Michigan International Speedway is an interesting race track. This huge, 2-mile, D-shaped oval is technically the fastest track on the schedule, but at the same time, track position means everything here. Over 80% of all Michigan winners have started inside the top 5, and four of the last six winners have started on the pole. Additionally, the last time we were here (June of this year), all drivers that finished 7th or better started inside the top 10 during that race. In other words, as far as FOX Fantasy Auto goes, don’t be afraid to focus more on finish fantasy points this weekend as opposed to place differential points. With that being said, there were a couple drivers that had poor qualifying efforts on Friday but should be fast on Sunday, so they’re worth looking into to.
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My team points last week (Watkins Glen): 195
Overall team standings: 109th
Total team points for the season: 3,823
FOX Fantasy Auto Picks for the 2017 Michigan 2 Race
Kyle Larson ($12,200) – As usual, Kyle Larson’s salary is pretty high in FOX Fantasy Auto this weekend, but thankfully we have some relief in lower-priced drivers, so it’s going to be pretty easy to fit him into your lineup for Sunday’s race. Larson qualified 9th for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 but should be able to easily pick up some spots on Sunday; the #42 Chevrolet has won the last two races at this track and finished 3rd in the race before that. Additionally, Larson went to victory lane at Fontana earlier this year, which is the most similar track on the schedule to Michigan. It’s not a guarantee that the #42 Chevrolet is good enough to win here on Sunday, but Larson should be at least top 5 good before it’s all said and done.
Chase Elliott ($11,400) – Over the last month or so, the #24 Chevrolet has actually been faster than normal despite the finishes not really showing it. You can look at that one of two ways: either this team is not performing in the clutch, or they’re just having some bad luck on the track. As far as Michigan goes, this is arguably Chase’s best track on the schedule, as he has finished 2nd in all three Cup Series starts he has made here. Back in June, the #24 Chevrolet was probably a 4th-to-6th-place car, but Chase was able to get it up to the runner-up position when the checkered flag waved. And if he out-performs the car once again this weekend, we might be seeing an Elliott back in Cup Series victory lane for the first time in a while.
Martin Truex, Jr. ($10,300) – Last week’s race winner was one of the biggest surprises during qualifying on Friday here at Michigan, as Martin Truex, Jr. failed to make the final round for just the fifth time this season. The other races this happened were the three restrictor plate events and then Phoenix back in March. Anyway, we all know what Truex is capable at a track like Michigan, and unless he has major problems during the race, it’s hard to imagine him not ending up inside the top 5 before it’s all said and done. If you remember back to the last time we raced here, Chase Elliott got his track position to finish 2nd thanks to his pit crew’s speed, and the #78 team is one of the best in the business–and they’ve got 400 miles to get their driver to the front on Sunday.
Ryan Blaney ($8,000) – In all reality, Ryan Blaney should have been on the pole this weekend. He had an absolute rocket ship all day on Friday, and had the field covered by over two tenths in the first practice session. Blaney breezed through to the final round of qualifying but then had a slip up on his final lap and will have to start 12th on Sunday. So as far as FOX Fantasy Auto goes, Blaney is almost a must own, simply because he has top 5 potential and starts outside the top 10. The #21 team ran 4th in this race one year ago but, surprisingly, that has been Blaney’s only finish better than 17th here at Michigan in his five career starts in the Irish Hills.
Other viable options: Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Daniel Suarez
FOX Fantasy Auto Fade Option
Jimmie Johnson ($9,200) – The Summer of Jimmie Johnson continued last weekend at Watkins Glen, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Over the last few years, the #48 team has really struggled during the summer months, although it’s more due to testing for the end of the year than it is about driver and crew chief problems. The good news for Johnson fans is that the #48 Chevrolet looked really good in race trim this weekend despite qualifying back in 22nd. However, Johnson put that car hard into the wall during Happy Hour, so he’ll be starting from the back in a backup car here on Sunday. As far as FOX Fantasy Auto goes, Johnson will still be scored from 22nd, and he’s going to be a highly-owned driver because of his low price point. And while it’s still possible that he ends up well inside the top 10 before it’s all said and done, it’s nowhere near a guarantee. Over 40% of FOX players had Johnson on their team as of Saturday morning, and I’ll take that fade opportunity any week.