NASCAR Fantasy: Who's Hot, and Who's Not (Michigan Edition)

Ben BombergerSenior Writer IJune 10, 2009

BROOKLYN, MI - AUGUST 17: A general view of cars racing during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 3M Performance 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 17, 2008 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

This weekend, the boys head north to Michigan International Speedway, for the LifeLock 400.

MIS is a two-mile intermediate D-Shaped track, and is often referred to as one of NASCAR's many "cookie-cutter" tracks.

We all know what that means—Roush Fenway Ford's will rule supreme.

When setting your Fantasy roster for domination this weekend, here are a few drivers you may want on your team, and a few that you may not.


Who's Hot

Tony "Smoke" Stewart

Coming off his first win as an owner-driver, Smoke has (well) smoked the competition in recent weeks.

With Hendrick Motorsports equipment below him, Stewart is leading the points and entering his favorite time of the year—summer.

Smoke + summer + HMS equipment = bad news for the other 43 drivers.

Summer is Smoke's season, and is when things typically get on a role for the two-time champion.

This year, however, Smoke has hit his stride already, and could easily knock off a few wins between now and September, when the Chase starts.

At Michigan: Stewart visits the two-mile oval for the first time in a Chevy, but has one win, nine top fives, 13 top 10s, and an average finish of 12.5 at MIS.

In NASCAR's Loop Data, Stewart has an Average Running Position of 14.6 (10th-best), a Driver Rating of 94.5 (eighth-best), 52 Fastest Laps Run (11th-most), 570 Green Flag Passes (seventh-most), an Average Green Flag Speed of 173.455 MPH (sixth-fastest), and 1,024 Laps in the Top 15 (66.7 percent, seventh-most).


Carl "Flippin" Edwards

Edwards is still looking for his first win in 2009, and visits a track he won at last time the circuit visited it.

Last week, Edwards appeared to be smooth sailing his way to a win in Pocono, but a late surge by Stewart's pit crew got the No. 14 Chevy out first, which eventually led to Smoke's win.

Edwards' runner-up finish moved him up five spots in the championship standing to sixth, a much more comfortable spot than 11th.

Unfortunately, drivers can move back just as fast as they move forward, as was seen with Denny Hamlin's poor finish.

At Michigan: Edwards collected his second win at MIS last fall. He has recorded five top fives, eight top 10s, and an average finish of 6.6.

In NASCAR Loop Data, Edwards has an Average Running Position of 7.0 (series-best), a Driver Rating of 115.7 (series-best), 134 Fastest Laps Run (series-high), 565 Green Flag Passes (eighth-most), an Average Green Flag Speed of 174.229 MPH (series-best), 1,385 Laps in the Top 15 (90.2, series-high), and 410 Quality Passes (series-high).

In other words: Edwards could be the man to beat on Sunday.


Matt Kenseth

Kenseth started 2009 with a bang, winning the first two events of the season. Since then, however, he has managed only two more top fives, and four more top 10 finishes.

MIS could be the place where Kenseth (or any Roush Fenway driver for that matter) turns his season back around.

The past Sprint Cup Champion currently sits eighth in the championship standings, only 67 points ahead of 13th-place Mark Martin.

At Michigan: Kenseth has two wins, nine top fives, 13 top 10s, and an average finish of 9.1 at the two-mile oval.

According to NASCAR Loop Data, Kenseth has an Average Running Position of 11.5 (fifth-best), a Driver Rating of 106.4 (third-best), 76 Fastest Laps Run (sixth-most), 530 Green Flag Passes (11th-most), an Average Green Flag Speed of 173.932 MPH (fourth-fastest), 1,213 Laps in the Top 15 (79 percent, fourth-most), and 343 Quality Passes (fourth-most).


Any Other RFR Driver

Greg Biffle's stats include two wins, five top fives, seven top 10s, an average finish of 13.2, and an Average Running Position of 9.0 (second-best).

Jamie McMurray has collected one top five, four top 10s (three of which came in five starts in an RFR Ford), and an average finish of 18.5.

David Ragan has four starts at the two-mile track with one top five (a third-place finish last Aug.), and two top 10 finishes (an eighth-place finish in this race last year).


Dark Horse: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

If you are looking to take a chance with someone this weekend and gain some much needed points in your Fantasy League, Dale Earnhardt Jr. may be who you need on your roster.

Earnhardt Jr. may not be a popular pick right now as the team has struggled, but this team could turn it around at any moment.

The No. 88 AMP Energy Chevy visited Victory Lane last spring at MIS, and though it was on fuel-mileage, Earnhardt Jr. ran solid all day.

At Michigan: Earnhardt Jr. has one win, three top fives, six top 10s, two poles, and an average finish of 16.7 at the two-mile track in Michigan.

NASCAR's Loop Data shows that Earnhardt Jr. has an Average Running Position of 10.3 (fourth-best), a Driver Rating of 101.4 (fifth-best), 98 Fastest Laps Run (third-most), an Average Green Flag Speed of 173.728 MPH (fifth-fastest), 1,177 Laps in the Top 15 (76.7 percent, fifth-most), and 369 Quality Passes (third-most).


Who's Not

Now that you know who you do want on your Fantasy roster this weekend, here are a few drivers that you don't.


Kevin Harvick

Ol' Happy is anything but happy these days, as his backslide through the point standings continued with a poor finish at Pocono last weekend.

Harvick dropped two more places in the standings, to a season-low of 26th.

His 24th-place finish at Pocono extended his streak to 10 races without a top 10 finish. In fact, Harvick only has two for the year (fourth in Atlanta and second in Daytona).

At Michigan: Harvick has visited MIS 16 times, and has found little success at the two-mile venue.

Harvick has managed only six top 10s and two top fives, but has a respectable 15.2 average finish at MIS.


Denny Hamlin

Back-to-back finishes of 36th (Dover) and 38th (Pocono), have put the No. 11 FedEx Toyota in a bad spot—12th in points.

Hamlin is another driver that came into the season expecting to be competing for wins each week and the 2009 championship.

The season, however, has not been what the youngster was looking for.

Just over half-way through NASCAR's "regular season," Hamlin has three top fives and five top 10 finishes, and sits just one-point inside a Chase spot at 12th.

At Michigan: Hamlin only has six starts at MIS, but his most recent visit was his worst (a 37th-place finish last August).

At the track, Hamlin has one top five, two top 10s, and an average finish of 15.5.


Up Next: Infineon Raceway