FANTASY: The Pure Truth About Michigan
Pure Michigan 400 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
The Sprint Cup Series returns to Michigan International Speedway on Sunday for the second time in 2013. In my preview of the first race, I discussed how Ford had once been the dominant manufacturer at the track but that in recent years, it had tailed off.
Entering the June race, Ford had sent just two of the last 11 cars to Michigan's Victory Lane. Then, Greg Biffle went out and won that race in a Ford, his second consecutive win at the track. Does that prove that Ford is back in style at MIS? Not necessarily. It might just mean that The Biff has the track figured out.
Your take on that specific question might help shape the Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing roster this weekend. Ultimately, you'll need to pick the drivers, not the manufacturers, and here are the best options this week:
Michigan International Speedway is a two-mile, D-shaped oval, which makes it among the largest non-restrictor plate ovals in the schedule. That means speed! This track will be fast and good driving skills are unlikely to overcome a slower vehicle. To win the race, a team needs to find the cars maximum speed by the drop of the green flag.
The legend of Ford at Michigan International Speedway is an interesting one. Aside from Greg Biffle's recent run of back-to-back wins, there's nothing to suggest that Ford is better than the rest in recent years, but that doesn't mean they can be ignored. What if it's not just Biffle? After all, seven of the top-17 finishers in June drove for the manufacturer.
Focus less on the manufacturer and more on the team that brings the car to the track. It's going to be the best-funded teams running up front, because the superior technology will take over at an oval this large.
- #2 Brad Keselowski - If you put any merit in Ford, this is your only choice on the A-list. Bad Brad's lifetime average finish at Michigan is 17.5, but he's finished no worse than 13th in the last four starts at the track with two top-fives.
- #20 Matt Kenseth - He's been Jekyll and Hyde much of the season, and Michigan is one of his best tracks. Kenseth has top-10s in five of the last six races at the track and a lifetime average finish of 9.4.
- #24 Jeff Gordon - In desperate need of a win, Gordon has 18 top-fives at Michigan in 41 starts and needs to cash in.
- #48 Jimmie Johnson - This remains one of the few tracks at which Johnson has never won a Cup race. With how often he wins everywhere else, why use one of his nine allocations this week?
- #16 Greg Biffle - He's won the last two races at Michigan. Need I say more?
- #18 Kyle Busch - He only has six top-10s in 17 career starts at Michigan, but let's ask: "what have you done for me lately?" He has top-fives in three of the last five Michigan races, including a win in this event in 2011. Busch also won last week at Watkins Glen, so the momentum is there.
- #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. - Engine troubles ended Junior's Michigan race in June, but he had led 34 laps beforehand. His last win was at the track in June 2012 and he led 25 laps en route to a fourth place finish last August.
- #99 Carl Edwards - No one does better than Edwards at Michigan. Statistically, at least. His 8.2 average finish leads the field.
- #9 Marcos Ambrose - With the two road courses done for the season, Ambrose's fantasy stock is as well. If you still have him in your lineup from Watkins Glen, sub him out as his 22.6 average finish at Michigan isn't worth rostering.
- #78 Kurt Busch - A 22.0 average finish at Michigan over his career keeps the conversation pretty short on this Busch brother.
- #14 Austin Dillon - The kid has a lot talent, is in a great ride, and finished 11th in the June race at MIS. What's not to like?
- #17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - If you believe that the car is important, then consider that Matt Kenseth did well enough in the No. 17 to average a top-10 finish over 27 races. That might not translate to Stenhouse, who hasn't recorded a top-10 all season, but it will help.
- #10 Danica Patrick - She finished 13th at MIS in June. She had a good day then, but she hasn't had many others; that was her third highest finish of the season. I've put up the "Swim at Your Own Risk" sign, and you can proceed from here.
Drivers are listed by car number and not necessarily in rank order.
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