For the second straight day, the NASCAR Cup Series will take on Michigan International Speedway, a two-mile, D-shaped oval with a very smooth surface.
Because Michigan was repaved back in 2012, its track surface results in very little tire wear, opening the door for crew chiefs to gamble on pit strategy in order to steal the always important track position.
Kevin Harvick won in an overtime finish after putting on a dominating performance in the first Michigan race. Harvick led 92 of the 161 laps en route to his fifth win of the year. His eighth-straight top-five finishes are a series high, and Harvick is poised to make another run at a second Cup championship.
Today’s starting lineup gets a bit of a shake-up, thanks to the top-20 inversion. Chris Buescher will be on the pole, with Clint Bowyer, Tyler Reddick, Matt Kenseth and Aric Almirola rounding out the top five.
With several drivers suffering problems in the first race, slower cars starting up front, and only 156 laps scheduled, this race could be more about place differential than domination. As such, I’ll just be giving my top plays across the board, instead of dominator picks.
NASCAR at Michigan DraftKings DFS Picks
Kevin Harvick ($11,500) – Harvick is a fine play, but I want to talk about the caveats here. There are downsides to playing Harvick. He’ll be highly-owned, and with him unlikely to dominate a large portion of the race, he’ll need to have a solid finish to justify playing him. There are so many ways it could go sideways for Harvick. Other teams could learn from yesterday’s race and catch up to him, he could run into trouble on track or on pit road, he may get caught out on strategy, or a late-race caution could work against him. There are reasons to go underweight here and look elsewhere to a better combination of ownership, price and performance potential.
Ryan Blaney ($9900) – Speaking of price, performance and ownership, Blaney checks two of the three here. He’s a massive discount to Harvick and been one of the quickest cars all year. That could inflate his ownership, but I’d much rather have more exposure to Blaney than to Harvick given the circumstances. He’ll roll off 17th, and has top-five potential.
Joey Logano ($10,200) – This is a tournament-only play, and a risky one at that. However, I think Logano probably burned people that counted on him leading laps yesterday, and with so many big names starting behind him, his ownership could be really low. However, everything I said yesterday about Logano still applies. Additionally, his teammates Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski, both had top-four average green-flag speeds. Maybe Logano’s No. 22 team will borrow a few notes from their teammates, and run better in race two.
Austin Dillon ($6500) – I liked Dillon for the first race, and now he’s cheaper and starts even further back. Dillon is probably the chalkiest play on the slate, and is a lock in cash formats. He also should be highly owned in tournament formats, and I don’t mind if you have upward of 70% exposure to him in a multi-entry portfolio.
Cole Custer ($7500) – Custer had an average running position of 18th and an average green-flag speed of 16th in the opener. At such a big and wide track, aerodynamics and horsepower are king, and having that Stewart-Haas equipment will likely give Custer another top-20 car. Custer is a cash game lock, but you should have less exposure to him than you do Dillon in tournaments.
Alex Bowman ($8400) – Bowman is priced down compared to how he ran in the first race. He was hanging inside the top 10 for most of the race, and had two 10th-place finishes last year at Michigan. A top-10 would certainly put him in contention for the winning lineup at his price tag, especially if dominator points are spread out.