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DraftKings NASCAR: FireKeepers Casino 400

C.J. Radune

Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the 2015 Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

FireKeepers Casino 400

Location: Brooklyn, Mich.
Course: Michigan International Speedway
Format: 2.0-mile D-shaped oval
Laps: 200

Race Preview

Martin Truex Jr. added his name to 2018's list of multiple-race winners with his Pocono victory last weekend. It was a thorough performance from the Furniture Row Racing driver who had to battle back after a poor pit stop lost him valuable track position at the start of the second stage. The win put Toyota back in Victory Lane, and proved that Ford can be beaten. This week's race at Michigan International Raceway will be compared with March's visit to Fontana when Truex won from pole position leading 125 of 200 laps. The circuits are similar in configuration, but feature different banking. Michigan's extra banking increases lap speed. Average lap speeds for pole position at this track routinely edge above 200 miles per hour, and the average race pace is faster than Fontana as well. Kyle Larson has mastered the layout most recently, winning each of the last three races at the track. If he were to win again this weekend it would be Chevrolet's first victory since the season-opening Daytona 500. The Chevrolet powered teams are beginning to close the gap to Ford and Toyota, and fantasy players will need to keep that in mind as they set their lineups for the FireKeepers Casino 400.

Key Stats at Michigan International Speedway

Number of previous races: 97
Winners from pole: 20
Winners from top-5 starters: 57
Winners from top-10 starters: 73
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 7
Fastest race: 173.997 mph

Last 10 Michigan Winners

2017 fall - Kyle Larson
2017 spring - Kyle Larson
2016 fall - Kyle Larson
2016 spring - Joey Logano
2015 fall - Matt Kenseth
2015 spring - Kurt Busch
2014 fall - Jeff Gordon
2014 spring - Jimmie Johnson
2013 fall - Joey Logano
2013 spring - Greg Biffle

Michigan International Speedway is a 2.0-mile D-shaped oval that consistently produces some of the fastest lap speeds anywhere on the NASCAR schedule. The long on-throttle time each lap puts a premium on horsepower and the odd mechanical failure is not unexpected. Drivers also have wide turns that enable them to move up and down the grooves to find the line that works best for their chassis, and drivers taking the low line will try to slide up in front of those taking the high. The fastest cars have tended to prefer the high line, but drivers will need to be able to change their lines in order to make passes. Goodyear is bringing a new tire for this week's race to reduce operating temperature and increase overall wear. Drivers will need to preserve their tires throughout a fuel stint, and those that abuse the grip could find themselves at the mercy of fresher tires behind them. For that, track position and restarts will be essential. Like at Pocono, mid-pack teams will be apt to try differing pit strategies in a calculated effort to move forward on track. While pit strategy and tire management can become factors for the win it is always nice to have the fastest machine on track.

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
(Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Kevin Harvick - $12,000
Kyle Busch - $11,600
Martin Truex Jr. - $10,700
Kyle Larson - $10,500
Brad Keselowski - $10,100

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Joey Logano - $9,800
Denny Hamlin - $9,200
Chase Elliott - $9,000
Ryan Blaney - $8,800

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Aric Almirola - $8,200
Jamie McMurray - $7,600
Daniel Suarez - $7,300
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $7,000

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

A.J. Allmendinger - $6,500
Darrell Wallace Jr. - $6,100
Chris Buescher - $5,900
Ty Dillon - $5,600

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Kyle Larson - $10,500
Denny Hamlin - $9,200
Chase Elliott - $9,000
Jimmie Johnson - $8,500
Matt Kenseth - $7,100
Ty Dillon - $5,600

Michigan's lower-risk fantasy lineup has a bit more balance and upside potential than the higher-risk option. Kyle Larson regained his form last week in Pocono, and heads into the weekend looking for his fourth consecutive Michigan victory, and his lower starting position should provide plenty of finish differential points. Denny Hamlin ended poorly at Michigan, but was quick throughout the afternoon and had been on a run of top-fives and top-10s until last week's bad luck. Another confident showing last week from Chase Elliott gives him starting power for fantasy players. He hasn't finished outside of the top 12 in any race since Bristol nearly two months ago. He has also finished in the top 10 every time he has raced in the Cup series at this track. Fantasy players not sold on Elliott could insert Ryan Blaney here instead. Jimmie Johnson has also worked his way back into the good graces of fantasy owners. He has turned his season around and, while difficulties will still arise, he is on a much better trajectory than earlier this year. With three top-10s in the last four races he is ready to be selected again. Matt Kenseth is still running well below his potential with Roush Fenway Racing, but he logs the miles and adds top-20 finishes. He is a three-time Michigan winner than should be capable of a top-15 this week. Backing up those choices is Ty Dillon. Dillon has been very consistent at this circuit with an average finish of 19.8 from four races.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Kyle Busch - $11,600
Joey Logano - $9,800
Erik Jones - $8,400
Aric Almirola - $8,200
Darrell Wallace Jr. - $6,100
Chris Buescher - $5,900

The price of choosing one of the favorites this week means there have to be compromises made in the roster. That is exactly what the higher-risk lineup represents with Kyle Busch being one of the three favorites. Busch had two top-10 Michigan finishes, won the fall race in 2011, and should be in for the win on Sunday. Joey Logano is who I will go with next. While he hasn't been as flashy with his pace as some other options this team has proven they will not give in. Logano was all but counted out last week, but rallied to finish ninth. He was in the top five at California, and Michigan is a very similar track. Erik Jones needs to get some luck on his side, but has proven to be quite fast at times. He finished third at Michigan last fall, and should be anxious to regain some traction after a 29th-place run last week. Things continue to look bright for Aric Almirola, too. The driver admitted to being more open minded, and that was rewarded with his sixth top-10 of the season last week. He should be in store for more of that this week. Darrell Wallace Jr. made a shifting mistake that ended his run at Pocono, but that was after he worked his way into the lead. The team isn't afraid to use strategy to move forward, and Michigan is another circuit where he has previous experience. Finally, Chris Buescher makes an optimistic play. He finished sixth after starting 20th in the fall race last season, and he had a good afternoon to finish 17th in Pocono, which could give him some juice heading to Michigan.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. C.J. Radune plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: cjradune, RaceDayScore: cjradune.
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