Michigan International Speedway is the site of this weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, as we’re scheduled to make 200 laps around this 2-mile track for the FireKeepers Casino 400 on Sunday. “Scheduled” is the key word there because there is some rain in the forecast, and don’t forget that this race last year was called after just 133 laps due to rain showers. At Michigan, clean air is king, and restarts are everything. This means that starting position can mean a lot, and it’s going to be hard to pass. In other words, going with a “finish points + Stage points” strategy in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest definitely isn’t a bad idea this week.
Click here for the starting lineup for this weekend’s race at Michigan. Also if you’d like to analyze the results from Friday’s first practice, you can do so by clicking here. For speeds from the second practice (Happy Hour), click here.
*Please note: the picks and suggestions below are my opinions and strategy for the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. These are not meant to sway your thinking in any way, but rather give you insight into the drivers I am most likely to pick on Sunday.*
Slingshot Fantasy Auto Picks for Michigan
Kyle Busch ($13,000) – Restarts are huge at Michigan International Speedway, and there’s no driver that is better (or more aggressive) during restarts than Kyle Busch. The #18 Toyota will roll off the grid from 15th when the FireKeepers Casino 400 gets going on Sunday afternoon, but honestly there’s no reason to think that Kyle Busch doesn’t have a car capable of finishing top 5 by the end of the day. Hell, he’ll probably get some Stage points along the way, too. Rowdy was 5th-best in 15-lap average during Happy Hour on Saturday and had top 5 overall speed as well. As mentioned before, he dominated Fontana earlier this year and also swept the top 5 here at Michigan last season as well. Rowdy is the only driver averaging over 100 Slingshot points per race this season, and he’s at 116.2. I could actually see that average going up after Sunday.
Kevin Harvick ($11,500) – I debated for quite a while about putting Chase Elliott ($12,600) in this spot because he qualified back in 17th and has been a top 5 machine as of late. However, I think Kevin Harvick has a really, really good race car this weekend, and all of the Stewart-Haas Racing teams will be giving that “little extra” on Sunday in honor of their team member that passed away earlier this week. So, honestly, I think Harvick gets to victory lane on Sunday for the first time in 2019. “Happy” is a two-time winner at Michigan International Speedway and has finished 2nd or better in seven of the last twelve races at this track–including both events last year. Looking at practice speeds, the #4 is as good as anyone this weekend. Don’t be surprised if Harvick has 15-20 Stage points on Sunday.
Kyle Larson ($10,700) – Again, restarts are key here at Michigan, and who’s great at restarts? Kyle Larson. Who has three wins here at Michigan? Kyle Larson. And on the other side of the coin, who is an extremely risky Fantasy NASCAR pick because he seems to wreck every other race? Kyle Larson. The driver of the #42 Chevrolet is a bargain at $10,700 this weekend, and he’s going to be pretty high-owned because of his 22nd-place starting spot, but I’m alright with eating the chalk in this spot. Larson had top 10 speed in practice here on Friday and ran 12th at Fontana earlier this year.
Chris Buescher ($7,700) – One of the most valuable Fantasy NASCAR drivers in place differential leagues qualified 31st for this weekend’s race at Michigan and…. yep, lock. This #37 team is probably one of the most impressive in the garage area right now, and even with the poor starting spot, I think Buescher has the speed in his Chevrolet to get inside the top 20 on race day. In the last three Michigan races, he’s finished 20th, 24th, and 6th, and at Fontana earlier this year, Buescher came home 16th. Sometimes drivers just miss it in qualifying and unfortunately for the #37 team, that seems to be the case this weekend.
Matt DiBenedetto ($6,000) – Matt DiBendetto is another driver who didn’t have a very good qualifying effort on Saturday, and he’ll start one row ahead of Buescher in 29th–which is actually Matt’s worth starting position of the year. We all know how important place differential fantasy points are in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest, though, and at just $6,000 in salary, DiBenedetto gives you plenty of wiggle room with the high-scoring drivers up top. Speed-wise, I though the #95 Toyota was top 25 good this weekend, and DiBenedetto came home 18th at Fontana earlier this year. This team is also coming off of a strong 17th-place showing at Pocono last week. You could definitely do worse in this price range!