Rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for that day. The ordering is not based on the highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by value of each driver.
Set your DraftKings lineups here: NAS $300K Front Row [$100K to 1st] (Cup)
1. Denny Hamlin ($10,400) - Michigan is a terrible race track and the terrible racing package has made two Michigan races insufferable. This is not the opinion of a crusty, racing purist. Last year at Michigan, Denny Hamlin ran the most fast laps and had the best average running position. Not only did the best car and driver not win, but Hamlin only led 7 of the 200 laps. Michigan is the definition of a dirty air track.
2. Joey Logano ($9,700) - In the first Michigan race, Logano destroyed the field, but that’s easy to do at a track where passing is challenging and passing the leader requires an act of God. In the second race, Logano’s team attempted to run the same setup, but it did not work in practice. At the last minute, the team swapped setups. Logano led the second most laps, but this had more to do with pit road gains than it did setups.
3. Martin Truex, Jr. ($10,800) - Extra downforce was a common theme for the JGR cars in 2019. It didn’t always translate into wins, but it was very common to see the JGR cars slicing through the field with ease. Truex drove from last to first in stage one of the second Michigan race.
4. Brad Keselowski ($10,100) - No matter how hard he tries, Keselowksi cannot win in his home state of Michigan. Keselowski had the enormous advantage of starting on the pole at a track where passing the leader is the most difficult, and yet, somehow, Keselowski was the only leader of the race to get passed.
5. Kevin Harvick ($11,000) - An aggressive camber setup resulted in excessive tire wear in the first Michigan race and the extra time spent on pit road knocked Harvick out of contention. In the second race, a more conservative, but a trimmed out setup allowed Harvick to hang around the top five all day. When fuel mileage eliminated the Penske drivers, Harvick inherited the win.
6. Ryan Blaney ($10,600) - Before his recent dynamism at intermediate tracks, Blaney was always good at the high speed, flat footed race tracks. Michigan will again be a pure speed race. All that stands in Blaney’s way is luck. It’s not skill or speed, but luck on pit road that will determine whether Blaney wins or not.
7. Chase Elliott ($9,300) - Before and after the Covid break, Elliott has had the fastest car in the series. However, over the last two months, Elliott has cooled off. He earned 17 hog points at Indy, but in the other seven races, his best output is 6 hog points.
8. Kurt Busch ($8,000) - How does a top 10 car finish 23rd? It runs out of gas on the final lap, that’s how. Busch’s CGR car has not been as strong as the other top-tier teams, but he has enough speed, and enough speed is a lot of speed when a driver is leading at Michigan. If Busch can cycle to the lead on pit road, then he can win this race.
9. Erik Jones ($8,800) - A Michigan born driver has never won at Michigan. Be prepared to hear that tired phrase this weekend. A driver born in New Hampshire has never won at New Hampshire. A driver born in Florida has never won at Homestead, either. Jones was the only JGR driver that did not have enough downforce in his car at Michigan last year.
10. Aric Almirola ($9,100) - Once again, Almirola squandered a great opportunity last week. In Almriola’s defense, New Hampshire doesn’t line up with his team’s current strength. The No. 10 car has been very fast in the high downforce package. He could easily bounce back this weekend.
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11. Kyle Busch ($9,500) - Historically, Michigan has not been a good race for Kyle Busch. His crew chief cites Busch’s inability to identify the correct setup during practice at Michigan. That won’t be a problem this year. Busch followed the typical JGR extra downforce setup and finished 6th last August.
12. Christopher Bell ($9,900) - For those that are expecting Bell to figure it out and stop wrecking, keep waiting. He’s a rookie with a lot of talent in a decent Toyota, but he’s still a rookie in a downgraded JGR car. This weekend’s extreme intermediate track drafting race is not one of his strong suits.
13. William Byron ($8,200) - Other than a wreck at Darlington and a tire issue at Atlanta, Byron has been a top 10 intermediate track driver this season. His average running position in the nine races where he avoided misfortune is 11th. His average running position in the second Michigan race was eighth.
14. Tyler Reddick ($7,200) - Michigan and Texas are not that similar, but they do share a unique quality, and that is that passing doesn’t happen on these tracks. Reddick punched above his weight class with his Texas finish due to a pit road gamble, but Reddick was still a top 15 driver at Texas.
15. Alex Bowman ($7,700) - Hendrick’s intermediate package was decent last year. Bowman’s team did not nail the setup, but they weren’t far off. Based on average running position, Bowman was the eighth best driver in the second Michigan race.
16. Clint Bowyer ($7,400) - He won’t say it, but he hates Michigan. Bowyer loathes high downforce slot car racing, and Michigan is the purest form of this abomination of racing. Bowyer wrecked in both Michigan races last year and his care center interviews evoked more pathos than the best WWE promo.
17. Ryan Newman ($6,200) - He’s unapologetic in the way that he races, but he also does not make excuses. Newman knows his skill level and the quality of the car he’s driving. Last year, Newman was the only car to pit an additional time under the final caution. He forfeited track position at a track where track position means everything, but in the final laps when multiple drivers ran out of fuel, Newman easily sailed to a 12th place finish.
18. Ty Dillon ($5,700) - In three of the last four intermediate track races, Dillon has finished 16th or better. In three of the last four intermediate track races, Dillon has been very lucky, but the points count the same. Dillon was a 30th place driver in the last intermediate track race, but everyone wrecked, so he finished 15th.
19. Ryan Preece ($5,800) - The hot seat got a little cooler this week. Preece finally finished a race and earned a 16th place finish, but due to a month’s worth of wrecks leading up to New Hampshire, he’s still near the bottom in owner’s points, so yet again, he’s starting in the back.
20. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. ($6,900) - It worked last week, why not again? This isn’t purely a place differential play. The JTG Daughtery cars took advantage of the lack of tire fall off at Michigan last year, and through pit road strategy they gained track position late in the race. Both JTG Daughtery cars earned top 15 finishes.
Set your DraftKings lineups here: NAS $300K Front Row [$100K to 1st] (Cup)
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