We’re off to the Irish Hills of Michigan this weekend for back-to-back races on Saturday and Sunday. This post will be covering the Saturday race. Once that is completed, the top 20 will be inverted for the starting top 20 in Sunday’s race, and then the rest of the field will start where they finished on Saturday. I will put out my new rankings for Sunday soon after Saturday’s race is complete. Both of these races are shorter than normal, as the teams will have to use the same car for both. The two races are scheduled for 312 miles (156 laps) each.
As far as similar tracks, Fontana (Auto Club) is the sister track to Michigan. We raced there earlier this year and Alex Bowman and Ryan Blaney were heads and shoulders above everyone else. Other tracks I’d throw into the mix are Kentucky, Texas, and Kansas, and for this reason: Goodyear is bringing the exact same tire combination from Kentucky and Texas to Michigan this week, and also running the same right sides from Kansas. Add those races with overall speed this season and you should get a very good idea of who will be fast on Saturday. Joey Logano is on the pole for this first race and you can click here for the full starting lineup for Michigan on Saturday.
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Final Top 25 Fantasy NASCAR Rankings for the FireKeepers Casino 400
1. Kevin Harvick – Starts 3rd – DraftKings Price: $11,000 – FanDuel Price: $14,000 – Slingshot Price: $13,000
There’s no reason that Kevin Harvick shouldn’t be at or near the top of everyone’s board for Saturday’s race at Michigan. He’s the most recent winner here and has also won two of the last three. Additionally, he’s finished 1st or 2nd in eight of the last 14 races at this track, and came home 5th or better in ten of the last 14 here. At the aforementioned similar tracks this year, Harvick has a series-best average finish of 5.5, with the only result outside of the top 5 being his 9th at Fontana. Green Flag Speed is a good indicator to look at this weekend as well and Harvick has taken that #1 spot from Chase Elliott this season. He also ranks 3rd in that category over the last six races.
2. Denny Hamlin – Starts 2nd – DraftKings Price: $10,400 – FanDuel Price: $13,500 – Slingshot Price: $12,400
This season, Denny Hamlin has just one finish between 6th and 10th, and ironically it was at Auto Club Speedway (the sister track to Michigan) back in March. He finished 6th in that race. But that should tell you what kind of season Dennis is having: only one driver has more top 5s than Hamlin, and it’s Harvick. He has 13 while Denny has 11. Looking at the Michigan weekend ahead, there’s no reason why Hamlin shouldn’t contend for a good finish. He came home 2nd here last August and has four finishes of 9th or better in the last seven races in the Irish Hills. My only main concern here with Hamlin is the fact that at the similar tracks this year he’s averaging a driver rating of just 96.1, and his only real “good” race came at Kansas, which was a night race. Just something to consider if you want to go against the grain and not pick one of the best drivers this year. For what it’s worth, my algorithm has Hamlin ranked 2nd this week behind Harvick.
3. Brad Keselowski – Starts 5th – DraftKings Price: $10,100 – FanDuel Price: $12,200 – Slingshot Price: $12,000
Good thing Brad Keselowski didn’t draw the pole for this Saturday’s race because his record here when starting 1st isn’t great. He’s led a bunch of laps, don’t get me wrong, but the finish is what really matters; in the two races Kez has started on the pole at Michigan, he’s led 105 and 66 laps but ultimately ended up 17th and 19th when the checkered flag waved. I remember those days well because my DraftKings winnings went down just as quickly as BK did. But anyway, Keselowski is usually solid at his home track, although he’s never won here. In the last 12 Michigan races, Kez has nine results of 9th or better and no finish worse than 19th. At Fontana, he’s ended up inside the top 5 in five of the last six. Finally, at the similar tracks I’ve mentioned, Kez has an average finish of 6.3 this season (which is 2nd-best) and an average driver rating of 101.8, which is 4th-best. There’s no reason why the #2 Ford shouldn’t challenge for a top 5 on Saturday.