1) Kyle Larson (Starting – 1st)
Michigan Fantasy Spin – Kyle Larson will be a favorite to win at Michigan. He’s the most recent winner at MIS and has won the last two races at tracks of this length. Auto Club Speedway is Michigan’s sister track and earlier this year at that venue he led 110 laps and raced his way to victory lane. In that race he started on the pole, on Sunday he’ll once again start first. Over the last three combined races at two-mile ovals he has a 1.7 average finish and the best driver rating. Throughout the season at intermediate tracks Larson’s been a super elite performer and there’s no doubt he’ll run well again. In practice Larson was quick. In Happy Hour he had the 3rd best overall speed and the best ten lap average. Look for Larson to finish in the top five and compete for the win.
Michigan Track History – Kyle Larson has run well at Michigan. In his career minus an August 2014 accident and a spring 2015 misleading result because of rain (made a pit stop and then rain fell) he has a 6.3 average finish. Last year at Michigan he ran extremely well and was arguably the best driver between the combined events. Last August he raced his way to victory lane, earned the best driver rating and led the most laps. During a late restart he took the lead from Chase Elliott and never looked back. In spring 2016 he was a consistent front runner. In the race he finished 3rd, earned the 3rd best driver rating and had a 4th place average running position.
Yahoo B Driver / DraftKings $10,200
2) Martin Truex Jr. (Starting – 2nd)
Michigan Fantasy Spin – Martin Truex Jr. will be tough to beat at Michigan. He has a fast car and he’s starting up front (2nd). This year at high-speed intermediate tracks he’s been the man to beat on a weekly basis. Over the six combined races on this track type he has a 4.2 average finish, a 3.8 average running position, the best driver rating, has led the most laps (609) and has run the most fastest laps. The two most similar intermediate tracks visited are Kansas and Auto Club. At Kansas he dominated en route to victory lane (led 104 laps) and at Auto Club he finished 4th (led 73 laps). At Michigan in recent races he’s run extremely well. In practice Truex never made any long runs but he does have a quick car. On Sunday look for Truex to compete for a top five and be a factor to win.
Michigan Track History – Martin Truex Jr. has been a successful performer at Michigan. Last August he had a great car but while he was leading his car got damaged during pit stops and after that it wasn’t as competitive and it led to him finishing 20th. In spring 2016 he also ran extremely well but his race wasn’t incident free. On lap 46 while he was running in 2nd racing side by side with Bowyer he spun. That got air under his hood and it buckled up, damaging his car. I’ll also note late in the race he lost quite a few positions. With 5 laps to go he lost 5 positions. When the checkered flag waved he finished 12th. In 2015 Truex Jr. finished 3rd both races.
Yahoo A Driver / DraftKings $10,000
Further Recommended Reading – Practice Notes/ Practice Speeds Center, Post Practice Predictions (another fantasy take), Speed Cheat Sheet, DraftKings Playability Value Chart, Likely Finish Ranges, Starting Lineup, DraftKings Start Page, Yahoo Start Page
3) Kevin Harvick (Starting – 11th)
Michigan Fantasy Spin – Kevin Harvick is a fantasy ace at Michigan. There’s probably no safer pick you can make than him. In 7 of the last 8 races at this 2.0 mile oval he’s finished in the top five. In the one race he didn’t finish in the top five he arguably had the best car but his race wasn’t incident free. This year at intermediate tracks Harvick has ran well. I consider Kansas a mini-Michigan and at that venue he finished 3rd earlier this season. Following his strong run at Pocono last week Harvick now feels that his team is back to form and that should scare the competition. In practice the #4 was fast. His ten lap averages in the two Saturday sessions ranked as the 3rd and 5th best. On Sunday look for Harvick to compete for a top five finish.
Michigan Track History – Kevin Harvick has been the epitome of consistency as you read above. Last year Harvick finished 5th both races. Last August in addition to finishing 5th he earned the 3rd best driver rating, had a 4th place average running position and led 33 laps. In spring 2016 when the “Lowest Down Force Package” made its debut he didn’t have a great car for much of the race but at the end he rallied to his 5th place result. In August 2015 when the “High Down Force” package was used he finished 2nd. In spring 2015 he likely had the best car but finished 29th after having a flat tire that led to his misleading result. Even with his problem he earned the 2nd best driver rating, led 63 laps and ran the most fastest laps. In the four Michigan races prior to that he finished runner-up.
Yahoo A Driver / DraftKings $9,900