Fantasy NASCAR at Michigan 2014: Picks, Top Drivers for Pure Michigan 400
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Brooklyn, Michigan, this week for the Pure Michigan 400.
Kevin Harvick won the pole for the June race at Michigan. He led the most laps (63 of the 200) and finished second. Jeff Gordon and Joey Logano also had great races, with Gordon leading 36 Laps and Logano 29 Laps. Jimmie Johnson ended up with the best race, though, as he drove the No. 48 Chevy to Victory Lane for the first time at Michigan. Johnson started the race in the seventh spot and led 39 Laps.
Michigan is one of the fastest race tracks on the circuit. Horsepower will determine the race winner this week. The only teams to consistently bring fast race cars to each track are the drivers from Team Penske and the drivers using Hendrick Motorsports engines. The drivers from these organizations will be the drivers to watch Sunday.
Fuel mileage will also be important at Michigan. The tires did not wear out in the last race, so teams will have the option of taking two tires without losing much track position. Teams that do take two tires may gain track position but lose out on a full tank of fuel. There will be many different strategies played out in the race Sunday. Teams with a savvy crew chief will have the advantage.
Here are my picks for the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan.
Yahoo Group A Picks
Group A in Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing is loaded with drivers who have had success at Michigan. It will be hard to go wrong with any of the choices in this group. Some of the drivers are more appealing than the others, however.
The obvious pick this week is Johnson, who won the race at Michigan only two months ago. The No. 48 team seems to be in testing mode for the Chase. Johnson is not a good fantasy pick in the month of August. His best finish in this month last year was a 28th-place run at Atlanta. Johnson will be a much better pick once the Chase begins.
Two drivers to watch this week are Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth. Earnhardt is having a career season, and Michigan is one of his best race tracks. Kenseth is high enough in the points standings that he should not need a win to make the Chase. He may be racing for points this week instead of taking a risk for a victory.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group A, with the number of allocations I have left with each driver in parentheses.
Jeff Gordon (4)
Gordon has been too good at the intermediate race tracks this year to keep off your team. He ran well in the last race at Michigan, qualifying on the front row and finishing sixth. Gordon has a series-best average finishing position this season on the intermediate race tracks. He should be on every fantasy team this week.
Kevin Harvick (4)
Harvick had the best driver rating and scored the most points in Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing in the last race at Michigan. He has finished second in the last three races at Michigan and will have a good chance to win the pole and the race Sunday.
Other good choices: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch
Yahoo Group B Picks
Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano will be the popular picks in Group B this week. Both drivers will qualify up front and have a great chance at winning the race. Fantasy teams must figure out the other two drivers to pair with Team Penske this week. That will not be an easy question to answer.
Here are the four drivers I selected for Group B.
Brad Keselowski (2)
If you have any allocations left with Keselowski, you need to have him on your team this week. Even if you do not want to use one of your last starts with him, he is a great pick to score bonus points for qualifying up front. Keselowski may score the most points in Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing this week. His stats on the intermediate race tracks are great, and he finished third in this race in June.
Joey Logano (5)
Logano is in the same category as his teammate, Keselowski. If you have any starts with him left on your team, you need to use Logano for the race at Michigan. He is almost a lock to qualify up front, and his history at this race track is very good. Logano started on the pole and led 51 laps on his way to Victory Lane in this race last season. He is even better this year—and that is scary.
Ryan Newman (2)
Newman does not have the stats at Michigan to compete with the drivers from Team Penske, but he will be a good pick for fantasy teams this week. He seems to be getting comfortable with his new team, as he's finished four of the last six races in the top 11. Newman is a good pick for a top-10 finish Sunday.
Jamie McMurray (9)
Jamie McMurray gets the last spot on the team this week. He may be the most underrated driver in fantasy NASCAR this season. He started No. 11 and finished No. 12 while leading four laps in the June race at Michigan—and McMurray could perform better than that this week. He would be a good driver to have on your team and see how he performs in the practice sessions.
Other good choices: Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin and Paul Menard
Yahoo Group C Picks
This could be a good week to save Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon for another race track. Group C is much deeper this week than it looks to be on paper. Danica Patrick and Justin Allgaier finished the last race inside the top 20. Meanwhile, Michael Annett is a great sleeper pick. He started No. 37 and finished No. 21 in the last race at Michigan.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group C.
Kyle Larson (2)
Larson is only on the team for qualifying points. He will be the best driver in Group C, but I will need him at Bristol and for qualifying points the rest of the season. If your team has multiple allocations left with Larson, you must start him this week. If your team is in the same position as mine, find a driver you think you could use in the race to pair with Larson.
Danica Patrick (7)
Michigan is one of Patrick’s best race tracks. She finished No. 17 in the last race here and has never finished worse than No. 23. She will have a fast car and could qualify up front. There is not much risk in using her this week—a statement that cannot be made often about Patrick.
Other Good Choices: Austin Dillon, Trevor Bayne and Justin Allgaier
Fantasy Live Picks
Fantasy Live Picks: Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski, Michael Annett, Reed Sorenson
The advice for Fantasy Live is to select drivers who start in the back of the field with a good chance to move to the front. Gordon and Keselowski will have a good chance to win the pole and lead many laps in the race. Earnhardt, Annett and Reed Sorenson have a good chance of starting further back in the field and finishing much higher than where they start the race.
Building your team with a balance of drivers who could lead many laps and drivers who improve their track position will score the most points Sunday.
Fox Fantasy Racing
It is hard to predict a team for Fox Fantasy Racing without knowing the starting position of each driver. The game rewards teams for having drivers who start in the back of the pack and finish up front. After qualifying Saturday, look at the starting lineup for the race. If any of the big-name drivers qualify poorly, make sure they are on your team.
Below are my selections for Fox Fantasy Racing for the race at Michigan.
Captain: Jeff Gordon
Driver 2: Matt Kenseth
Driver 3: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Driver 4: Kasey Kahne
Driver 5: Kyle Larson