Daily Fantasy NASCAR Picks: Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan

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Issue #1: Brad Keselowski says that Toyota is tanking this weekend, so their cars won’t be inspected by NASCAR. I love conspiracies, but Brad is wrong here. He surprisingly won the pole because: A. Truex got bumped from round 2 in the closing seconds and could not attempt another run. B. The cars were faster with more laps on their tires. Keselowski made two runs in round 2. He had an extra lap on his tires in round 3. Although I would love a Toyota Illuminati conspiracy, it’s just isn’t so. The Toyotas are still fast.

Issue #2: Michigan is an extreme lap turner. Passing in the top 10 doesn’t happen. Fast cars will pass slow cars, but inside the top 10, where there is very little difference between driver skill and the machines they’re driving, passing doesn’t happen. Average cars will have trouble passing inside the top 20.

If drivers can’t pass during the race, then they’ll try to gain spots on restarts. As if restarts weren’t crazy enough, there is only one groove during a Michigan restart. The upper line will take off, and the lower line will backup in turn 1. That’s fine if everyone on the bottom line gives, but they won’t. This could be a wreckfest all day, or this could be a very green race that ends with restart madness.

Dig into the statistics and find the best plays for this weekend’s NASCAR event with the Daily Fantasy NASCAR Spreadsheet:

Top Tier Daily Fantasy NASCAR Picks (plus $9,000)

The Daily Fantasy NASCAR circuit heads north to an extreme intermediate track. There will be 200 laps on Sunday afternoon. That’s not a lot of hog points, but you’ll need the hogs. Bump up place differential in your algorithm.

Brad Keselowski may not have the fastest car, but it’s very close. What Keselowski does have is track position. The pole is very important at Michigan. The pole winner has won four of the last six Michigan races (not counting the rain shortened race). The pole winner scored the most fantasy points in four of those six races and the second most points once. It’s hard to pass the leader. It’s hard to beat the leader on a restart because they get the preferred groove. With several high priced cars in safe place differential spots, BK may not be necessary in cash games, but at his price he’s a great GPP play.

Martin Truex, Jr. was knocked out of the 2nd round of qualifying with just seconds remaining. If he would have made another run, it’s likely he would have advanced, and ended up on the pole or near it. Truex had the fastest car in the June Michigan race. He’s had the fastest car everywhere this season. He’s fast this weekend (practice #3: 2nd on the short run and 4th on the long run). Place differential points, finishing position points, fast laps points, laps led points – it’s all here. Think about it this way. Let’s pretend every week this season, you ignored practice and qualifying. You just made picks based on which driver was the best. You would have picked Truex every week, and you would have made money.

Kyle Larson loves Michigan. He’s won the last two races at Michigan. At most tracks, the racing line starts near the wall and then apexes near the bottom of the track, and then swings back out to the wall. Michigan’s corners are fairly steep and very wide. Drivers don’t run the wall in the middle of the turn, but the apex of the fastest groove is higher up the track. It’s the line that Kyle Larson prefers to drive, probably because of his dirt racing background. The track suits him well. Larson has been excellent this summer minus two exceptions – Indy (a track he doesn’t like), and Pocono (a race where he had a terrible race car). Larson won at Fontana back in March (a comparable two mile race track). The practice speeds check out.

Jimmie Johnson was an easy cash game lock, then he destroyed his car in the final practice. He’s for GPPs only. Let’s look at the facts. He is pretty cheap and he’ll be scored from 22nd. He’ll start from the back with a car that has zero practice laps on it. It’s a complete unknown. If anyone can do it, Johnson can. Three of his last four wins were when he started in the back. He started in the back for the June Michigan race and was inside the top 10 by the end of stage #1. At that point, his car became wrecking loose, and that was it. That was with a car that had practice laps on it (not a Mystery Machine). It’s not crazy to believe that this car will be able to reach 10th. It’s unlikely that the 48 car will be tuned correctly to beat fast cars that have been tweaked all weekend (Toyotas and Keselowski). Johnson’s ownership should be very low. The odds are against him. He doesn’t appear so cheap anymore. Just remember, late race restarts will shake things up at Michigan. Johnson will be fast enough to be within striking distance at the end. In the spring at Michigan, he raced to the top 10, dropped back when his car became loose, but in the end finished 10th.

