It’s looking to be a very interesting race in the Irish Hills of Michigan on Sunday, as Goodyear brought a new tire to the track this weekend, which is throwing some guys–particularly Kyle Larson–through a loop. On top of that, the Cup Series teams were only able to get one practice session in on Saturday due to rain, and there’s a 40% chance of rain on Sunday as well. The good news is we have some on-track data to refer to this weekend, as Fontana is the sister track to Michigan and we raced out there back in March. Martin Truex, Jr. went to victory lane that day from the pole with Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch rounding out the top 3.
Stewart-Haas is on the pole yet again this weekend, although this time it’s Kurt Busch that will lead the field to the green on Sunday. Brad Keselowski will start alongside him, and the full starting lineup for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 can be found by clicking here. As far as the lone practice session on Saturday, you can see those speeds here: Practice #2. And I’d highly recommend you read our in-depth notes from that session as well, simply because there isn’t a lot of speed data. You can do so here: Practice #2.
Final Top 25 Rankings for Michigan
1. Kevin Harvick – Starts 4th – DraftKings Price: $12,000 – FanDuel Price: $12,500
**Risk Factor: Low Risk**
The question isn’t if Kevin Harvick is going to lead in the FireKeepers Casino 400 on Sunday, it’s how much. We didn’t get a chance to see how strong this #4 Ford was at Fontana earlier this year since Harvick wrecked out early, but he did start 10th in that race and got up into the top 5 quite easily before his day ended. As far as Michigan International Speedway goes, “Happy” has finished 2nd in five of the last ten races here and also has a couple of additional 5th-place finishes to his credit here in 2016. It’s safe to say that him and Rodney Childers are now on another level with the cars, so it’s entirely possible that Harvick absolutely dominates this race on Sunday (big surprise, huh?). The #4 Ford was fastest in the practice session on Saturday morning and also had the best ten-lap average. Harvick’s the guy to beat yet again on Sunday.
2. Martin Truex, Jr. – Starts 17th – DraftKings Price: $10,700 – FanDuel Price: $12,000
**Risk Factor: Low Risk**
I had Martin Truex, Jr. ranked P1 coming into the FireKeepers Casino 400 race weekend, and I’m still pretty confident that he can win on Sunday. However, he has a few disadvantages that Kevin Harvick doesn’t, so I have to put him P2. First, Truex is going to start from back in 17th on Sunday, which isn’t a huge deal but obviously increases the chances of him getting into a wreck in traffic and also gives him a worse pit stall. However, Truex started back in 13th here at Michigan last August and would have went to victory lane if it wasn’t for that late caution. He ended up finishing 2nd. What I really like most about this #78 Toyota this weekend, though, is just how dominant it was at Fontana earlier this year–the sister track to Michigan. Practice speed-wise, Truex was 6th-fastest during the session on Saturday although he didn’t make a long run. That’s not overly concerning, though. Martin has never won here at Michigan but he has ended up 3rd or better in six of his twenty-four starts here (25%). He’ll be a contender before it’s all said and done on Sunday.
3. Kyle Busch – Starts 3rd – DraftKings Price: $11,600 – FanDuel Price: $11,600
**Risk Factor: Medium Risk**
It’s been a while since Kyle Busch has gotten a top 5 finish at Michigan International Speedway…ten races to be exact. Yep, the last time Rowdy ended up inside the top 5 here in the Irish Hills was way back in 2013, although he’s had some great cars since then–just hasn’t had the luck. In the two Michigan races last season, Kyle led a combined 54 laps but ended up with 7th- and 10th-place finishes. Should this excessively long bad luck streak keep you from picking him in Fantasy NASCAR, though? Absolutely not. Kyle showed at Fontana earlier this year that this #18 Toyota can run up front on the 2-mile race tracks (he led 62 laps and had an average running position of 2nd), and Busch should be able to stay up front here at Michigan on Sunday as well. As far as leading a significant amount of laps, though? It’s hard to see that happening without Kevin Harvick or the #4 team making a mistake. Busch was 7th-fastest in practice on Saturday and had the 2nd-best ten-lap average.