We only have two 2-mile race tracks on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule, and we visit one of them twice: Michigan International Speedway. And while MIS has produced some exciting restarts and finishes over the years, many people feel like the racing at this track has been lackluster overall, specifically because clean air is so dominant. NASCAR’s new rules package didn’t help that at all. Overall, it’s super hard to pass here at Michigan, so in a NASCAR Fantasy game like Slingshot, it kind of makes you re-think your strategy a bit, but at the end of the day, the best cars should be able to make their way to the front.
By the way, Fontana is the sister track to Michigan. We raced there back in March, so when you see that track referenced in this article, that’s why.
Click here for the starting lineup for this weekend’s race at Michigan International Speedway. Also if you’d like to analyze the results from Saturday’s first practice, you can do so by clicking here. For speeds from the second practice (Happy Hour), click here.
*Please note: the picks and suggestions below are my opinions and strategy for the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. These are not meant to sway your thinking in any way, but rather give you insight into the drivers I am most likely to pick on Sunday.*
Consumers Energy 400 Slingshot Picks
Kyle Busch ($13,000) – I’d probably consider Kyle Busch a chalk play this weekend in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. With Austin Dillon ($8,000) and Daniel Hemric ($7,100) pretty much being “must plays,” that leaves a lot of salary cap room on the table to afford a guy like Kyle Busch–plus he qualified the worst of any of the real contenders for Sunday’s Consumers Energy 400. What I’m trying to say here is keep that in mind when making your picks this weekend. Yes, Rowdy offers tremendous upside when it comes to place differential on Sunday, but his teammate, Martin Truex, Jr. ($12,900), qualified 15th and would be the better strategic play, as he’s probably going to be lower owned on Sunday. In other words, if Kyle Busch wrecks or has a bad day, you could gain a lot of points by going with Truex over him–assuming Truex has a good race. Anyway, I’m going with Rowdy and the bigger upside. He’s currently on a three-race streak of top 5 finishes here at Michigan and also went to victory lane at Fontana earlier this year, the sister track to MIS.
Erik Jones ($11,000) – Here’s a fun fact: Erik Jones has positive place differential in five of the last six Cup Series races, with the exception being Daytona back in July. He also has a streak of four straight top 5 finishes heading into this weekend, and even though the #20 Toyota wasn’t super fast on Friday, I could definitely see Jones contending for another one on Sunday. Even though he finished a career worst 31st here at Michigan back in June (tire issues), don’t forget that Jones charged from his 14th-place starting spot to end up 3rd in Stage 1, and he’s shown power here at his home track of Michigan in the past–including a 3rd-place finish back in 2017. The numbers aren’t all pointing to Erik Jones this week with flashing lights, but I’m perfectly fine with him flying under the radar on Sunday. This team is on fire and Erik rolls off from 16th for the Consumers Energy 400–plenty of room for place differential fantasy points.
Ryan Blaney ($10,900) – I debated for quite a while with these two drivers (Jones and Blaney), as my other three roster spots were pretty much solidified, and I’m still not 100% sure which way I’m going, but as of this posting I’m obviously leaning toward Jones and Blaney. The other two drivers that could fit in here are Kurt Busch ($11,100) and Kyle Larson ($10,700). Those two offer a slightly higher upside with place differential on Sunday, but I honestly think Jones and Blaney have the slightly better cars. Anyway… it’s no secret that Fords are the cars to beat here at Michigan International Speedway, and now that Ryan Blaney is finally starting to build some momentum, I think he’ll be able to contend for a very good finish here on Sunday. Over the last three races at Michigan, Ryan hasn’t finished worse than 9th, and in the August race last year he posted his second career top 5 finish at this track. Throw in his 5th-place result at Fontana earlier this year and I’m really liking this Penske driver as an overall NASCAR Fantasy play this weekend.
Austin Dillon ($8,000) – Chalk Play #1. Both RCR cars were caught for not having legal cars after qualifying on Friday, so both Austin Dillon and Daniel Hemric had their qualifying times disallowed and will have to start from the rear. Unfortunately, that also means that they will be scored from the rear, so in place differential NASCAR Fantasy leagues, they’re “no-brainer” picks. As far as Austin Dillon and the August race at Michigan goes, he’s actually pretty good, with finishes of 4th, 7th, 16th, and 4th the last four times we’ve ran here at this point in the season. The #3 Chevrolet also came home 10th at Fontana earlier this year, although it should be noted that Austin started on the pole for that race (and didn’t lead a single lap), so that was a contributing factor to that good finish. Anyway, the place differential potential here is sky high and Dillon should be good for at least a top 20 finish on Sunday, if not better.
Daniel Hemric ($7,100) – Chalk Play #2. The thing about Daniel Hemric, though, is that I would have considered playing him even if he didn’t start in the back. This #8 team is really running well as of late, and even though a few of the recent finishes don’t show it, Hemric still has nine finishes of 19th or better in the last fourteen races, including that very impressive 7th-place finish at Pocono a couple of weeks ago. As far as Michigan goes, Daniel started 11th and finished 12th the last time we were here, and you can add in a 7th-place finish in Stage 2 there as well. At Fontana, Hemric had a 10th-place finish in Stage 1 but ultimately finished 33rd when the checkered flag flew.