The NASCAR Cup Series is headed to the Irish Hills of Michigan this weekend for the FireKeepers Casino 400 on Sunday afternoon. Michigan International Speedway is a huge 2-mile track that produces some very high speeds heading into the corners, but there’s really not a lot of action going on on the track outside of the restarts, so it can be a little boring (and usually has just one car dominating most of the day). Still, this is another race to play DraftKings Daily Fantasy Sports, so of course us degenerates are going to be interested and watching closely on Sunday.
Kyle Larson is on the pole for this weekend’s race with his teammate, Chase Elliott, slated to start 2nd. Before we get into this DraftKings article, make sure you check out my FanDuel write-up for Michigan as well (click here) because there’s a lot of crossover between these two sites. Now without further ado, let’s goooo!!!!
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Speed Report & Loop Data Driver Averages
I got three data tables ready to analyze this weekend for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan. First up is data from the 550hp package this year. This includes eight races thus far: Homestead, Las Vegas, Kansas, Charlotte, both Atlanta races, and both Pocono races. The second table is data from the three races on 2-mile race tracks last season (one race at Auto Club and two races here at Michigan). And then the third table is the last four races of data from here at Michigan specifically. Included in these tables are the following statistics:
- ARP = average running position
- DR = driver rating
- FL = fastest laps (total)
- LL = laps led (total)
- T15 = laps ran inside top 15 (total)
- Total Laps = laps completed (total)
2021 Driver Averages At Intermediate Tracks w/ 550hp Package
|Martin Truex Jr||8||10.6||09.9||95.0||75||62||1744||2047|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||8||21.5||17.3||68.2||15||23||962||1936|
2020 Driver Averages At 2-Mile Tracks
|Martin Truex Jr||3||06.7||13.9||95.1||11||3||330||517|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||3||23.7||18.3||65.1||3||6||150||516|
2019-2020 Driver Averages At Michigan
|Martin Truex Jr||4||03.3||11.1||105.0||32||43||535||720|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||4||24.5||20.3||60.7||1||0||167||719|
DraftKings Strategy & Dominators for Michigan
It’s not uncommon for Michigan to be a one dominator race. We might get two, but with Kyle Larson on the pole this weekend, it could very well be a one-dominator build. If that happens, you’re looking to fill out the rest of your lineup mainly with place differential plays, and maybe one or two high finishing plays.
- Michigan is a 2-mile race track. The only other 2-mile track that used to be on the schedule is Auto Club Speedway. We haven’t raced at Auto Club since March of 2020, and we haven’t raced here at Michigan since August of last year. A lot has changed since then, so take those statistics with a grain of salt, but the data from the last two years at these two tracks is very relevant.
- NASCAR is running the 550hp package this weekend. There have been eight intermediate races with this package that we can analyze from this season: Homestead, Las Vegas, Kansas, both Atlanta races, both Pocono races, and Charlotte.
- When it comes to the tire combination this weekend, Goodyear is bringing the same left side tires that the Cup Series ran here at Michigan last year. On the right side, they’re bringing the same tires that were used in the Kansas and Las Vegas races this year.
- There are 200 laps scheduled for the FireKeepers Casino 400 on Sunday, which means we’re looking at 50 DraftKings FPTS up for grabs for laps led. Michigan is usually a pretty green race, so we’ll likely see about 160 green flag laps, which would equal 72 possible DraftKings FPTS for fastest laps.
These are the potential dominators for Sunday’s race at Michigan, and are listed in the order of likelihood according to my projections:
- Kyle Larson
- Kyle Busch
- Ryan Blaney
- Chase Elliott
- Martin Truex, Jr.
- Denny Hamlin
Some “surprise” dominators that could happen on Sunday include: Alex Bowman, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, and William Byron.
Driver-by-Driver Breakdown Video
Now for the video breakdown! Be sure to go here and subscribe to my YouTube channel if you haven’t already.
Optimal Lineup According to Jordan’s Projections
The optimal DraftKings lineup for Michigan according to my Projections is:
- Kyle Larson
- Alex Bowman
- Christopher Bell
- Austin Dillon
- Daniel Suarez
- Anthony Alfredo
Confidence Rating = 7.6/10. This is a very safe cash lineup to use, in my opinion. You have the most likely dominator in Larson and then the all three major chalk high finish and place differential plays in Bell/A. Dillon/Suarez as well with Alex Bowman rounding it out. Since my brain works more in tournament mode, though, I actually like the 2nd-best lineup (according to my projections) a little more, and that one is: Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Christopher Bell, Austin Dillon, Tyler Reddick, and Anthony Alfredo. You could also go Ryan Blaney instead of Chase Elliott in that second lineup spot.
