Dan Beaver

NASCAR Fantasy Live Preview

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Fantasy Live: Firekeepers 400

Wednesday, June 6, 2018


NASCAR heads to Michigan International Speedway for the first time in 2018, but fantasy owners are not left to their own devices. The Auto Club 400 was contested on the other two-miler – Auto Club Speedway – and the comparatives between these two tracks are strong.

Throughout the season, there have not been the same kinds of peaks and valleys we’ve seen among drivers in other years. The domination of Kevin Harvick Kyle Busch has obscured the stats, but 10 drivers this year have scored top-10s in at least half of the races; 18 drivers have scored top-15s in that many events.

Look back to the race in California as a starting spot and build out the NASCAR Fantasy Live roster from there.

Kyle Larson
Kyle Larson will be very popular this week – and he is well-deserving of the attention. It’s not just that he is going for a fourth consecutive win at Michigan in the Cup series, or that he finished second this spring at Auto Club. Larson finally seems to have all of his problems behind him with six consecutive top-10s on unrestricted speedways this season. Winning is difficult to predict, but Larson has not finished worse than third in his last six races on two-mile tracks, so a top-five is fairly certain.



Martin Truex Jr.
Martin Truex Jr. got his first win of 2018 in the Auto Club 400; he got his second and a guaranteed spot in the playoffs last week at Pocono Raceway. Last year, Truex finished second in the Pure Michigan 400, which was part of a sweep of the top 10 on two-mile tracks. Recently, he has been mentioned as the driver most likely to join Harvick and Busch in the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Now that he has found Victory Lane again, he is going to start to concentrate on accumulating bonus points for race and segment wins.

Joey Logano
A rare bad finish last August at Michigan ended a 10-race streak of top-10s on two-mile tracks for Joey Logano. In that span of races, he won the 2016 FireKeepers Casino 400. He also has another win on this track in the 2013 Pure Michigan 400. Both victories came from the pole and most of his top-10s have been recorded after he started on one of the first five rows. If Logano qualifies well this weekend, he is a no-brainer for inclusion on the roster.

Chase Elliott
He finished only 10th last week, but Chase Elliott still believes that the Pocono 400 was one of his best races of the season. That might be spin, or it may be that he actually felt a difference in the handling of the car and is starting to figure out how to make the new Chevy go as fast as it did last year. Elliott is still seeking his first career win, but he has been as close as possible with three runner-up finishes in four races at Michigan. His worst result was an eighth last August – which means he has a perfect record of top-10s on this track.

Greatest Differentiator

Clint Bowyer
Michigan was once one of Clint Bowyer’s best tracks. From 2011 through 2015, he scored nine consecutive top-10s with two different teams (Richard Childress Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing). He hasn’t cracked that mark again, but this is an occasion when players want to look at his current momentum. Stewart-Haas Racing has been the team to beat on a weekly basis and placing all of their drivers in the top 10 or 15 has been commonplace. Bowyer finished 11th this spring at Auto Club and had a third last year on that track. He should be good for at least another top-10 this week.

Garage Pick

Jamie McMurray
It’s not quite time to fully commit to Jamie McMurray, but his last two races have shown a lot of promise. He ran better than he finished at Pocono last week, but still came away with a top-15. He was sixth at Charlotte the week before. Mostly he is showcased because he looked comfortable in the car for the first time this year. With that in mind, his current four-race, top-10 streak at Michigan makes McMurray very attractive. So does the fact that he has not finished worse than 16th on this track since 2014 – a streak of eight consecutive races.

Red Flag

Kevin Harvick
This might be a good week to leave Kevin Harvick in the garage… If you’re done laughing, let me explain. One of two poor 2018 performances came this spring at Auto Club when he lost his composure trying to pass Larson and wrecked himself. That probably won’t happen again, but Harvick struggled a little at Michigan last year and failed to crack the top 10 in either race. We are not suggesting he is going to finish that badly again, but he might have some difficulty finishing in the top five and one needs to remember that the NASCAR Fantasy Live game involves allocation management. This is unlikely to be one of his 10 best performances of the regular season.

 



Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 12 years with a little help from his >500,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.
Email :Dan Beaver



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