RaceDayScore NASCAR: Pure Michigan 400

RaceDayScore NASCAR: Pure Michigan 400

This article is part of our RaceDayScore NASCAR series.

Pure Michigan 400

Location: Brooklyn, Mich.
Course: Michigan International Speedway
Format: 2.0-mile D-shaped oval
Laps: 200

Race Preview

Kevin Harvick won his second race of the season in an extended stay at Bristol Motor Speedway. The scheduled Saturday night race was interrupted for rain multiple times both Saturday and Sunday, but finally finished with Harvick in firm control Sunday evening. The win gives Harvick momentum to build as the Chase for the Sprint Cup approaches, but will leave some other teams frustrated. Kyle Larson is one of those feeling the pressure with just three races remaining to book a spot in the Chase. His frustrating weekend was detrimental to those hopes, as Chris Buescher capitalized with a top-five finish to move into a Chase spot, knocking Larson down the order. This week Larson and the others fighting for their championship hopes will focus on Michigan International Speedway.

Key Stats at Michigan International Speedway

Number of previous races: 94
Winners from pole: 19
Winners from top-5 starters: 56
Winners from top-10 starters: 71
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 7
Fastest race: 173.997 mph

Last 10 Michigan Winners

2016 spring - Joey Logano
2015 fall - Matt Kenseth
2015 spring - Kurt Busch
2014 fall - Jeff Gordon
2014 spring - Jimmie Johnson
2013 fall - Joey Logano
2013 spring - Greg Biffle
2012 fall - Greg Biffle
2012 spring - Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2011 fall - Kyle Busch

Michigan features wide turns with plenty of room for drivers to try multiple lines through the turns to maximize speed down the circuit's long straights. Penske Racing and Joey Logano made it work in their favor earlier this season as he won the race from pole, leading 138 of the 200 laps. The low downforce rules package that was featured in that race will also be implemented this weekend. The aim of that adjustment is to make handling more difficult for drivers, and in theory that increased difficulty should create more passing opportunities. Teams and drivers will need to continue to stay on top of adjustments throughout the 400 miles while also treating tires as gingerly as possible to ensure grip lasts as long as possible.

(Based on Standard $60K Salary Cap)

Tier 1 Values

Brad Keselowski - $11,700
Joey Logano - $11,500
Matt Kenseth - $11,000

Tier 2 Values

Martin Truex Jr. - $10,900
Tony Stewart - $10,600
Denny Hamlin - $10,400
Austin Dillon - $10,300

Tier 3 Values

Greg Biffle - $9,900
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $9,500
Danica Patrick - $9,500
Chris Buescher - $8,800

Long-Shot Values

Casey Mears - $8,600
David Ragan - $8,500
Regan Smith - $8,200


Lower-Risk Lineup ($60K Salary Cap)

Joey Logano - $11,200
Matt Kenseth - $11,100
Carl Edwards - $11,100
Greg Biffle - $9,900
Casey Mears - $8,600
Cole Whitt - $8,100

For the second week in a row, Joey Logano will lead the lower-risk lineup. The Penske Racing driver has been driving very well, collecting four top-10 finishes in the last five races, and will try to score back-to-back Michigan wins. Matt Kenseth is another driver racing well recently. He stumbled in Bristol but scored two top-fives and three top-10s in the four races prior to that. He also has three Michigan wins, including this race last season. Next is Kenseth's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Carl Edwards who comes away from Bristol thinking he could have won that race. Edwards has two Michigan wins in his career along with consecutive sixth-place finishes in the last two races there. Michigan has also been a fantastic track for Greg Biffle. He owns four wins there, and could leverage Roush Fenway Racing's increased competitiveness this weekend. As usual, Casey Mears has a tendency to overachieve at some circuits, and Michigan is one of those spots. He has three top-10s and a top-five from 26 career starts at the track and could sneak a top-15 run in this week. Cole Whitt rounds out the lineup by virtue of his consistent ability to finish better than where he starts. He averaged an increase of 10 spots from start to finish in the last five Michigan races.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($60K Salary Cap)

Brad Keselowski - $11,700
Tony Stewart - $10,600
Kyle Larson - $10,100
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $9,500
Chris Buescher - $8,800
David Ragan - $8,500

It feels like Brad Keselowski's opportunity to win at Michigan is very near. He hasn't finished worse than 13th since 2011 and brings run of five consecutive top-10 finishes at the track into this week's race. He will have to overcome a rough afternoon at Bristol, though. Tony Stewart continues to make his name known in the fight for the championship, and his seventh-place finish at Michigan earlier this season is another signal that he should be strong again this week. After being knocked out of Chase contention in Bristol last week Kyle Larson will want nothing more than to bounce back in with a win. He could do that at Michigan where he finished third earlier this season. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is fresh off a fantastic finish at Bristol and Roush has historically been one of the best teams at Michigan. He should be able to leverage those two factors to score his first top-10 at the track. While Larson was mourning the loss of his Chase spot Chris Buescher was celebrating another top-five finish that moved him into the championship hunt. The team has three more races to keep their good form before officially competing in the Chase in his rookie season in the series. Finally, David Ragan is another driver that can over achieve at this week's track. He has one top-five and two top-10s from 19 Michigan starts and raced from 35th to finish 22nd there earlier this season.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. C.J. Radune plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: cjradune, RaceDayScore: cjradune.
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C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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