Kevin Harvick – Kevin Harvick is the king of intermediate tracks and at Michigan he’ll be tough to beat. Michigan has been a great track for him and on Sunday I would look for him to finish in the top five and compete for the win. Over the last ten Michigan races he has 5 runner-up finishes and 7 top fives. Last August he was a top five contender but finished a misleading 13th after using inferior pit strategy in the final third of the race. Prior to the last portion of the race he finished 2nd in Stage #1 and 3rd in Stage #2. Last spring when the checkered flag waved he finished 14th, had an 11th place average running position and earned the 9th best driver rating. I will note with 11 laps to go he was running in 8th, but with 10 laps to go he got some minor damage in a multi-car wreck. In 2016 at MIS he finished 5th both races. In August 2016 he was a consistent front runner. 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 it’s debut he didn’t have a great car but finished 5th when the checkered flag waved. In August 2015 when the highest down force package was used he finished 2nd. In spring 2015 he had the best car and led 63 laps, but had a flat tire that led to his 29th place finish. In the four Michigan races prior to that he finished runner-up. At Auto Club Speedway earlier this year Kevin Harvick looked very strong and was likely going to be a factor to win but wrecked.
Kyle Larson – Kyle Larson is the king of two mile ovals and he’ll be a favorite to win on Sunday. He’s won the last three Michigan races, and over the last six races at tracks of this length his average finish is 1.5 and he’s finished in the top 3 every race. Additionally over those six races he has the best driver rating by a wide margin and has a 5.0 average running position. Last August at Michigan he didn’t have the best car, but he took advantage of the Green White Checkered restart and shot from 4th to 1st before turn one. If that late caution didn’t come out he was poised to finish around 7th. From the race it should be noted he had a 9th place average running position, finished 9th in Stage #1 and 8th in Stage #2. Last spring at Michigan he had a good car that was top five good but I would stop short of saying it was the best. He needed a late caution to pass Kyle Busch to take the lead. In addition to finishing 1st Larson earned the best driver rating, had a 3rd place average running position and led 96 laps. In 2016 Larson had results of 1st and 3rd. Auto Club Speedway is a similar two mile oval and earlier this year at that venue Larson had a strong showing and finished 2nd. In 2017 at that venue he raced his way to victory lane.
Martin Truex Jr. – Martin Truex Jr. will be tough to beat at Michigan. Since 2017 at two-mile ovals he has the best driver rating, the best average running position (3.8), has led the most laps (317) and has the 2nd best average finish (3.3). Earlier this year at Auto Club Speedway, a similar 2.0 mile he put on a display of domination. He finished 1st, won the first two Stages, led 125 laps and had a 11.7 second margin of victory. Nobody had anything for him. At Michigan, Truex Jr. has performed at an extremely high-level. In 4 of the last 6 races he’s finished in the top six. Last year at MIS, Larson won both races but Truex Jr. was arguably the best performer. Last August, Truex Jr. had the race won but a late caution which setup a Green-White-Checker restart cost him the race. When the checkered flag waved he finished 2nd, earned the best driver rating and led 57 laps. Additionally he finished 4th in Stage #1 and won Stage #2. Last spring, Truex Jr. had a strong showing. He won Stage #1 and Stage #2. When the checkered flag waved he finished 6th, earned the 2nd best driver rating, had a 4th place average running position, led 62 laps and ran the most fastest laps (50). In August 2016 he had a good car but finished a misleading 20th after having some major problems on pit road that damaged his car. In spring 2016 he had a great car but finished a misleading 12th. Performance wise he likely had one of the best cars but his race wasn’t incident free. On lap 46 while he was running in 2nd, racing side by side with Bowyer he spun. In 2015 he finished 3rd both races. On Sunday look for Truex Jr. to finish in the top five and compete for the win.