2019 FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway Fantasy Picks

Get your season-long Fantasy NASCAR lineups squared away using Brian Polking's top plays for the FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Oct 23, 2016; Talladega, AL, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Joey Logano (22) celebrates in victory lane after winning the Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports.

Michigan International Speedway is set to host Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400, and while it remains to be seen exactly what the two-mile oval has in store for drivers this weekend, I think we should be able to have a pretty successful weekend when it comes to our season-long Fantasy NASCAR leagues.

As has been the case all season, the big question mark heading into Sunday’s race is how much of a role the new rules package will play. Is this the week we finally see huge runs and slingshot passes? Well, we’ve already been to a two-mile track this year, Auto Club Speedway, and Kyle Busch dominated that race. Granted, Michigan and Auto Club aren’t identical, but I still think clean air will be a big benefit for drivers this weekend.

With that in mind, I loaded up my Fantasy Live lineup with drivers starting near the front. Of course, it helps that several big names qualified well, and I think these drivers will be able to hold on to their track position, especially in the early going, as long as they don’t make any mistakes. Stage points are huge in Fantasy Live, so targeting drivers who can pile up a lot of them is my No. 1 goal when building a lineup.

For the Driver Group Game, it worked out that I used a similar strategy this weekend. Overall finishing position is the most important factor in this game, but I also think that many of the drivers best positioned for stage points are also likely to deliver strong finishes. I feel like I’m killing two birds with one stone.

The Slingshot game proved to be more of a challenge. Place differential points carry a lot of weight in this contest, and with several big names starting deeper in the field, there was no shortage of appealing options. In the end, I went with a combination of some of these big names as well one of the drivers starting up front who I feel can win the race and pile up stage points. I’m hoping to grab a big piece of all the scoring categories and pile up a big score.

Check out all of my season-long Fantasy NASCAR picks for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan, and make sure to get all of your lineups submitted before the green flag waves.

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NASCAR.com Fantasy Live

Joey Logano

He has a pretty good track record at Michigan since joining Team Penske, finishing in the Top 10 in 11 of his 12 starts and picking up a couple of wins. I also like the Logano had one of the best cars at Auto Club Speedway back earlier this year, finishing second and fourth in the two stages on his way to a runner-up finish. After he grabbed the pole, Logano could end up earning the most stage points of any driver this weekend.

Brad Keselowski

With eight Top 10s in the last 10 races at Michigan, it is safe to say that Keselowski knows his way around this place. Last year, he earned points in all four stages across both races, finishing sixth in the spring race and second in August. Perhaps more importantly, Keselowski has been locked in with the 2019 rules package at the larger ovals. He led 42 laps and finished third at Auto Club in March, and he finished either first or second at Atlanta, Las Vegas, Kansas and Pocono. From a Top 10 starting spot, pencil him in for another big performance.

Ryan Blaney

I’m going to go ahead and complete the Team Penske stack, and how can you blame me? Blaney finished first and sixth in the two stages at Michigan last June on his way to an eighth-place finish, and he was third in both stages in the August race before finishing the Top 5. Blaney also finished in the Top 5 at Auto Club in March, finishing ninth and third in the two stages. Starting 13th, he should be able to get into the Top 10 in short order. I’m expecting plenty of stage points out of him Sunday.

Aric Almirola

Most weeks, Almirola’s safe floor is his biggest selling point. I still love how he always seems to end up around the Top 10, but I have higher expectations this weekend. Almirola showed elite speed on longer runs during practice, and then he went out and claimed a spot on the front row. A solid finish was already likely, and now he is positioned for a bunch of stage points.

Clint Bowyer

Bowyer is the defending winner of this weekend’s race, and although he did steal the win a bit by using pit strategy in a rain-shortened race, he still had an excellent car. He finished third and second, respectively, in the two stages in that race, and he would end up finishing seventh or better in three of the four stages at MIS last year. Bowyer has also been strong at the bigger tracks in 2019, and four of his five Top 5s have come at tracks that are a mile and a half or larger. Starting in the Top 5, the stage points could come in bunches again Sunday.

Garage Driver – Kevin Harvick

I am down to just three starts for Harvick, so in an ideal world, my five starters will run well enough for me to leave him on the bench. That being said, I think he may be the man to beat Sunday, and if he ends up winning the first two stages, why not put him in? After all, maximum points is the best I am going to do out of any driver, so it doesn’t really matter what track I get those points at. The bottom line is that I want Harvick available.

Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet Driver Group Game

Joey Logano (A)

It came down to Logano or Brad Keselowski, and while both drivers have amazing resumes at Michigan, I’ll take my chances with Logano from the pole. He has finished in the Top 10 in 11 of his 12 starts at Michigan with Team Penske, picking up a pair of wins, and he was the runner-up at Auto Club back in March. I expect Logano to have at both the stage wins and the race win Sunday.

Aric Almirola (B)

I normally view Almirola as a safety net, but he looks poised for more than just a solid finish this weekend. He had the best speed on longer runs in practice Friday, and he went out and qualified on the front row. Almirola appears to be a threat for the win, and at the very least, I like his chances of earning some serious stage points and finishing in the Top 10.

Clint Bowyer (B)

Bowyer is the defending winner of this weekend’s race, and he followed up a strong set of practices by qualifying in the Top 5. He has also shown speed at the bigger ovals this year, picking up four of his five Top 5s at track that are a mile and a half in length or bigger. Bowyer offers Top 5 upside and plenty of stage point potential this weekend.

Daniel Hemric (C)

I also have Buescher at my disposal, and while I think he still might end up with a better finish than Hemric, I have a hard time risking one of his starts when he qualified way back in 31st. On the flip side, Hemric qualified 11th, and I am hoping he can parlay the track position to a Top 20 effort.

Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Racing Online Slingshot Fantasy Auto

Kyle Busch ($13,000)

Busch has been a fantasy monster in pretty much every format that exists, and after he qualified 15th, I don’t see him slowing down in Slingshot on Sunday. He has the potential to win and pile up stage points every single week, and he crushed the competition at Auto Club back in March. With double-digit spots to gain, his ceiling is too high to pass up.

Kevin Harvick ($11,500)

I flirted with lineups that included Chase Elliott or Martin Truex Jr., but I decided to forgo the place differential upside that both offer in favor of Harvick’s potential for stage points and the race win. Harvick has been incredible at Michigan recently, and he looks fast again Sunday. Starting third, I could see him winning both stages and the race. I am going with the aggressive pick here.

Ryan Blaney ($10,600)

I thought long and hard about three-time Michigan winner Kyle Larson for this spot after he qualified 22nd, and while the numbers make sense, I just haven’t had any luck with him all year. I am going to go with my gut at take Blaney. He starts 13th, so he has a little place differential upside himself. He has also finished eighth and fifth in two starts at MIS with Team Penske, earning plenty of stage points in those starts. If he runs in and around the Top 5 all day, I think I’ll come out ahead. Alex Bowman and Erik Jones are a couple of other options to consider in this price range.

Chris Buescher ($7,700)

When Buescher starts deeper in the field, I have made it a habit of targeting him in this contest, and he rolls off 31st Sunday. He has an 18.9 average finish for the year, and he heads into Michigan on a streak of three straight Top 15s. Buescher also finished 16th at Auto Club in March. At the very least, I think he gains double-digit spots and sneaks into the Top 20.

Matt DiBenedetto ($6,000)

He’s struggled with consistency all year, but DiBenedetto has flashed Top 20 upside on occasion, and he finished 18th at Auto Club back in March. More importantly, he’s really cheap and starts back in 29th. As long as he keeps the car pointed in the right direction, he’s going to move forward.

Starting Lineup for the 2019 FireKeepers Casino 400

No. 1 Joey Logano
No. 2 Aric Almirola
No. 3 Kevin Harvick
No. 4 Denny Hamlin
No. 5 Clint Bowyer
No. 6 Paul Menard
No. 7 Kurt Busch
No. 8 Brad Keselowski
No. 9 Daniel Suarez
No. 10 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
No. 11 Daniel Hemric
No. 12 Austin Dillon
No. 13 Ryan Blaney
No. 14 Erik Jones
No. 15 Kyle Busch
No. 16 Martin Truex Jr.
No. 17 Chase Elliott
No. 18 Ryan Newman
No. 19 Jimmie Johnson
No. 20 Alex Bowman
No. 21 William Byron
No. 22 Kyle Larson
No. 23 Michael McDowell
No. 24 David Ragan
No. 25 Ty Dillon
No. 26 Matt Tifft
No. 27 Bubba Wallace
No. 28 Ryan Preece
No. 29 Matt DiBenedetto
No. 30 Landon Cassill
No. 31 Chris Buescher
No. 32 Corey LaJoie
No. 33 Kyle Weatherman
No. 34 Josh Bilicki
No. 35 Quin Houff
No. 36 Garrett Smithley

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