Loading scores...
Kyle Busch
Getty Images
NASCAR Fantasy Live Preview

Fantasy Live: Consumers Energy 400

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: August 6, 2019, 12:56 pm ET

There are four races remaining in the regular season and allocation management continues to be critical. This week’s Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan International Speedway may just be the most important event of them all.

The marquee drivers are typically good on every track type, but with the predominance of the similarly-configured, 1.5- and 2-mile tracks teams put the lion’s share of their resources into going fast on them. The drivers with sweeps of top-10s (or virtual sweeps) on 2-mile tracks are all ones for whom players are undoubtedly down to their final allocations.

Now is a good time to use on one of these drivers if you have two of more allocations, but if you are down to one then it is going to be important to think about the next three weekends.

After Michigan the series rolls onto the bullring of Bristol Motor Speedway that rewards aggression. From there it’s the Too Tough To Tame Darlington Raceway that rewards patience and then the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where strategy will play a key role.


Michigan and Auto Club Speedway are close comparatives and the favorites will come from there. But if a player only looks at the 2-milers, one is liable to miss some dark horses and may just exhaust all of the marquee drivers in one fell swoop.

Still, it is our responsibility to showcase drivers we know are going to be strong:

Kyle Busch
It would be Fantasy Malpractice to fail to highlight Busch on the 2-mile tracks because he currently has a five-race streak of top-fives that includes a victory at Auto Club this March. Before that, he had three consecutive top-10s on 2-milers which gives him the longest active streak in the field. Busch will also be highly valued next week at Bristol, but danger lurks around every turn of that bullring so if you have only one start remaining, it should come this week.

Kevin Harvick
Harvick has also been stout on the 2-mile tracks, but he struggled for a bit in the past three seasons. In 2017 he failed to earn a single top-10 and in the 2018 race at Auto Club he sustained crash damage and finished 35th—ending a three-race streak of victories. Since then he has finished seventh or better in the last four races. Before that rough patch he had seven top-fives in eight events on this track type.

Joey Logano
Logano needs to rebound after last week’s fiasco at Watkins Glen International. He couldn't come to a better place. Since joining Team Penske in 2013 he has finished outside the top 10 only twice in 20 starts on 2-mile tracks. He dominated and won from the pole in this year’s Firekeepers Casino 400 – and he has two other wins from the pole at Michigan in 2013 and 2016. Keep an eye on him and if he wins the pole this week, go all in with an allocation and selections as the Stage 1 & 2 winner.

Kyle Larson
This was once a great place for Larson. From 2016 through 2018, he scored four consecutive victories at Michigan and Auto Club and posted another pair of top-fives for a six-race streak. After that, his results fell off considerably and he has not scored a top-10 in his last four efforts. The reason to go out on a limb for him this week is because he has turned his fortune around in recent weeks and even ran well on the road course of Watkins Glen despite a generally lackluster record there. Just make sure you are ready to swap him out for your garage driver if he runs afoul of Fate again.

Value Pick

Ryan Blaney
Blaney has become one of the top picks on a weekly basis, but his overall record is still uneven enough to make a lot of fantasy players nervous. He has outperformed Logano and Brad Keselowski more often than not in the past month, however, and he will have access to some of their notes and experience on this track type. That could make the difference between a top-10 and top-five. In the last two seasons on 2-mile tracks, Blaney has a worst finish of ninth and an average of seventh.

Garage Pick

Kurt Busch
Busch rarely has to back sub-par races in a row and so far this season he has not gone three consecutive weeks without a top-15. “But he finished 10th at the Glen,” you say – and that would indicate this statistic is not relevant. That’s true, but the road courses behave by a different set of rules – it can be lifted out when necessary – and Busch’s troubles at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway are the stats that catch our eye. How much stock do we put in that prediction? Well, he is a garage pick after all. Still Busch’s second-place finish in the Firekeepers Casino 400 is his second top-five in the last three Michigan races. He finished sixth in the other event.

Red Flag

Erik Jones
Erik Jones has more momentum on his side than anyone except teammate Denny Hamlin and can easily defy this prediction. Still, if one needs to rest him for a week, Michigan is good place to do so because he has only one top-10 in five races. He has only one truly bad finish: a 31st this June after he sustained crash damage and lost four laps. That is countered by a third in 2017, The bulk of his results are in the teens. That is a far cry from the top-fives he has earned in the last four weeks of this season.

 

Segment wins and points at Michigan
(10 segments to date)

Driver

Segment
Points

Segments
earning
points

Segment
Wins

Kevin Harvick

68

8

3

Martin Truex Jr.

56

7

3

Kyle Busch

52

8

 

Kurt Busch

42

7

 

Ryan Blaney

40

6

1

Kyle Larson

36

7

 

Brad Keselowski

34

8

1

Clint Bowyer

32

5

 

Joey Logano

24

5

1

Denny Hamlin

24

6

 

Erik Jones

23

4

 

Aric Almirola

21

5

 

Matt Kenseth

17

3

 

Austin Dillon

16

2

1

Chase Elliott

16

4

 

Alex Bowman

12

3

 

Paul Menard

8

2

 

William Byron

7

3

 

Jamie McMurray

7

2

 

Daniel Suarez

6

1

 

Daniel Hemric

4

1

 

Ryan Newman

3

1

 

Chris Buescher

1

1

 

Jimmie Johnson

1

1

 

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.