We’re at Michigan International Speedway this weekend for the Consumers Energy 400. This is a 2-mile race track that compares most to Fontana–where we raced at back in March–and we always make two stops during the season in the Irish Hills of Michigan. The last time we were here (in June), Joey Logano started on the pole and set a record for laps led in a Michigan race, staying out front for 163 of the 203 laps en route to victory. One interesting thing with that statistic, though, is that he had just SEVEN fastest laps in that race. Not seventy…seven. We’ll get back to that and the significance of it in a little bit.
First, here are some helpful links to the qualifying results and practice speeds from this weekend. Please note that in Practice #1 teams were mainly focused on qualifying trim, so I would completely throw that one out and only focus on Practices #2 and #3 from Saturday.
DraftKings Strategy Breakdown for Michigan 2
We have a lot to go over here, so I’m going to kind of break this down into categories to make it a little easier. First up: dominator points.
Fastest Laps at Michigan
As mentioned before, Joey Logano had just seven fastest laps when we were last here in June despite leading a race-high 163 laps. The reason for this is because drafting is now playing a huge factor in Michigan races. You can essentially think of these races as a smaller Daytona or Talladega when it comes to fastest laps, albeit a little more predictable. In all, 25 different drivers put up at least one fastest lap in the June Michigan race, with 17 of them putting up 5 or more fastest laps. Kevin Harvick led the way with 19 fastest laps followed by the Hendrick Motorsports teammates of Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman, who each had 12.
So what does this mean for Sunday’s slate? In my head, I’m shifting my focus quite a bit as I construct a lineup. Usually fastest laps are something I really try to pinpoint as a justification for high-dollar drivers. Instead, I’m taking this approach for Sunday’s race: focus on finishing position and place differential and the fastest laps will come. Which brings me to the next strategy point…
Laps Led at Michigan
Clean air is king at Michigan International Speedway, so pole sitter Brad Keselowski ($10,700) has a major advantage to start out the race simply because he was the fastest car on Friday. Looking at the last eight races at this track, the pole sitter has led an average of 91.4 per race and has an average finish of 5.3. Now, when we look at just the August races, those numbers dip down to 72 and 9.0 (respectively), but as you can tell, the guys starting 1st are consistently leading a significant chunk of the races at Michigan. Finish-wise, all pole sitters over the last eight races have finished inside the top 10, except for one: Brad Keselowski, who led 105 laps in the 2017 August race but had an awful restart late and finished 17th. That was a DraftKings slate that hurt, and I remember it well.
Getting back to this weekend, though, does that mean Brad Keselowski is a must-play in your lineup? I don’t particularly think so. The thing is, there’s a super fast Ford that qualified 2nd for Sunday’s Consumers Energy 400, and that is Kevin Harvick ($11,800), the guy who has nine top 5 finishes in the last thirteen Michigan races and is also the defending winner of this race. Harvick ranked inside the top 3 in ten-lap average during both practice sessions here on Saturday–showing speed during both, which is something that wasn’t common for many drivers–and his record here at Michigan speaks for itself. What it’s going to come down to is whether or not Harvick will be able to pass Kez on the track, which I think is going to be incredibly difficult with how Michigan runs and how this rules package works. So then you’re probably looking at a strategy call getting the #4 Ford out front, or his pit crew being fast enough to get him there, which, if you have any confidence in all in that pit crew, you must be a major Harvick fan.
For what it’s worth, I think Kevin Harvick has the best car heading into Sunday, and if he can get out front early, he can easily lead 100+ laps once again. I see the most laps led award going to either him or Keselowski, so I think one or the other has to be in your DraftKings lineup, but definitely not both.
The Chalk Plays
You know in South Park when Cartman always says, “God, I hate you Kyle?” That’s me, just with Austin Dillon ($7,100). If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I despise this guy, and that level of irritation grew just a little higher here on Friday after qualifying, as the two RCR cars–the other being Daniel Hemric ($6,400)–were busted using fake radiators and had their qualifying times disallowed, which means Austin will be scored from the 37th starting spot and Hemric will be scored from 38th. Chalk plays.
Now if you don’t know my playing style, I tend to be quite contrarian in DraftKings, which means I’m either going to lose big or win big. So when we have a situation like this, I tend to do the opposite of the crowd. Now obviously these two are going to be must-plays in cash games, as almost anyone with a brain will have them both in their lineup, but GPPs are where things get interesting.
