NASCAR Picks for Michigan
Length: 2.000 miles
Shape: D-shaped Oval
Location: Brooklyn, Michigan
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Fresh off a trip to Pocono Raceway, the Cup Series heads to Michigan International Speedway this weekend for the Quicken Loans 400. At first glance, the wide surface of the D-shaped oval would seem to have little in common with the flat corners and triangle-shaped layout of Pocono, but in reality, races at both tracks can take on similar feels. Cautions can be few and far between at both Pocono and MIS, and fuel mileage is often the determining factor at both tracks. Meanwhile, both tracks produce very high speeds, and if fuel mileage isn't jumbling up the finishing order, a rash of engines failures probably is.
As a result, it is nearly impossible to find a driver without a few blemishes on their Michigan resume. In fact, only two drivers finished in the top five in both races at MIS last year, and only one driver has an active streak of three of more top-10s at the track. Granted, there are a few drivers that have been more reliable than most at Michigan, but unfortunately for fantasy owners, MIS is just the type of track where even a great driver can have a very bad day.
Matt Kenseth, #20 Husky/Dollar General, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Kenseth has enjoyed a lot of success at Michigan throughout his career. In addition to his two wins, he owns a 9.6 average finish at the track and has 17 top-10s in 27 career starts. Four of those top-10s have come in the last five races at MIS, and during the stretch, Kenseth has cracked the top five on three occasions.
Carl Edwards, #99 Fastenal/Aflac/UPS/Subway, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class B]
He has been the model of consistency at Michigan, and Edwards' 8.2 average finish at the track is currently the best among active drivers. In 17 starts at MIS, he has only finished outside the top 12 twice. More importantly, Edwards has tallied 13 top-10s, nine top-five finishes and two wins during those 17 starts. He is a safe bet to finish near the front of the field this weekend.
Jimmie Johnson, #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
While Michigan is actually one of the few tracks where Johnson has never won, he has certainly been close on several occasions. In fact, Johnson has led the most laps at the track on multiple occasions only to come up short on fuel in the final laps. Despite the bad luck, he has managed a pair of top-five finishes in his last three starts, and it is only a matter of time before he crosses MIS off his checklist.
Greg Biffle, #16 3M/Bondo, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Biffle is no stranger to running up front at Michigan. He is a three-time winner at the 2.0-mile oval with his most-recent trip to victory lane coming in August of 2012. Overall, his 11.8 average finish at the track is the fourth best in the series, and in his last nine starts at MIS, he has seven top-15s, including five top-five finishes.
Kasey Kahne, #5 Farmers Insurance/Quaker State, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
Although his average finish at Michigan has been bogged down by a few bad outings, there is no denying Kahne's ability to deliver elite finishes at the track. In 18 career starts at MIS, Kahne has notched seven top-five finishes, including a win and three second-place efforts. Throw in the fact that he has five top-15s in his last seven starts at the track, and Kahne offers fantasy owners huge upside with minimal risk this weekend.
Brad Keselowski, #2 Miller Lite, Penske Racing [Yahoo Class A]
After a horrible start to his Cup career at Michigan, Keselowski has turned it on recently. He has a 6.0 average finish in his last three starts and has picked up a pair of top-three finishes during the stretch. At this rate, Keselowski will likely be in victory lane at MIS sooner rather than later.
Tony Stewart, #14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1, Stewart-Haas Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Stewart is a former winner at MIS, and since the start of the 2003 season, his 10.5 average finish at the track ranks third in the series. Not to mention the fact that since the start of the 2010 season, he has logged five top-10 finishes in six starts. Stewart finished second at Michigan last June, and he should be good for a top-10 this weekend if not more.
Denny Hamlin, #11 FedEx, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Despite a couple of terrible outings at Michigan the last two years, Hamlin's career numbers at the track stack up well. In fact, he has finished 11th or better six times in eight starts since 2009. More importantly, Hamlin has four top-three finishes during the stretch, including a pair of wins, so the good definitely outweighs the bad.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., #88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class B]
Last year, no driver was better at the 2.0-mile tracks than Junior. At Michigan alone, he went to victory lane in the June event and followed it up with a fourth-place run in August. At the very least, Junior should provide fantasy owners with a solid run this weekend, and a top-five finish isn't out of the question.
Clint Bowyer, #15 5-Hour Energy, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Although he has never had a top-five finish at Michigan, Bowyer still has plenty of fantasy value this weekend. After all, his four straight top-10 finishes at the track mark the longest active streak in the series. Not to mention the fact that Bowyer has finished in the top 15 in seven of his last eight starts at MIS.
Kyle Busch, #18 Mars Brands/Interstate Batteries, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class B]
He can run hot and cold at almost any track, but Busch has been particularly volatile at Michigan. Last year, he finished outside the top 10 in both starts at the track, including a 32nd-place effort in the June event. The year before, he finished third in the June race and won the August event. Busch has the potential to deliver fantasy owners a win this weekend, but just know going in that he is far from a sure thing.
Kevin Harvick, #29 Budweiser/Rheem, Richard Childress Racing [Yahoo Class A]
While Harvick did win the August race at MIS in 2010, the victory is his lone top-five at the track since 2004. In general, Harvick's value at Michigan comes from his ability to avoid bad finishes, and he has finished outside the top 20 only once in his last 14 starts at the track. Harvick probably is the best option in formats where owners need the most bang for their buck out of a driver, but he should have a respectable day nonetheless.