Middle Tier Daily Fantasy NASCAR Picks ($7,000-$9,000)

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has one bad race at Michigan in the last 6 races (restart wreck). The rest are top 10s. This is a lap turner. Some drivers with exceptional cars will aggressively push for a win. Junior will take what the car gives him. This car is around a top car. After 400 miles, the good cars rise to the top and the weaker cars fall to the back. Junior hasn’t had a good year, and he burned some people last week (even though he looked terrible in practice and hated his car at Watkins Glen – which basically screamed, “don’t pick me.” Anyway, he was popular last week). His ownership should drop. A 19th to 12th is fine for cash, but he has GPP intrigue. If there is a late race restart, and Earnhardt, Jr. is in the prefered lane, then he could sneak away with a top 5 and over 50 fantasy points. He liked his car, and he should, he was 6th fastest in practice #2 and #3.

 

Daniel Suarez was 9th on the short run and 8th on the long run in practice #3. Michigan is a race where the practice results are very similar to the race results. If Carl Edwards was $7,800 and starting 16th, it would be a lock. The team is the same, the crew chief is the same, the car is arguably better (especially, when you factor in that the non-Toyota cars have plateaued or taken a step back), so what’s the hold up? Edwards is a great driver, but in a full throttle Cup car at a full throttle track, is there a noticeable difference between Edwards and Suarez? Last year, in the Xfinity race at Michigan, Suarez won by out driving Kyle Busch. The rookie has finished 7th or better in the last 4 races. There’s just one small concern. Suarez had a pretty good car in the June race, but his average running position was 17th. He got caught in the late race restart wreck, so that ruined his finish, but the average position is disappointing. He’s improved every week, so his first cup race at Michigan shouldn’t carry too much weight.

 

Value Tier Daily Fantasy NASCAR Picks ($6,000-$7,000)

We’re looking for place differential and finishing position. If we can get them both, then awesome. Sometimes it’s foolish to chase both.

 

Ty Dillon should be in your cash lineup every week. He’s always in the 6K tier. His average finish is 20th and his average start is 25th. That’s 29 fantasy points. This week he starts 33rd. That’s 37 fantasy points. In the first Michigan race, he had to start from the back. Guess where he finished. You’re good, yes, he finished 20th. He’s a rookie, but this will be his 4th cup race at Michigan. He’s not the greatest GPP play because 36 points is his ceiling. He can work in GPPs, but it won’t be of his doing, it will be because other 6K drivers fail to score fantasy points.

 

Paul Menard and his RCR teammate, Ryan Newman, did not unload with speed. Newman said they made gains in Friday’s practice but not enough. That’s evident in the poor qualifying showing. Menard never did find speed this weekend, but he’ll start 30th. This is a good track for Menard. Before the spring race, Menard had a 9 race top 20 streak at Michigan. He finished 22nd in the spring. A 22nd place finish this week will result in 30 fantasy points. That will work in cash games. Dillon and Menard can score big points if this race turns into a late race restart wreckfest (that’s a big if). If this race is green, Menard is good enough to be a 25th place car. That’s not good enough for most DFS players. Dillon has been a great DFS play this season, he should garner a lot of ownership. Allmendinger is starting in the same spot, has more speed, and has comparable recent success at Michigan. He should be higher owned than Menard, too. Menard is the low owned GPP option, if you’re gambling that there will be late race restart wrecks. In 25th place, he’ll be far enough back that he’ll avoid the wrecks.

 

Punt Tier Daily Fantasy NASCAR Picks (sub $6,000)

 

Michael McDowell is not in play in cash. Punting isn’t necessary in cash this week, take any of the $6,000 drivers mentioned above. Michigan is not kind to punts. This is a speed track, and punts normally don’t have the engines for this track. McDowell is not starting in the back, but that’s a good thing. If you’re in the back, then you have a slow car, and you will stay in the back. The closest thing we saw to a punt in the spring race was Bubba Wallace. He started 26th and finished 19th. That’s what we are looking for from McDowell. He’ll run around 25th for most of the race, and possibly gain some spots at the end. He finished 23rd in the spring, we’ll take that – it’s almost 5x.

 

Track Cheat Sheet: Michigan

 

  • This is a two mile long intermediate track. It’s a very fast race track, but that’s it. Once the cars spread out after a restart, the lap turning begins. There is just one groove at Michigan, so passing only occurs on restarts.
  • Michigan plans on running the tire dragon across multiple grooves this weekend. The goal is to create side-by-side racing in the turns. The tire dragon has not worked before, it won’t work this weekend.

 

I am a promoter at FanVice and am also a user (my username is greenflagradio2) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on.  Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of FanVice and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.