 133 laps.
From a fantasy perspective, there will be 200 laps in the race and looking at the five races before the rain-shortened race earlier this year there have been three drivers to lead 100 or more laps. In those five races, qualifying and track position has also proven to be very important as there have been five, seven, eight, five, and seven drivers to start inside the Top 10 and finish there at the end. Place differential is largely dependent on qualifying, especially with the crazy inspection results we have seen throughout the year, so stay tuned to my sheet for updates and my top targets going into lineup lock. Let's get into the track trends and top pre-qualifying targets.
Last Six Winners at Michigan
- Clint Bowyer(started 12th)
- Kyle Larson(started 9th)
- Kyle Larson(started 1st)
- Kyle Larson(started 12th)
- Joey Logano(started 1st)
- Matt Kenseth(started 1st)
Top 5 Current Track History at Michigan
Although he has yet to win here, Chase Elliott has gotten very close as he started his career with three straight runner-up finishes and has not finished outside the Top 10 yet at the track. He will carry a ton of momentum into arguably his best track following his first career win and should most definitely be on your radar. Before finishing 28th in the race earlier this season at Michigan, Kyle Larson won three straight at the track and has four Top 5's in the last five races and leads all drivers with an average of 52.4 DK/55.1 FD points per race. The Chevy's have some momentum building and should not be overlooked this week. Another Chevy driver, Jamie McMurray, has also been good here at Michigan lately and joins Elliott as the only other driver to finish Top 10 in each of the last five races. After a less than stellar performance at Watkins Glen(relative to his season averages), Kevin Harvick will look to get back on track(no pun intended) here at Michigan where he has been consistent lately with three Top 5's in his last five races and also led 49 laps earlier this season and almost beat his teammate Clint Bowyer.
Top 5 Career Track History at Michigan
There are five active drivers with multiple wins here at Michigan but Kyle Larson stands out in a big way as he has three in just nine career races. Kurt Busch is the only other driver in this field with three career wins(2015, 2007, 2003) and he also leads all active drivers not named Jimmie Johnson in laps led with 491. Three other drivers have two wins apiece and Joey Logano leads the way winning in 2016 and has finished Top 10 in 10 of his last 11 trips to MIS. Ryan Newman won back to back races here in 2003 and 2004 but hasn't been nearly as good lately with just two Top 10's in his last 11 trips here. Same story for Denny Hamlin who won in 2010 and 2011 but has just four Top 10's in his last 14 trips.
Top 5 Current Track Type History(Two-Mile Intermediate)
We already talked about Chase Elliott's incredible consistency at Michigan and he has been almost as good at Auto Club as well and overall has seven Top 10's in his last eight races on the two-mile intermediate tracks. Brad Keselowski has been slightly more consistent at Auto Club lately thanks to two finishes outside the Top 15 at Michigan in 2017 but overall has 11 Top 10's in his last 13 races on the two-mile intermediate tracks. His teammate, Joey Logano, has very similar stats with five Top 5's and seven Top 10's in his last eight races on the track type and going deeper has 12 Top 10's in his last 13. Jamie McMurray isn't getting you wins or Top 5's but given the price, he has been very consistent with seven Top 10's in his last eight races on the track type. If you are looking for upside, Kyle Larson is the man as he won three straight here at Michigan and during that streak also won at Auto Club Speedway last season. If I had to guess, I would say Chevrolet is going to have another good week here at Michigan.
Top 5 Current Form (Last Six Races)
With a runner-up finish last week and his 15th Top 10 of the season, Martin Truex Jr. holds his spot at #1 in the form ranks and comfortably sitting 3rd in points with four races to go in the regular season. Erik Jones continued his red-hot summer with his second straight Top 5 finish and jumped Kevin Harvick for the #2 spot this. Pretty big accomplishment jumping two of the "Big 3" in the last two weeks. Harvick and Kyle Busch both have five Top 10's in their last six races and will look to finish strong as the winner of the regular season points race will receive a bonus 15 Playoff points. A bit of a surprise this week as Ryan Newman jumps into the Top 5 form ranks with a 12.8 average finish in his last six races and not far behind him is last week's winner, Chase Elliott who has heated up down the stretch with three straight Top 10's.
Pre Qualifying/Practice Targets
You can not go wrong building around any of the "Big 3" this week but looking outside those drivers, I will be looking to get some exposure to Kyle Larson. Before the race this spring, he had three straight wins here and has five total Top 10's in nine career races. Chevrolet has built some momentum lately and while it may be hard to trust them in cash games, they make excellent GPP options.
Like I mentioned above in the preview, no driver has been as consistent here at Michigan than Chase Elliott. He has raced here five times early in his career and has finished Top 10 in all five with three runner-up finishes. He has been up and down all season but has caught fire lately with three straight Top 10 finishes including his first career win last week. He is one Chevy driver I would consider using in cash games and will also have plenty of exposure in GPP's as well.
I will stick with the youth movement this week and be paying close attention to what Erik Jones does in practice and qualifying. He has finished Top 15 in all three of his races here at Michigan including a third-place finish in this race last year and comes in red-hot with Top 10 finishes in six of his last seven races overall. At his price, he is also a top target in all formats.
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.