NASCAR Picks: Pure Michigan 400
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After a Martin Truex Jr. win last week at Watkins Glen the Monster Energy Nascar Cup Series travels west to take on the two mile track that is located in Brooklyn, Michigan. The banking here at Michigan International Speedway is a straight up 18 degrees in each of the four corners of the ‘D-shaped’ track. There have been many close calls along with some fatal accidents in both the Nascar series and in open-wheeled competition. This is of course a by-product of the speeds that these cars can attain over the course of the race. Over the past two days alone both Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney were able to get their speeds up over 203 miles per hour in either practice or qualifying. At first thought one would think that this is a restrictor plate race but it is not which would beg the question…why not?
With only four races left before the Challenger Round of 16 drivers begins there is quite a bit of concern for some of the teams in the garage this weekend. We already know that 13 drivers have qualified for the playoffs by virtue of winning a race this season which leaves just three spots left before the playoff season begins. Chase Elliott is in 14th place with 648 points while Jamie McMurray sits in 15th place with 643 points. Those two drivers ‘seem’ to be safe for the time being but a lot can happen in four weeks. Matt Kenseth sits in a precarious position as his 637 points has him in the 16th and final playoff transfer spot. The problem with Kenseth is he will be out if we have a first time winner over the next four races or the 17th place driver in Clint Boyer can overtake him in points. Bowyer sits just 28 points away from Kenseth and could catch him if things break his way. I haven’t even mentioned Joey Logano who is currently on the outside looking in with a paltry 542 points. Logano will need to win one of the next four races to get in.
A few notes going into the race have both Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson starting from the back-up field in back-up cars while Ricky Stenhouse Jr and his team were going to try to repair his car that hit the wall. Antother thing to keep an eye on id Denny Hamlin as he was on ‘baby-watch’ last week and with his wife not giving birth as yet, it surely can come at any time now. If it happens before the race starts he will not start the race and leave to be by her side. Now that you are all caught up with the track and playoff standings, let’s take a look at some of the driver’s that have a chance to grab you some points for Sunday’s race.
Joey Logano ($9,000) and the rest of his crew said last week that Watkins Glen was the track that they thought they had the best chance of winning at. The truth is, when you are in the predicament that the driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford is in, you have to say that every week. One has to think that this is the race that they have the best chance of winning so it will be all hands on deck for this one. Logano has racked up nine top 10 finishes over the last 10 starts here at Michigan which includes taking the checkered flag twice over the last four and a half years. He has finished out of the top 20 in four of the last six races this season, which is reason why he is in danger of missing the playoffs this season. He will start in the front row and was able to retain a fast speed in the last practice as his 199 miles an hour placed him in the top three.
It is not out of the question to win from the pole here at Michigan International Speedway. In fact that has happened five times over the last eight races so selecting Brad Keselowski ($9,400) would not be a stretch by a stretch by anyone’s line of thinking. The thing about both Keslowski and Logano is that their prices aren’t too high and you may be able to slip them onto your roster quite easily. Earlier this season the driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford had his string of six consecutive top 10 finishes snapped here at Michigan as he came home with a 16th place finish. His speed of 203 miles an hour has put him on the pole when the green flag drops Sunday afternoon and has been very fast in the last two practices. Look for him to be in the top 10 for most of the day.
Obviously selecting Kyle Busch ($10,500), Martin Truex Jr. ($10,600) or Kyle Larson ($10,300) is never a bad play as they are three of the most consistent drivers this season. Busch will start 6th, Truex 13th and Larson 9th with the driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet looking to take the checkered flag for the third time in a row. We cannot rule out Chase Elliott ($9,800) as he has finished second in his only three starts here in the Irish Hills of Michigan. For you numbers guys, which we all are, in both early races at Michigan he started 10th while starting fifth in the only August race he has run here. Do you want to guess at where he starts on Sunday?
Clint Bowyer ($8,300) is moderately priced and as mentioned above, is sitting in 17th place and within striking distance. At first glance the driver of the #14 Nature’s Bakery/ Feeding America Ford may not be the best selection at this track as his last four finishes has produced a finish no higher than 23rd place. The only saving grace here is that he has five top 10 finishes in the last seven races this season, which is the reason why he is still in contention. Bowyer will start from the 11th position when the green flag drops on the Pure Michigan 400 Sunday afternoon.
Daniel Suarez ($7,800) has been slowly but surely been adjusting to life on the Monster Energy Nascar Cup Series circuit. We all knew the #19 Arris Surfboard/MacAfee Toyota has what it takes to win as evidence of Carl Edwards putting that car in victory lane three times last season. Suarez has racked up four straight races with a finish of seventh or better this season and will look to improve on that Sunday afternoon. He will start from the 16th position on the grid when the green flag drops Sunday afternoon.