GPP / Tournament Picks
Chase Elliott ($9,200) – My projections really like Chase Elliott this weekend, and even though it’s pretty uncomfortable to put together a DraftKings lineup with both front row starters on it, that strategy could definitely work out this weekend at Michigan. Obviously Larson is the favorite to dominate Sunday’s race, but Chase Elliott has shown flashes of similar speed in this 550 hp package this season. Throw in the fact that Chase has the best average finish (7.7) among active drivers at this track and you really have to like rolling the dice on last year’s Cup Champion. Elliott is a legitimate top 5 threat on Sunday and if he can just pick up a handful of dominator points along the way, he’s going to be worth taking the risk on in DraftKings at just $9,200 salary.
Ryan Blaney ($9,000) – If Chase Elliott is a little too risky for you, then go one position further back on the starting grid and consider Ryan Blaney. This #12 Ford has finished 6th or better in six of the eight 550hp package races this season and has the 5th-most fastest laps here at Michigan over the last two years. Blaney only having three career top 5 finishes at this track is probably going to scare some people away, but trust me: that number could easily be double, he just has trouble finishing sometime. It’s the same story with Blaney as it is with Chase Elliott this weekend: pick up some dominator points and a top 5 finish and the moderate DraftKings salary would be worth it. I probably wouldn’t pair these two together in one lineup, though, unless you’re not including Larson in it.
Tyler Reddick ($7,400) – Honestly, I probably like Tyler Reddick a little too much this weekend at Michigan, as this is my favorite tournament play on the slate for sure. Reddick will start from back in 14th for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400, but has legitimate top 10 finishing potential (and will be pushing a little harder with the Playoffs on the line these next two races). Looking at the 550hp package races this year, Reddick five finishes of 9th or better in the eight races and only two results worse than 11th (he was 22nd at Las Vegas and 26th in the first Atlanta race). As mentioned in my DFS YouTube video this week, Reddick is a great pivot or combination driver with the chalk place differential plays priced a little higher.
BONUS TOURNAMENT PLAY: Bubba Wallace ($6,400) – If you’re looking to get off the low-dollar chalk, or want to save some cap from one of the mid-$7,000 drivers, Bubba Wallace is a tournament play to consider. This #23 Toyota is starting to run consistently better than early on in the year, and at Pocono last month (another high horsepower track), Bubba had the 12th-fastest Green Flag Speed. He also ranked 11th-fastest in that category in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. If this race at Michigan on Sunday gets crazy at the end, Bubba Wallace could sneak into the optimal lineup with a surprise finish.
Cash Core Drivers
Kyle Larson ($11,500) – It’s always risky to roll with a high-priced pole sitter in DraftKings cash lineups, but this is Kyle Larson we’re talking about. At Michigan, it is incredibly difficult to pass the leader, so it’s hard to imagine Larson not dominating at least the first half of the FireKeepers Casino 400 on Sunday afternoon. Is it possible? Absolutely, but not likely. Larson is a three-time winner at Michigan and Hendrick Motorsports has had the strongest cars all season. The #5 Chevrolet is going to be a threat to win on Sunday and Larson should pick up the most dominator points along the way yet again.
Austin Dillon ($8,000) – If the obvious chalk plays in this price range this weekend, I think Austin Dillon is the safest, so that’s why I’m writing him up. AD has a career average finish of 16.4 here at Michigan International Speedway and has finished 16th or better in eight of the last eleven races at this track. In the 550hp package this year, he’s got an average finish of 11.5 and an average running position of 12.6. As long as he doesn’t wreck, Austin Dillon is a very strong DraftKings option this weekend at Michigan.
Anthony Alfredo ($5,800) – Nobody really likes this but DraftKings is really not giving us much of a choice when it comes to lineup builds this weekend; Anthony Alfredo is the no-brainer chalk play in this price range. He starts back in 35th and even on a bad day should be fast enough to get a top 28 finish. On a good day, Alfredo will post a top 25. At $5,800 in DraftKings, and with a starting position of 35th, it’s just a no-brainer. Eat the chalk with Pasta this weekend, especially in cash games.
FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan DraftKings Driver Projections
The following chart takes into account the very basics: the starting position and the projected finish of each driver. The projected finishes are averaged from six different ranking systems. Also factored in are projected laps led and fastest laps for each driver. You can click the headers below to sort the chart by that attribute. By default it is sorted by average projected FPTS.
|Driver||DraftKings Salary||Avg Proj FPTS||Proj Ownership||Starting Position||Ceiling Proj FPTS||Avg. Projected Finish||Dollar Per FPT|
|Martin Truex Jr||$9,400||48.33||20.56%||5||65.05||04.3||$194|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||$6,900||16.83||7.84%||12||32.80||19.3||$410|