Kevin Harvick – Kevin Harvick is a super-elite performer at high-speed intermediate tracks who’ll be tough to beat at Michigan. In 2018 on this track type minus Auto Club and Charlotte, he has 3 wins, a 2.1 average finish, a 3.6 average running position and has had a result in the top 5 every race. This spring at Michigan, Harvick finished 2nd but nobody was better than him. In the race he earned the best driver rating, had a 2nd place average running position, led a race high 49 laps, finished 4th in Stage #1 and won Stage #2. If it wasn’t for rain and Clint Bowyer doing a two-tire pit stop right at the end I think he would’ve won. 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. In spring 2017 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 the 8 Michigan races prior to that Harvick had 5 runner-up’s and 7 top fives. On Sunday look for Harvick to finish in the top five and be a serious threat to win.
Martin Truex Jr. – Martin Truex Jr. will be tough to beat at Michigan. He’s a premiere performer at 2.0 mile ovals who should be on your short list of favorites. Since 2017 at tracks of this length he has the best driver rating, the best average finish (6.2), is tied for the best average running position (6.0) and has led the most laps (317). At Michigan, Truex Jr. has never won, but he’s performed at an extremely high-level. He could’ve won both races last year and in 4 of the last 7 races he’s finished in the top six. This spring at Michigan, Truex Jr. had a tough race and finished 18th. He just never seemed to run well which was head scratching. Some might speculate it was from Michael Waltrip running into his car pre-race while being goofy. His average running position in the rain shortened event was 15th. 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 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.
Chase Elliott – Michigan has been a great track for Chase Elliott and on Sunday he should be counted on for a good finish. He’s fresh off his first win and he’s shown an uptick in performance in recent races. At Michigan, Elliott has thrived and it’s arguably his best track. He’s a perfect 5 for 5 in terms of finishing in the top ten and his average finish is 4.6. This spring at Michigan, Elliott had a good race. He finished 9th, earned the 10th best driver rating, had a 13th place average running position, finished 8th in Stage #1 and 10th in Stage #2. The race ended shortly after Stage #2 so his 10th for that segment is pretty reflective of his performance. Last August, he was a top five contender but finished 8th. If there wasn’t a late caution with 9 laps to go he was poised to finish in 3rd. In spring 2017 he had a strong showing and from the 10th place starting position he raced up to his runner-up result. Additionally, he earned the 5th best driver rating and had a 7th place average running position. Performance wise he was probably right around 4th place good. In 2016, Elliott finished runner-up in both races. This year at high-speed intermediate tracks Elliott has typically been about a 9th to 13th place driver. On Sunday I would look for Chase Elliott to compete for a top five.