I’ve never claimed to be great at ownership projections, but with Daniel Hemric’s salary, I see no reason why he won’t be over 50% owned in GPPs on Sunday. The same goes for Austin Dillon, although since he’s a little higher at $7,100, I could see him being in the high-40s. Now that’s a significant chunk of players that will have one, and probably both, in their lineup. So strategy-wise, I don’t mind looking for alternative (or “pivot”) plays off of Dillon and Hemric. Let’s just do the math here:
Let’s say Austin Dillon finishes 20th on Sunday, so he has 24 DraftKings points for his finish and 17 place differential points for a total of 41 DraftKings points. Let’s say Daniel Hemric finishes 24th, netting 20 points for his finish and 14 place differential points–a total of 34 DraftKings points.
Now what if, instead, you go with a guy like Chris Buescher ($7,300), who starts 25th and came home 16th the last time we raced at Michigan? That same result nets 37 DraftKings points this time around. Or what about Matt DiBenedetto ($6,600), who qualified 27th but could easily come home in the top 20. Let’s say he finished 20th. That’s 31 DraftKings points.
Now the key thing to remember here is that you’re playing the ownerships. Austin Dillon is in a slump that even a guy like Corey LaJoie laughs at, as the #3 Chevrolet has finished 31st or worse in four of the last five races overall. If that happens again, nearly half of the DraftKings field (approximately) is going to have a dud in their lineup. Daniel Hemric has been running well lately, but he’s still prone to very bad finishes; he’s ended up 30th or worse in over 25% of the races this year.
Would I recommend fully fading Austin Dillon and Daniel Hemric? Of course not. Do I like being underweight on both of them? Yes, absolutely. Am I a big proponent of only having one of the two on a GPP lineup, if at all? Absolutely. But that’s just me.
GPP Drivers I Love For Michigan 2
Denny Hamlin ($9,900) – Denny Hamlin’s DraftKings ownership percentage should be relatively low this weekend simply because of where he’s priced. You have Harvick and Keselowski up there at $11,800 and $10,700 who will garner plenty of attention due to their dominator possibilities, and then you have Joey Logano ($10,200) right above Hamlin, who is the most recent winner here at Michigan. With that being said, Denny is a great option this week. All of the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas seemed to focus mainly on race trim this weekend and didn’t qualify well, and Hamlin is going to officially be scored from 14th when the Consumers Energy 400 goes green. He’s a two-time winner here at Michigan and is also riding a streak of four straight top 5s heading into this weekend. Oh, and remember how I said drafting is going to be important on Sunday? Don’t forget that Denny won the Daytona 500 this year…
Kurt Busch ($8,900) – Here’s another guy that is going to be low-owned simply because of his salary. You have Erik Jones ($8,500) and Kyle Larson ($8,300) sitting there under Kurt Busch, both being great value plays and drivers that I’ll personally have plenty of exposure of. But from a strategy perspective, don’t forget about Kurt Busch. Chip Ganassi Racing has won three of the last six Michigan races, and don’t forget that Kurt snuck a win here back in 2015. He also has three straight top 6 finishes here at Michigan, and he wound up 6th at Fontana earlier this year as well (the sister track to Michigan). For what it’s worth, the Fantasy Racing Online algorithm loves Kurt Busch this weekend.
Bubba Wallace ($5,700) – Michigan isn’t the place where you want to dip down into the bucket too far, but I actually really like Bubba Wallace this weekend. he qualified 26th for Sunday’s Consumers Energy 400, but with that high of a qualifying spot (for him), that should keep his ownership percentage super low. As far as track history here, Bubba has three finishes between 19th and 23rd in his four career Cup Series starts at Michigan, and over the last five races this season, he’s finished between 15th and 23rd in four of them. Again, another pivot option off of those RCR cars, and this one comes with a major salary savings.
Michigan 2 Consumers Energy 400 DraftKings Projections
You can click the headers below to sort the chart by that attribute. By default it is sorted by average projected FPTS.
|Driver||Starting Position||DraftKings Salary||Avg Proj FPTS||Avg. Projected Finish||Proj Laps Led||Dollar Per FPT|
|Martin Truex Jr||15||$11,300||53.0||05.0||16||$213|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||18||$6,700||24.0||19.0||0||$279|