This article is part of our DFS NASCAR series.
FireKeepers Casino 400
Location: Brooklyn, Mich.
Course: Michigan International Speedway
Format: 2.0-mile D-shaped oval
NASCAR gets back to oval racing this week at Michigan International Speedway in the first of two remaining regular-season races before the championship playoffs commence. AJ Allmendinger snuck into Victory Lane last week at Indianapolis after a chaotic race. That victory did little to change the playoff picture, as Allmendinger is a full-time Xfinity Series competitor and not eligible for Cup's championship battle. Tyler Reddick and Austin Dillon continued their intramural battle for the 16th and final spot in that fight, shadowing one another throughout last week's race, with Reddick stretching his point gap over Dillon to 28 points. While Denny Hamlin lost another chance to win after contact with Chase Briscoe on the penultimate lap, he did walk away from the weekend having clinched his playoff spot on points alone. Drivers will want to do all they can to clinch the remaining playoff positions this week before having to race their way into the battle two weeks from now at unpredictable Daytona.
Key Stats at Michigan International Speedway
- Number of races: 103
- Winners from pole: 21
- Winners from top-5 starters: 61
- Winners from top-10 starters: 77
- Winners from 21st or lower starters: 7
- Fastest race: 173.997 mph
Previous 10 Michigan Winners
2020 II _ Kevin Harvick
2020 I - Kevin Harvick
2019 fall - Kevin Harvick
2019 spring - Joey Logano
2018 fall - Kevin Harvick
2018 spring - Clint Bowyer
2017 fall - Kyle Larson
2017 spring - Kyle Larson
2016 fall - Kyle Larson
2016 spring - Joey Logano
Michigan International Speedway features just once on the Cup Series calendar this season versus the double-header race weekend it hosted in last year's altered schedule. The track favors cars with high horsepower and offers teams opportunities to move forward through strategy. While drivers may have a preferred line around the 2.0-mile oval based on their handling, the track is wide enough to move around as that handling changes throughout fuel runs. That characteristic also enables plenty of passing, which creates exciTrent throughout the field as teams hone their machines. Pitting under green is less of a penalty than at some of the shorter circuits, too. That feature could come into play as drivers sacrifice stage finishes to maximize their chances for the race win by gaining track position by not pitting during stage breaks. As always, late caution periods could quickly jumble the running order and give anyone in contention a chance to earn a victory.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
DraftKings Tier 1 Values
DraftKings Tier 2 Values
DraftKings Tier 3 Values
DraftKings Long-Shot Values
MY PICKS THIS WEEK
Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)
Despite not winning last week, Kyle Larson (DK $11,500, FD $14,500) remains the hottest driver in the series. Michigan has also been a great venue for him. He has three prior wins at the track and will start from pole this time, too. Brad Keselowski (DK $9,800, FD $10,300) has spoken frequently about his desire to win at Michigan, his home race. He will have to overcome a tough starting position Sunday (20th), but does have 12 top-10s from 23 track starts, including a runner-up finish last season. Like Larson, Kurt Busch (DK $8,500, FD $9,000) also has three prior Michigan victories. The last of those was in 2015, but he finished 10th in both races last season. Tyler Reddick (DK $7,400, FD $8,500) is embroiled in a cut-line battle with his teammate for the final playoff position available. A win for either driver this week would get them in, but both are likely to be racing for as many points as possible. Reddick's best finish at the track last season was 18th. Chris Buescher (DK $6,500, FD $5,700) could make an intriguing selection this week. He lines up 11th, which is one of his best starts since he was on pole in the second Pocono race and hasn't finished outside of the top 20 at Michigan since 2018. Rounding out this lineup option is Erik Jones (DK $6,200, FD $4,500). He has five top-15 finishes from his eight series starts there and is coming off of his third top-10 finish of the season last week at Indianapolis.
Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)
Denny Hamlin (DK $10,400, FD $11,500) had victory snatched away from him at the last moment again last week. He has yet to win in 2021 but has locked himself into the playoff field despite that. He starts inside the top 10 again this week for another try on a track at which he has two career victories. With two runner-up finishes in the last three races at the circuit, he should be a driver to watch closely this week. Christopher Bell (DK $8,100 FD $9,200) will have to dig out of an early hole Sunday due to his 28th starting spot. He has been on an upward trend of results recently and could be poised to improve his best Michigan finish of 13th. Chase Elliott (DK $9,200, FD $12,500) comes at somewhat of a bargain this week after three top-fives and four top-10s in the last five races. He has never won at Michigan, but Hendrick Motorsports has had one of the fastest cars all season, and he has nine top-10s from 10 starts at this circuit. Austin Dillon (DK $8,000, FD $7,500) is seeking to reverse the growing points gap to his teammate in the playoff hunt. This week could be a good opportunity for him to accomplish that. He has a better Michigan record than Reddick, who has only raced at this track twice in this series and grabbed a top-10 here last season. Matt DiBenedetto (DK $7,300, FD $7,200) is on one of his best runs of finishes of the year. He finished 11th or better in the last five races including a fifth-place run last week. He drives a Ford, which has dominated recent Michigan wins, starts fourth, and finished seventh in the second Michigan race last year. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (DK $6,900, FD $5,800) may also be a good consideration this week with his 12th-place starting position. He has a best Michigan finish of eighth and has three top-20 finishes from the last four races at the track.