The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Michigan International Speedway for the first of two races at the 2.0-mile, D-shaped oval. Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 will also be the second race of 2018 at a two-mile track, with the first coming at Auto Club Speedway back in March.
Michigan is a big, fast track with a wide racing surface, and while passing isn’t necessarily easy, the multiple racing grooves and a tendency for longer green flag stretches usually allow the fastest cars to get to the front.
Look at the results from Michigan’s sister track, Auto Club, earlier this year. Kevin Harvick wrecked out early while battling in the Top 5, but the rest of the top finishers were the usual suspects. Weekly frontrunners Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch took the first three spots. Meanwhile, Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske placed six cars in the first eight spots, and Hendrick Motorsports and Stewart-Haas Racing claimed six of the final seven spots in the Top 15.
Yes, two-mile ovals like Michigan have been known to produce the occasional fuel mileage finish, but stage racing has eliminated that to a degree. In other words, you need to be prepared to load up on the big names this weekend if you want to post a strong score and hold serve in season-long contests like Fantasy Live and the Driver Group Game.
Although he didn’t get the win at Pocono, Harvick did lead the most laps and continued to show elite speed. Expect more of the same at Michigan this weekend. Over the last 10 races here, Harvick’s seven Top 5s lead all drivers, and his 7.6 average finish is tied for the best in the series.
He’s coming off a win at Pocono, and Truex also won the first race of 2018 at a two-mile oval, leading 125 laps in his victory at Auto Club. He finished sixth and second in the two races at Michigan last year, leading 50-plus laps in both events. Truex should be a Top 5 option in all formats again this weekend.
His record at Michigan is actually rather pedestrian by his standards, but Busch did finish in the Top 10 and lead double-digit laps in both races here last season. He’s also been one of the best drivers in 2018, and he led 62 laps and finished third at Auto Club back in March.
Larson has been the king of the two-mile tracks, finishing third or better in the last six races. He was the runner-up at Auto Club earlier this year, and more importantly, he will be going for his fourth win a row at Michigan this weekend. This is a great spot to use Larson in the Driver Group Game and in Fantasy Live, and he should be an excellent option across all fantasy formats.