Who will master NASCAR's summer trip to the Irish Hills?
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads back to Michigan International Speedway this weekend for the Consumers Energy 400. In the series’ first stop at the two-mile track back in June, Clint Bowyer found his way to Victory Lane for his second win this season. The green flag flies Sunday (Aug. 12) at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
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FanDuel has put more emphasis on finishing position than other DFS sites. For this reason, FanDuel allows you to look at the entire field instead of just dominators and big movers.
Also, with only 0.1 points awarded for each lap led by a driver, the need for a dominator is less important when building a winning lineup. The 200-lap race will only have a total of 20.0 points up for grabs in this category. Take note when building your roster and focus on midpack drivers who can climb up toward the front on race day.
ELITE TIER: $11,100 and up
Kevin Harvick ($12,700)
Michigan: 35 starts, one win, 11 top fives, 16 top 10s
Average finish at Michigan: 12.4
Harvick was leading as the rain was approaching the track in June’s Michigan race. At the end of stage 2, the team's pit strategy put him behind teammate Clint Bowyer, and then the skies opened up.
He led 49 laps and finished second. Harvick has six wins, tied for the most in the series. He is the most expensive of “The Big Three,” but only by $200 and $500, respectively.
Martin Truex Jr. ($12,500)
Michigan: 25 starts, six top fives, nine top 10s
Average finish at Michigan: 15.5
The first appearance at Michigan was not a great one for the defending series champion. He started the race 17th and failed to climb his way to the front in the fashion we are used to seeing from the driver of the No. 78. He only ran as high as eighth and spent the majority of the race lingering in the bottom half of the top 15.
As a result, he may be the most looked-over driver in The Big Three. It is expected that the team will bounce back this weekend, especially since Truex does have a win on the other two-mile track this season, Auto Club Speedway.
Kyle Busch ($12,200)
Michigan: 27 starts, one win, five top fives, nine top 10s
Average finish at Michigan: 18.9
Busch is coming off a disappointing third-place finish at Watkins Glen International last weekend. Disappointing because he had the best car late in the race, but a fuel issue on pit road caused him to start from the back of the field on a late race restart. He worked his way from the back to third, which was impressive, but it fell short of expectations for the 2015 series champ.
Busch finished fourth in this race back in June. Even though he did not lead any laps, he ran up front all race long. He is the cheapest of the top three drivers but is the favorite between them.
Kyle Larson ($11,800)
Michigan: Nine starts, three wins, four top fives, five top 10s
Average finish at Michigan: 12.8
Larson’s three-race Michigan win streak ended with the last visit to the track. A mid-race spin through the grass was enough to damage both his car and any hopes of a four-peat. He finished 28th.
If he can have a clean race this weekend, there is no reason he shouldn’t finish in the top five again. Larson excels at the two-mile tracks. Four of his five career Cup Series wins are on the big speedways. Larson will be a popular pick this weekend.
ALL-STAR TIER: $8,900 - $11,000
Clint Bowyer ($11,000)
Michigan: 25 starts, one win, two top fives, 12 top 10s
Average finish at Michigan: 17.0
As mentioned before, pit strategy landed Bowyer in Victory Lane for the second time in 2018. The call for two tires while the rest of the field elected for four was a gutsy one, but all he had to do was hold off a charging Harvick for eight laps until the rain came.
The Stewart-Haas Racing stable was strong at Michigan in June, with a one-two-three finish. Bowyer is a sneaky pick for another win if they can duplicate.
Chase Elliott ($10,600)
Michigan: Five starts, three top fives, five top 10s
Average finish at Michigan: 4.6
Elliott has all the momentum right now. In his 99th cup series start, he finally won his first race at Watkins Glen last weekend. He raced perfectly and outran the best of the best throughout the day.
He was also strong at Michigan earlier this season and has run well at the track over his career. He was runner-up in his first three starts at the track. Much like Larson, he has had immediate success. He finished ninth here in June, his worst finish in five tries. Elliott will be another extremely popular choice coming off a win.
Erik Jones ($9,400)
Michigan: Three starts, one top five, one top 10
Average finish at Michigan: 10.3
In three starts at Michigan, Jones has an average finish of 10.3, second best among all active drivers. He led five laps and finished third here last summer. He followed that up with a 15th place finish this past June.
Current form propels Jones to the top of the list when it comes to the mid-tier rankings this week. He has looked like a seasoned veteran over the past two races. He was a contender for the win on a late race restart at Pocono Raceway, and then he was in the thick of things during the middle of the race at Watkins Glen. He ended up finishing fifth in both races. Jump on him while he is hot.
Aric Almirola ($9,000)
Michigan: 12 starts, three top 15s
Average finish at Michigan: 19.4
Almirola was SHR’s worst finishing driver at Michigan two months ago, finishing 11th. He has a great value price for a driver that has the ability to finish inside the top 10 every weekend. With the team’s great run here before, Almirola should be included in any lineup.
He finished 12th in bad equipment in his only Michigan start in 2017.
BARGAIN TIER: $8,800 and below
Daniel Suarez ($8,400)
Michigan: Three starts, best finish of 24th
Average finish at Michigan: 30.3
Suarez is slowly becoming a dangerous driver, especially late in the race. He nearly won his first race at Pocono a couple weeks ago and followed that up with a fourth-place finish at The Glen. He is comparable to teammate Jones but is priced $1,000 cheaper. This is because he has a terrible track history at Michigan. If you can look past the track history and focus on how good he has been recently, he could win you some contests this weekend.
(Top photo courtesy of ASP, Inc.)