The second and final stop at Michigan International Speedway is this weekend, and we’re officially getting into crunch times for some of these teams on the playoff bubble. The good news for Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth–who both need wins, Logano more than Kenseth– is that they qualified 2nd and 4th (respectively) this weekend, and starting position means quite a bit at this track. In fact, over 80% of Michigan winners have started from the top 5. Additionally, three of the last four races here have been won from the pole, as well as four of the last six. The only exceptions during that span were the rain-shortened June race in 2015 and this race last year, where Kyle Larson won after starting 12th.
We got back to a ‘normal’ schedule at Michigan this weekend, with practice and qualifying on Friday and then two practice sessions on Saturday. Hometown driver Brad Keselowski is on the pole this weekend and the full starting lineup can be found by clicking here. The practice speeds from those two sessions on Saturday can be found here: Practice #2 — Happy Hour, and, as always, our in-depth practice notes can be found here: Practice #2 — Happy Hour.
Final Top 25 Ranking For The Pure Michigan 400
1. Brad Keselowski – Starts 1st – DraftKings Price: $9,400 – Yahoo! A Group
**Risk Factor: Low Risk**
Michigan International Speedway is Brad Keselowski’s home track, and he’s dying for a win here. In sixteen career starts at this track, Brad has posted one 2nd-place finish and three 3rd-place finishes, including one in this race last season. However, Keselowski has yet to really be a contender at MIS, with the most laps he’s led here in a single race being just 17. That’s probably going to change on Sunday, though. The #2 Ford is on the pole for this weekend’s Pure Michigan 400–Keselowski’s first at this track–and was fast in both practice sessions on Saturday, posting the 2nd-fastest lap in Practice #2 while winding up fastest in Happy Hour. Pole sitters have a distinct advantage here at Michigan–as they have won three of the last four races at this track–and that edge only strengthens with this low downforce package. Unless the #2 pit crew messes up during a stop on Sunday, you can expect Keselowski to be out front for a lot of the race, and possibly even end up in victory lane.
2. Martin Truex, Jr. – Starts 13th – DraftKings Price: $10,600 – Yahoo! A Group
**Risk Factor: Low-to-Medium Risk**
For just the second time this season, Martin Truex, Jr. is starting outside of the top 10 here on Sunday (excluding restrictor plate tracks). The #78 Toyota wound up 13th on Friday, which was surprising because it was 4th-fastest in the opening practice session this weekend. Am I concerned, though? Absolutely not. Track position means a lot here at Michigan International Speedway, but it’s not impossible to get to the front: Truex is going to have to make up ground on restarts Sunday and his pit crew is going to have to be flawless. The #78 Toyota has ended up 6th or better in three of the last five Michigan races and should be at least top 10 good here on Sunday. Truex was 10th-fastest in Practice #2 on Saturday and ranked 2nd in Happy Hour.
3. Ryan Blaney – Starts 12th – DraftKings Price: $8,700 – Yahoo! B Group
**Risk Factor: Medium Risk**
There’s a lot to like about Ryan Blaney this weekend, but at the same time there’s a whole lot to dislike as well. Let’s start with the good. First, the #21 Ford might have the most speed in the garage this weekend. Blaney was over two tenths faster than 2nd-fastest Kyle Busch in the opening practice session of the weekend, and probably would have won the pole on Friday as well if he didn’t mess up his final lap. As far as Saturday’s practices go, the #21 Ford was 4th-fastest in both Practice #2 and in Happy Hour. Based on pure speed alone, Blaney definitely has a top 5 car this weekend. Now for the bad. Momentum-wise, this #21 team is struggling, with just three top 10s in the last eight races and no result better than 8th. Additionally, Blaney’s history here at Michigan isn’t great: he finished 4th in this race one year ago but has results of 17th, 24th, 24th, and 25th in his four other starts. I’m cautiously optimistic for Ryan this weekend, and if he gets track position late, I honestly think he can win.