NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: FireKeepers Casino 400
NASCAR's top series is diving into the dog days of summer, and there is a definitive three-horse race developing for the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship. Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch have dominated the series with five and four wins, respectively, but last weekend at Pocono, a well-timed strategy call and a fast hotrod led Martin Truex Jr. to his second win of 2018, and he declared to the field that he is not going down without a fight.
The series this week heads to Michigan International Speedway, NASCAR's speedy sensation. In the hometown of two of NASCAR's three manufactures, the time trial record sits at an average speed around the two mile track of 204.557 mph, set by Harvick in 2014. With speeds so fast, the car will be tested much more than the driver this weekend, which is why this track has tended to favor drivers in good form.
Here at numberFire, we've always got you covered for everything NASCAR DFS. Our track preview gives you more information about this fast two-miler and prior races at Michigan, our driver preview helps bring you up to speed on drivers' recent history here and elsewhere, and our Heat Check Podcast with Jim Sannes gives you insight how he is approaching this weekend's slate.
Kevin Harvick ($12,500 on FanDuel): If it feels like this man has been the lead on every race preview this year, it's because he has. Despite falling back on the final run last week, Kevin Harvick dominated again and lived up to his price tag. Happy Harvick has been a slam dunk in every race this year on tracks larger than a mile, assuming he stays out of trouble. That won't change this week as he starts fourth and was fastest in both practice sessions. In what became final practice after a rainout, he was the fastest on the 10-lap average board, as well.
You have quite a few options at the high end this weekend, but I am starting with Harvick and sprinkling in from there.
Kyle Larson ($11,500): If you checked Kyle Larson's Michigan history, it almost does not seem possible in real life. The reigning king of the two-mile ovals has won the last three at Michigan and finished third at the race before that. This is Larson's best track, and he's priced up for it. Larson has consistently been the fastest Chevy this year, and it will be put to the test at this speedy circuit to see if he can hang with other Fords and Toyotas.
Larson was going to be popular this weekend no matter what, but now starting 26th after another disappointing qualifying run, he feels like a must play, no longer necessarily needing laps led to pay off his price tag. After finishing second in final practice, don't be surprised if Larson finds the front at some point Sunday.
Brad Keselowski ($11,300): Brad Keselowski is extremely interesting this weekend even though he's crowded in a sea of top drivers to choose from. Now, it goes without saying, Martin Truex Jr. ($12,000) and Kyle Busch ($11,600) are worth consideration, and if you mass multi-enter contests on FanDuel, you will want pieces of all five of the men mentioned here. But let's shine some light on Keselowski for a moment, who may be a little under the radar and come at lower ownership.
Keselowski has made it no secret that he wants to win at his home track. He's a proud native of Rochester Hills, and he has come up short on several occasions here. Keselowski doesn't appear to have the raw speed of Harvick or Larson, but starting second and pacing fifth in final practice, maybe unforeseen strategy or circumstances could put Keselowski to the front. He's been steady all season, and being in a Ford appears to be an advantage for Sunday, so maybe the extra pride of his home race gives him the boost he needs for win number one in 2018.
Jimmie Johnson ($9,800): When moving into the mid and lower tiers, you'll notice a theme: Chevrolets. Jim Sannes in our Heat Check podcast has been as heavy-handed as possible trying to point out the Chevys appear to be on the rise. The shining example of that might be the seven-time Cup champ, Jimmie Johnson.
Coming off a great top-five run at Charlotte, as well as running in the top five at Pocono before finishing eighth, Johnson appears to have turned the proverbial corner in a season where he's been down on speed otherwise.
Johnson has one lone win at Michigan back in 2014 and is not necessarily showing flashes on the speed chart this weekend. But starting 20th at this price, it is extremely tempting to pair Johnson with a couple of studs. The speed of his Hendrick teammates encourages me that Johnson will once again shine on Sunday and should find the top 10 if he remains incident-free.
Jamie McMurray ($9,200): There's no getting around it: this season has been a struggle for Jamie McMurray. He's posted only 2 top-10s despite showing speed at times that even matches his teammate, Larson. The stars, though, have appeared to align for McMurray this weekend to be a tremendous daily fantasy play.
McMurray has run well at Michigan, posting 4 consecutive top-10s, likely borrowing from Larson's tricks and setups. He starts 24th after a sub-par qualifying run, but for fantasy, we love seeing fast cars starting deeper in the field. Hesitation is understood when it comes to rolling out McMurray in 2018 as trouble seems to find him wherever he goes, but it appears Big Mac has the car, the know-how, and the starting position to fill out FanDuel lineups well on Sunday.
Daniel Suarez ($9,000): Daniel Suarez had a plethora of success in his 2017 rookie campaign, but Michigan was not the place of any of it. He crashed twice in the Irish Hills, but I'm optimistic for Suarez this Sunday. Suarez is starting 22nd but has shown top-10 speed all over in 2018 and already improved to 12th in final practice on Saturday. Hopefully Suarez gets a little more luck at Michigan to match his speed because at $9,000 on FanDuel -- and even cheaper on other NASCAR daily fantasy sites -- Suarez is a great filler on a balanced lineup.
Bubba Wallace ($7,000): For lower-priced drivers, usually the further back they start, the more playable they become. You get what you pay for a lot of the time in NASCAR DFS, so while Alex Bowman ($7,500) and William Byron ($7,100) come with tantalizing speed and upside for the price, they both have had trouble finishing races and running well for the duration. For that reason, especially in cash, Bubba Wallace seems much more attractive.
Bubba may have burned some folks last weekend with an engine failure, and his speeds this weekend are suboptimal to this point, but he has been much faster than the 28th-best car in a watered-down 2018 Cup field. Bubba has consistently had top-20 speed, so for only $7,000, he is a keystone in lineups trying to fit multiple studs in up front.
Ty Dillon ($6,500): The same line of thinking applies to Ty Dillon. Dillon has had a much rockier start to his Cup career than his brother, Austin, which surprises many as Ty was considered the better prospect. Ty's biggest problem so far has been the lack of quality equipment. Germain Racing's 13 car has seemed to take the biggest nose dive of any of the Chevrolets as a fringe top-20 team in 2017 now has struggled to find the 30s and outpace lower-funded teams.
For fantasy, don't expect much from Dillon on raw speed alone. He is starting 31st, and his practice speeds are not much higher. But with Dillon starting so low, essentially the final car that will not be multiple laps down by the end of Stage 1, any sizable incident or pileup brings Dillon into the realm of tremendous value at this price. Incident potential is always something to consider in NASCAR that no other daily fantasy sport really has.
With so many stud options, we will need salary relief somewhere, and Dillon is as safe as an option comes.
Austin Swaim is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Austin Swaim also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username ASwaim3. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.