It’s not unheard of for drivers to make their way through the field here at Michigan International Speedway, but it isn’t something that happens frequently. As long as nothing crazy happens during qualifying at MIS, the drivers that qualify up front tend to finish there as well. Now, obviously the FOX Fantasy Auto game is built around place differential points, but this is one of those races where finish points are worth targeting as well. Michigan is 2-mile D-shaped oval and the sister track of Fontana, where we raced at earlier this year in March.
My team points last week (Pocono): 143
Overall team standings: 99th percentile (it’s not showing a ranking)
Total team points for the season: 2,401
Top FOX Fantasy Auto Drivers for the 2017 Michigan Race
Kevin Harvick ($11,800) – During qualifying on Friday, Kevin Harvick looked like he had a shot at the pole in the final round, but he kind of messed up turns 3 and 4 and will instead be starting from 11th when Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 goes green. That’s no big deal, though. Harvick hasn’t been to victory lane at Michigan International Speedway since the 2010 season, but he’s still been the best Fantasy NASCAR driver here over the last three years; Harvick has finished inside the top 5 in seven of the last eight races in the Irish Hills, and the only time he didn’t was when rain caused the race to end early. Harvick ended up finishing 29th that day, but he led the most laps and probably had the best car.
Jimmie Johnson ($11,500) – It’s always a good idea to compare the first practice results of the weekend to the qualifying results and see if you can identify any major discrepancies. Obviously, since this is coming up with the Jimmie Johnson section of this article, the #48 Chevrolet was one of those who didn’t end up where it should have–and that’s been the case for this team all season. Johnson has been a place differential king in 2017, and with FOX Fantasy Auto putting such a premium on those place differential points, he’s the 3rd-highest scorer (on average) this season, right behind Kyle Larson and Martin Truex, Jr. Anyway, Johnson’s record here at Michigan isn’t stellar–just one top 5 finish in his last nine starts–but he’s more than capable of getting the job done here. He did have to go to a backup car after wrecking in Practice #2, but that’s not a big deal in my eyes, and it will probably make him under-owned. Brad Keselowski at $11,000 is another option in this price range if you don’t feel comfortable with Johnson.
Chase Elliott ($10,900) – With the rush of first-time winners here lately, many Chase Elliott fans are sitting back and just waiting for the stars to align and the #24 Chevrolet gets back to victory lane. Will it be this weekend? Michigan was a great track for Chase last year, as he finished 2nd in both races here and led a combined 66 laps, including 35 laps in this June event. Elliott also started 10th in this race last year, for what it’s worth. This #24 team has gotten their mojo back as of late and now have back-to-back top 10s after their 8th-place run at Pocono. Chase should be more than capable of making that three in a row here this weekend.
Erik Jones ($7,000) – This #77 go their first ever top 5 finish at Pocono last weekend and will be looking to build on their momentum here at Michigan. That makes it three straight top 15s for Erik Jones and two top 10s in the last three races. Not too bad. As far as this weekend goes, the #77 Toyota is more than capable of finishing among the leaders, as it was one of the most consistent cars during the practice sessions on Saturday; Erik was 8th-fastest in Practice #2 and wound up with the 5th-best lap in Happy Hour. The best part about Jones this week is not only his relatively cheap price, but also the fact that he qualified back in 14th for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400. He should score in the high 30s or lower 40s in this FOX Fantasy Auto game.
Other viable options: Ty Dillon, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex, Jr., Kurt Busch, Ryan Blaney, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Trevor Bayne, Paul Menard
Stay away from…
Kyle Busch ($10,600) – Rowdy is currently in one of the worst slumps at one particular track that I’ve ever seen. He finished 11th here at Michigan back in the 2015 August race, which isn’t terrible until you realize that that is his best result here since 2013. He’s also had just three top 10s in his left FIFTEEN races at MIS. Now obviously Kyle Busch is going to break out of his slump here soon, and it might even be this weekend–the #18 Toyota has looked stout since they unloaded it on Friday. However, Busch qualified 4th for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400, so there’s very little room for place differential points. And while his $10,600 FOX Fantasy Auto salary is nice for a driver at his talent level, you can get a guy like Martin Truex, Jr. for the same amount of money, who is much safer of a fantasy pick.
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. ($8,100) – Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. has been a great value play in Fantasy NASCAR this season, and every time we come to Michigan International Speedway, there’s always the urge to put a littler better ranking on the Fords, especially those out of the Roush-Fenway camp. But for whatever reason, Stenhouse has been borderline terrible on the 2-mile race tracks. He did end up finishing 5th at the Fontana race last season, but that’s his only finish better than 22nd in the last six races at 2-mile tracks. Oh, and here at Michigan? Ricky’s best finish in eight career starts has been 15th, and he hasn’t ended up better than 25th in the last two years.