The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to Michigan International Speedway for the Quicken Loans 400 this Sunday.
Michigan is one of NASCAR’s fastest racetracks and the wide corners allow for passing. With the new surface and the speed the Gen-6 car has produced this year, the track record will easily be broken this week. The current record was set by Marcos Ambrose last year with a speed of 203.241 mph.
Fuel mileage usually comes into play at Michigan. That could mean drivers who dominate the race may not finish up front. Fuel mileage races tend to kill fantasy NASCAR teams.
This week, I decided to change the format for my fantasy picks. I have received a lot of feedback asking me to provide picks for all forms of fantasy NASCAR, instead of just the Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing game. I decided to provide my top 30 picks for this week’s race and my selections for my teams at the end.
Here is my top 30 and stats from the NASCAR Media Center based upon the driver’s career statistics at Michigan….
Racing for the Win
1. Jimmie Johnson dominated the race at Pocono. He should be going for his third straight win if he would not have been penalized for jumping the restart at Dover. Can Johnson dominate another race this week? Yes he can!
2. Matt Kenseth has been the driver to beat on the intermediate racetracks. In the last four races at Michigan, Kenseth has an average starting position of 3.8 and an average finishing position of No. 8. He has been fast all season and will be on Sunday.
3. Carl Edwards has two wins at Michigan in his career. He also has the third-highest driver’s rating and the second-best average running position at Michigan. Edwards has a good chance to get his second win of the season this week.
4. Greg Biffle is the king of the two-mile racetracks. He won the last race at Michigan and finished fourth in the June race. Biffle will score his second top-five finish of the season this week.
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. snapped his 143-race winless streak at Michigan last year. He always runs fast here and should be good for a top-five finish this week.
6. Kyle Busch won the only other race this season at a two-mile racetrack. In that race, Busch raced all of his laps in the top 15 and led 125 of the 200 laps. Do not be surprised to see Busch dominate this race the way he dominated at Auto Club Speedway.
7. Denny Hamlin needs wins to make the Chase, and this will be a good opportunity for him. He won the pole for both races at Michigan last year and starting up front will be the key to finishing up front on Sunday.
8. Clint Bowyer has the highest driver’s rating for the last four races at Michigan. He finished in seventh place in both races at Michigan last year and finished in eighth place in both races in 2011. Bowyer will finish inside the top 10 again this week.
9. Kasey Kahne is a hard driver to predict. He often shows up at the racetrack with a fast car, but bad luck always seems to find him. He started both races last year in the top five and finished the first race No. 33 and the second race No. 3. He will finish inside the top 10 this week.
10. Tony Stewart is starting to heat up. He won the race at Dover and finished in the top five at Pocono. Stewart will keep his streak alive of top-10 finishes this week at Michigan.
Who will win the Quicken Loans 400?
11. Brad Keselowski struggled this year, but races at Michigan usually come down to fuel mileage. That plays right into the hands of Keselowski and his Crew Chief Paul Wolfe.
12. Kevin Harvick has quietly won two races this season. He will run well on Sunday, but just miss out on a top-10 finish.
13. Kurt Busch needs to be taken seriously. He has finished inside the top 15 in six of the last seven races. He will easily finish inside the top 15 again this week.
14. Jeff Gordon has two wins at Michigan, but his last win was in 2001. Gordon just missed a top-10 finish at Auto Club Speedway when he finished No. 11. He will run around the No. 10 spot this week, but end up just inside the top 15.
15. Joey Logano finished third at the other race at a 2-mile racetrack this year. He may qualify up front, but will only finish inside the top 15.
16. Ryan Newman gambled last week at Pocono and it paid off. He had his second top-five finish of the season. Stewart Haas Racing is improving, but not enough for Newman to finish inside the top 10.
17. Aric Almirola is the driver who won’t go away. He is a top 20 machine. He finished No. 14 at Auto Club Speedway and should have a similar race this week. Almirola will post another top-20 finish this week.
18. Martin Truex Jr. was up to No. 9 in the point standings, but after a No. 38 finish at Dover and a No. 23 finish at Pocono, Truex fell to No. 17. Truex will only be average this week at Michigan.
19. Paul Menard had a great start to the season, but he is starting to struggle. Menard performs best on the 1.5-mile cookie-cutter racetracks. This is not one of them.
20. Mark Martin is finally starting to show his age. Even at the racetracks where he is always very good at, he can only post a top-20 finish. Martin usually runs well at Michigan, but not this year.
Trying to Stay on Lead Lap
21. Jamie McMurray has not had a lot of success at Michigan, but the Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing cars have run well lately.
22. Juan Pablo Montoya is still looking for his first win on an oval racetrack. It won’t come this week at Michigan.
23. Ricky Stenhouse has run well in his rookie season. He will finish near the top 20 again on Sunday.
24. Trevor Bayne has run well on the 1.5-mile racetracks. He competed in four races in the Sprint Cup Series at Michigan and finished three in the top 25. His only finish outside of the top 25 came as a result of engine failure.
25. Jeff Burton is not the driver he used to be. A top-25 finish is about all you can expect out of him this week at Michigan.
26. Casey Mears could be considered one of the surprise drivers of the 2013 season. Last year the No. 13 team was a start and park team, and now they constantly finish inside the top 25.
27. Marcos Ambrose is already looking ahead to next week’s race at Sonoma. Wait a week for Ambrose.
28. A.J. Allmendinger will take over the driver duties for Bobby Labonte this week in the No. 47 car. Fantasy players may have high expectations for him this week, but do not expect anything more than a top-25 finish.
29. Danica Patrick has the car but not the talent to finish inside the top 25 this week.
30. David Ragan is not driving for Roush-Fenway Racing anymore. Do not expect much from him this week.
Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing Picks
Group A: Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson
Group B: Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch
Group C: Ricky Stenhouse, Trevor Bayne
Fantasy Live Picks
Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch, Austin Dillon
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
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