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Dan Beaver

Statistically Speaking

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Weekend Update: Michigan

Saturday, August 11, 2018


This was supposed to be a standard weekend with one practice on Friday that would primarily be used to work on qualification, time trials in the afternoon, and then two practices on Saturday. Mother Nature had different plans and abbreviated Saturday morning's practice to the point that it was not terribly useful for the drivers.

On a two-mile track, it pays to roll off the hauler fast. Qualification is important because it shows exactly who came prepared. The poor showing by most of the Chevrolets suggests that last week's positive feeling after Chase Elliott's win was misplaced. The Richard Childress Racing teammates Austin Dillon and Ryan Newman qualified on row three. Alex Bowman will start 10th, but these drivers have not shown the kind of consistency to make them reliable fantasy picks.

Practice

Fog interupted most of the Saturday morning practice session and gave the drivers only 15 minutes on track. In that brief outing, Erik Jones paced the session with a fastest lap of 200.150 mph and was the only driver to top the 200 mph mark. He managed to get in 10 consecutive laps and lead the average speed chart as well. Normally, an abbreviated session like this would not mean much, but Jones was already one of our dark horse favorites and this underscores that pick. Furthermore, Jones had the quickest 10 laps in Happy Hour.

This spring's winner, Clint Bowyer had the second quickest 10-lap average time in the morning session, but with more drivers making long runs during final practice, he fell to seventh among 17 drivers in that session. Bowyer is an acceptable pick for the garage in the NASCAR America Fantasy Live league – but only if a player is comfortable with the remainder of their roster.

Ryan Blaney had the second-quickest speed in final practice. Team Penske has been very strong at Michigan in the past, but all three of the Penske pals have struggled in recent weeks. Joey Logano had the fastest single lap in final practice, but he did not run 10 or more consecutive laps so that we can judge his long-run speed. That makes him a risky proposition. Blaney is the cheaper driver in salary cap games and is likely less popular in Pick 'Ems, so he makes a good differentiator.

Saturday Morning Practice Results 
Final Practice Results 

Qualification

Denny Hamlin dominated qualification. He had the fastest time in Friday's morning practice session and then paced all three rounds of time trials. In most of these sessions, he beat the competition by a comfortable margin and ultimately took the top spot with a speed of 202.794 mph. Hamlin didn't need to worry about single-lap speed on Saturday, and he posted the fifth-quickest time in Happy Hour.

That put Hamlin one position ahead of Kevin Harvick in regard to 10-lap averages. Harvick rolls off the grid third and it should not take long for him to get the lead. Given the dominance of the Big 3, Harvick is a safer pick, but Hamlin can be used if a player wants to make a bold move.

Kyle Busch was able to close the margin in the final round of time trials and came within .011 seconds of his Joe Gibbs teammate. Busch was only 12th-quickest in regard to 10-lap averages and that makes him a little less attractive than Harvick. Of course, Busch has not accumulated six wins this year by showing his hand in every practice session.

Daniel Suarez crashed in qualification. He was not able to post a lap before making contact with the wall, so he starts 40th. The team opted to fix this car because Suarez believes it is the best one he has ever had. He may be correct: The No. 19 was fourth-quickest in Happy Hour. With such bad track position to begin the race, it is unlikely he will contend for a top-five, but he is going to earn a lot of place-differential points.

Qualification Results



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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