NASCAR DFS: Firekeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway DraftKings Lineup Plays
The Cup Series season resumes this weekend with a doubleheader at Michigan International Speedway. The action kicks off Saturday with the Firekeepers Casino 400, and for just the second time in 2020, we get to build NASCAR DFS lineups for a two-mile oval.
Back in March, Auto Club Speedway hosted the first event at a 2.0-mile track, a race dominated by Alex Bowman and Ryan Blaney. As big and wide as Auto Club and Michigan tend to be, clean air and momentum are actually crucial, and it is common for one driver to lead more than half the race. The size of a track like Michigan can also allow crew chiefs to get a little creative with pit strategy, especially if we see a lot of long green flag runs.
The current rules package hasn't necessarily changed that trend, but thanks to the lack of horsepower, the leader doesn’t necessarily pile up a bunch of fastest laps points. As a result, I like to load up on three or four drivers who I expect to have fast cars and finish near the front, rather than hunting for drivers who may finish in the middle of the pack by add some place differential points. Drivers can bolster a Top 5 or Top 10 finish in a big way when some fastest laps points are added to the mix.
Kevin Harvick ($11,000)
Harvick contends for wins and provides dominator points on a routine basis, and I don't see that changing at Michigan, especially now that he is starting third. Harvick won here last August, and he has a 5.2 average finish in the four races at two-mile ovals since the start of last season. You can't go wrong making Harvick one of your building blocks in this one.
Ryan Blaney ($10,600)
He has been fast all year, and Blaney had one of the cars to beat at Auto Club in March, leading 54 laps. Starting 11th, he has more place differential points available than most of the other big names, giving him another avenue to pad his score. Look for Blaney to contend for the win while logging points in all of the categories at DraftKings.
Joey Logano ($9,700)
Logano is my favorite play on the board for Saturday's race. He starts from the pole, which is where he started last June before leading 163 of the 203 laps on his way to the win. Logano came back to MIS in August and led 52 more laps, and I am expecting him to pile up some serious dominator points in the first leg of the doubleheader. I will be all over him at this price tag.
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,800)
He is a Top 5 scorer at the two-mile tracks since the start of last season, and Truex has been particularly strong at Michigan. He finished third and fourth in the two races here last season, and he has led at least 25 laps in four of the last six starts at the track. Starting 12th, he also more place differential upside than the other legitimate dominator threats. Truex looks like the total package this weekend.
Christopher Bell ($9,900)
The racing gods continue to saddle Bell with terrible track position via the random qualifying draws, and the rookie has to start 29th Saturday. Fortunately, Bell is one of the best passers in the series (check out Motorsports Analytics for proof), and he offers a Top 20 floor with Top 10 upside. Bell is a bit on the pricey side, but you are paying for the best bet to pile up place differential points.
Chase Elliott ($9,300)
Elliott hasn't been piling up dominator points like he was early in the year, but his price tag his dipped a bit as a result, and his record at Michigan is hard to argue with. He has a 7.6 average finish in eight starts here, notching seven Top 10s. At worst, I think he delivers another Top 10, and a Top 5 with some dominator points is a good possibility.
Kurt Busch ($8,000)
He's been rock solid all year, and Busch has been a steady performer at the two-mile ovals throughout his career. Since joining Chip Ganassi, he has three finishes of sixth or better in the four races at 2.0-mile tracks, notching a third-place run at Auto Club in March. Busch starts 10th, and I expect him to still be in the Top 10 when the checkered flag waves. He offers a save floor for a midrange price, making him a good fit for cash lineups.
Ty Dillon ($5,700)
While Dillon might not have the upside of John Hunter Nemechek or Ricky Stenhouse Jr., he has a decent floor for such a cheap price tag. He starts 34th, so the place differential category is working in his favor, and he is typically a good bet for a Top 25. In fact, he finished 11th and 22nd in the two races at Michigan last year. I think he can gain 10-plus spots Saturday while freeing up money to build a balanced lineup.
Denny Hamlin ($10,400)
While he does have a couple of wins at Michigan, Hamlin hasn't led more than 16 laps here since 2010. Of course, he did finish second here last August, and he and Kevin Harvick have been the strongest drivers in the series throughout 2020. After drawing a spot on the front row, it certainly wouldn't be a surprise to see Hamlin win the dominator categories, despite his history at MIS. Swap him into lineups for Kevin Harvick or Joey Logano or pair him with one of them.
Erik Jones ($8,800)
It has been boom or bust for Jones on the track this year, and he found out this week that he won't be back with Joe Gibbs Racing next year. Still, we know he is capable of delivering Top 10s, if not Top 5s, on any given week, and he gained 19 spots and finished 10th at Auto Club in March. From the 23rd starting spot, Jones has the upside to be a real X-factor in bigger contests.
Alex Bowman ($7,700)
As disappointing as he has been the last couple of months, I understand why people would be hesitant to roster Bowman. However, he was an absolute force the first time the series visited a two-mile oval this year, leading 110 laps in a win at Auto Club. Starting sixth, he is close enough to the front to deliver some dominator points if he has the same type of speed. At this price, I love his upside for GPP lineups.
Austin Dillon ($7,500)
Richard Childress Racing has shown sneaky speed at the two-mile ovals in recent years, and Dillon has four Top 15s in the last fives races at Michigan, finishing seventh or better twice in that span. Starting 18th, he won't be an obvious play, but Dillon could be a surprise Top 10 finisher and deliver 40-plus fantasy points.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($6,900)
Trusting Stenhouse is a recipe for disappointment, but starting back in 32nd, he has enough differential upside to be worth a flier in a lineup or two. He finished 20th at Auto Club in March, and he has three Top 20s in the four races at two-mile ovals since the start of last season. If he finishes in the top half Saturday, he could be the reason you win a lot of money at DraftKings.
Corey LaJoie ($5,600)
He is far from a safe pick, but LaJoie starts back in 36th and will occasionally challenge for a Top 20 when races break in his favor. Michigan can be a track where pit strategy and restarts really shake up the running order, so if you are looking for free up a bunch of cap space, I think it is a good spot to roll the dice on LaJoie as a pivot to Ty Dillon or Daniel Suarez.