Quicken Loans 400 Fantasy Preview
We at New Hampshire Motor Speedway can appreciate this weekend's race at Michigan International Speedway. Sure, the distance around the track is double that of our "Magic Mile," but isn't everything built twice as large in the Midwest?
Our main appreciation comes from the cold winters that go months without a wheel on the track. While most of the warm weather places can go heat the track whenever they want, when we need the heat in winter, it comes in the form of a fireplace and some hot chocolate.
Ugh, let's not talk about that! It's June!
I like the fact that we're pushing 80 today and I know that Michigan feels the same way. That track also must appreciate that NASCAR visits twice a year to help celebrate the shorter summer, just as we love to see the Sprint Cup Series roll off the haulers in July and September.
There's a certain dedication to racing required by people that live in these areas. I know, because I hear from fans everyday counting down the days. When you live in the south and the weather is warm, you can go to races whenever you want. Up north, it's not the same. Fans wait out all the terrible weather months just for the chance to attend a couple races before going back into hibernation.
That's the case here in New Hampshire and I assume that Michigan feels the same way about their loyal, all-weather fans.
At the same time, there are some drivers that seem as excited as the fans to visit Michigan this weekend. The track is a little larger than the average cookie cutter type and some drivers, especially those in Fords from the nearby factory, seem to love this place. It should make for a good week to be a fantasy owner.
Strategy: Three of the top four driver ratings at Michigan come from Roush Fenway Racing and its fleet of Fords. That doesn't mean you can't start a Chevy or a Toyota (neither Dodge driver seems consistent right now), but it does give you a starting point. It also supports the theory that a two-mile D-shaped oval relies heavily on the car more than the driver, as one manufacturer seems to have figured out how to produce a fast car with regularity.
#11 Denny Hamlin - He doesn't drive a Ford, but he's been driving well most everywhere in 2012. His 12.1 average finish at Michigan is fifth in the field and he has two wins to go with that.
#17 Matt Kenseth - The new points leader has an average finish of 9.5 and a 104.7 driver rating at Michigan (in a Ford). Considering how well he's raced all season, this is a good week to use him.
#99 Carl Edwards - Another Ford driver, Edwards' 8.2 average finish and 12 top-10s in 15 starts at this track make him a favorite. He hasn't been great this year, but he's looking for a win and this could be his best shot.
#48 Jimmie Johnson - A 105.6 driver rating suggests he should do much better at this track than his 15.2 average finish and mere three top-fives in 20 starts. But, Yahoo scores on finishes and his aren't usually good, so it's tough to justify burning a start when he's so strong at so many other places.
#16 Greg Biffle - As one of the three Roushkateers, Biffle's 106.5 driver rating at Michigan ties for the best with Edwards. Only allocation managers should leave him out this week.
#20 Joey Logano - NASCAR runs strongly on momentum. The New England native broke a long winless streak with a win at Pocono and now heads to a track where he has three top-10s in six starts.
#55 Mark Martin - Just keep rolling him out there, as he continues to be effective! Martin's 13.3 average finish at Michigan trails just Biffle on the B-List.
#88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. - You'll want to proceed with caution if you plan on playing Junior. Yes, this was the track where he most recently won a race (way back in 2008), but it's not statistically his best. He has just eight top-10s in 25 Michigan starts, but four of them have come in the last 10 races. The decision to start or sit him should come down to allocation management.
#15 Clint Bowyer - While he's hanging around in the Chase, he isn't a good choice this week. An average finish of 18.3 and driver rating of 77.6 at Michigan both rank 11th among the standings' current top-12.
#51 Kurt Busch - It seems like he's the guy that nobody liked at school that's now decided to sit on the dunk tank platforms, so I suppose I'm just another guy looking for a chance to send him for a swim. Truth be told, I have zero faith that he somehow bounces back from his recent infraction with something to prove, as he's rarely shown an ability to overcome adversity.
#21 Trevor Bayne - Bayne put up a 16th and a 24th at Michigan last year and he races a Ford. That's not great, but it's fine for the C-List and he'd be an allocation play if it weren't for the No. 33 entering the field.
#33 Austin Dillon - The 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion is touted as something special. He's the grandson of Richard Childress, so I have a hard time believing he'll get anything less than the best in an RCR car this weekend. He's this week's savior in the allocation game.
#13 Casey Mears - If I'm not mistaken, pulling in with a brake problem after completing just 36 laps constitutes starting and parking. That's what Mears did last weekend, so I, for one, will not even consider playing him until I know he's going to try and finish the race.
The picks in this blog are based around Yahoo's Fantasy Auto Racing game and its standard scoring rules. The preview is designed to provide suggestions, while still encouraging managers to make their own decisions. Once sorted into Yahoo's A, B and C-Lists, they are organized based on car number and not directly associated with a rank value.
You can sign up and play for free, by visiting http://racing.fantasysports.yahoo.com. If signed up, the "Fans of NHMS" group may be joined by clicking here.