Dan Beaver

NASCAR Fantasy Cheat Sheet

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Consumers Energy 400 Cheats

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan International Speedway is the third and last race on one of the two-mile tracks.

Weather conditions in California and Michigan are different – and as with the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks, drivers will say that they are not the same – but their opinion does not alter the stats. The difference between these two courses is minimal in terms of who consistently runs in the top 10, the teens, or the 20s.

To set the lineup this week, look back at not only the rain-shortened Firekeepers Casino 400, but also the Auto Club 400. That will help you find some favorites and dark horses alike.

1. Kevin Harvick
If he had been racing anyone other than his teammate Bowyer this spring, Harvick would like have been more aggressive in seeking the win.

2. Kyle Larson
Before he spun at Michigan this spring, Larson had a six-race, top-three streak going on two-mile tracks. Four of these were victories.

3. Chase Elliott
Now that he's had a taste of victory, most experts believe Elliott will win a lot. He finished second in his first three starts at Michigan.

4. Martin Truex Jr.
He finished second in this race last year and dominated the first two-mile race at Auto Club this spring. The Big 3 will dominate once more on Sunday.

5. Kyle Busch
Busch is often at his best after suffering a disappointment like he did last week. In the two previous two-mile track races this year, he's swept the top five.

6. Kurt Busch
Since winning the spring 2015, rain-shortened race at Michigan, Busch has only one more top-five in five races. That was a third he scored in this year's Firekeepers Casino 400.

7. Erik Jones
Jones has shown remarkable consistency on two-mile tracks with a perfect record of top-15s in five races and a best of third in last year's edition of the summer Michigan affair.

8. Ryan Blaney
In two starts on two-mile tracks this year, Blaney finished eighth both times. Team Penske is not contending for many top-fives, but they can still get a solid top-10.

9. Clint Bowyer
Bowyer's Michigan win this spring kicked off a three-race, top-five streak. He hasn't been inside the top 10 since.

10. Brad Keselowski
Keselowski has one of the better records at Michigan. That has not made a huge difference on other tracks while he has been struggling this season, however.

11. Aric Almirola
In 23 starts, Almirola has never scored a top-10 on a two mile track, but he's been close in his last three starts with a pair of 12ths and an 11th.

12. Denny Hamlin
In his last six starts on two-mile tracks, Hamlin has alternated a top-10 with a finish outside that mark. That makes it a little difficult to handicap him accurately.

13. Joey Logano
Dating back to the 2013 season, Logano has finished outside the top 10 only twice in 17 races on two-mile tracks. This could be the week he turns the No. 22 program around.

14. Jimmie Johnson
Johnson's performance at Michigan will tell a lot about how far Chevrolet has come with their package. He has not scored a top-five on a two-mile track since he won Auto Club in 2016.

15. William Byron
A rising tide elevates all ships in the harbor. If Hendrick Motorsports has improved their package, Byron should contend for a top-15 at Michigan.

16. Alex Bowman
When Hendrick Motorsports completely turns a corner, they are going to be a force. Bowman finished 13th at Auto Club and was 16th at Michigan this spring.

17. Jamie McMurray
McMurray could be this week's best differentiator. He enters the Consumers Energy 400 with a five-race streak of top-10s at Michigan.

18. Austin Dillon
Michigan is one of Dillon's better tracks with three top-10s there. This spring, he finished 14th and has only one result worse than 20th in his last seven starts on the two-miler.

19. Ryan Newman
Newman had not finished outside the top 20 at Michigan since 2011 - a span of 14 races - until he scored a 22nd this spring in the Firekeepers Casino 400.

20. Daniel Suarez
Suarez got off to a strong start on this track type with a seventh in last year's Firekeepers Casino 400. He hasn't cracked the top 20 on a two-mile track since.

21. AJ Allmendinger
Allmendinger could be a surprisingly good value if he fits the right niche on your roster. His last five attempts on two-mile tracks ended between 17th and 22nd.

22. Bubba Wallace
In three previous starts on the two-milers, Wallace has finished either 19th or 20th. That seems like a good place to handicap him this week.

23. Paul Menard
At Michigan this spring, Menard scored his first top-five on a two-mile track in three seasons. His average before that was about 21st, however.

24. Ty Dillon
Since joining the Cup series fulltime, Dillon has finished in a narrow range of 18th to 21st in four of his five attempts. His other effort netted a 27th.

25. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Roush-Fenway Racing was once the team to beat on two-mile tracks, but neither Stenhouse nor Bayne has shown enough speed to get them back at the front of players' minds.

26. Kasey Kahne
Kahne finished 24th at Auto Club and 23rd at Michigan this spring with a team that has fewer resources than many he was racing against.

27. Trevor Bayne
Bayne gets back behind the wheel of the No. 6 this week after finishing 37th in the Auto Club 400. He crashed out of that race just past the midway point.

28. Michael McDowell
Consistency is important to Fantasy NASCAR players. McDowell has finished between 23rd and 33rd in his las five attempts on two-mile tracks.

29. Chris Buescher
In Michigan's second race last year, Buescher shocked the field with a sixth-place finish. This spring, he was also a solid value with a 24th.

30. Ross Chastain
Chastain is not the first driver who comes to mind on unrestricted, intermediate speedways, but his pair of races on two-mile tracks this year both ended in top-30 finishes with a best of 26th at Michigan.

31. Corey LaJoie
LaJoie could be one of this week's most pleasant surprises. He's finished 27th or better five times in 12 races this year with the No. 72. One of these came at Michigan.

32. David Ragan
A 25th-place finish in the Auto Club 400 raised a lot of expectations for Ragan at Michigan later in the year, but he did not live up to them and finished 38th with crash damage.

33. Matt DiBenedetto
DiBenedetto has not cracked the top 30 on a two-mile track this year, but in 2017 he scored results of 26th to 29th in their three races.

34. Landon Cassill
It has been seven races on unrestricted speedways since Cassill earned a top-30 finish, but he's running to the end most of the time and giving the team a good set of notes from which to work.

35. Jeffrey Earnhardt
Earnhardt gave the Gaunt Brothers a 29th two weeks ago at Pocono and that has earned him another ride with this team.

36. Blake Jones
Jones has one previous start in this car. He finished 33rd at New Hampshire three weeks ago after starting 37th and earned a few points for his fantasy owners.

37. BJ McLeod
The last time NASCAR had a full field, McLeod finished 40th at Pocono with an engine failure. If his equipment holds up, he should do a little better this week.

38. Gray Gaulding
In the second StarCom car this week, one should not expect a lot from Gaulding unless there is a lot of attrition. He will add to their notebook and that is what the team needs.

39. Timmy Hill
This will be Hill's 10th race of the season and 83rd attempt in his Cup career. He often finds a way to pick up a few spots in an event by staying on the track.

40. Garrett Smithley
One of Smithley's two career Cup starts came at Michigan this June. He completed one lap and finished last in a second StarCom entry. He's driving for Premium Motorsports this week.

Previous Cheat Sheets

Firekeepers Casino 400 (Michigan) 
Auto Club 400 
Quaker State 400 (Kentucky) 
Overton's 400 (Chicagoland) 
Coke 600 (Charlotte) 

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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