For the first time this season, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is headed to the “Wolverine State,” as drivers are set to compete in Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
The D-shaped track is one of just two 2-mile speedways on the schedule, the other being Auto Club Speedway of California, and is considered one of, if not the fastest track in NASCAR. The lack of a restrictor plate in this race often leads to extremely fast, action-packed racing. Predicting who will have success at Michigan can be difficult, which is where we come in.
Whether you need help picking an A-List driver who has a shot at winning, or an up-and-coming C-List racer who could help steal you some points, we’ve got you covered. Here are the drivers you should give seats to, and the ones you shouldn’t, for Sunday’s race:
Must pick: Chase Elliott
Drivers winning their first Cup races seems to be the theme of the season, and we think it’s Elliott’s turn to visit victory lane. The 21-year-old Hendrick Motorsports driver only has raced at Michigan twice in his career, and he finished second both times.
Elliott’s been a bit of a forgotten man in recent weeks, as some of NASCAR’s other young studs have stolen headlines. Still, he’s a very talented driver, and one who we expect to lead the field Sunday. If you want to save some of your Kyle Larson starts for later in the season, Elliott is your next best B-List option.
Stay away: Kyle Busch
Busch has had a bizarre season. He hasn’t won a race yet, but often has looked like one of the best drivers in the field. He’s usually a great fantasy option, but we’re looking at other A-List options this week.
In 24 races at Michigan, Busch has just one win and six top-10s. He’s always run OK at this track, but seldom has he looked great. Consider keeping him on your bench this weekend.
Sleeper pick: Denny Hamlin
After a miserable start to the season, Hamlin has been heating up recently. He’s finished in the top 12 in six of his last seven races, and currently sits 14th in the Cup standings.
Futhermore, he’s won twice in his career at Michigan, and finishes in the top 10 nearly half of the time. If you’re looking to save some of your A-List studs this weekend, take a chance on Hamlin.
Value pick: Daniel Suarez
Erik Jones has been the most talked about rookie driver, and rightfully so, but Suarez quietly is putting together a solid campaign in his first year in Cup. He’s finished in the top 15 in five of his last six races, and currently sits 20th in the standings.
He also finished seventh earlier this season at Auto Club Speedway, so he seems to be comfortable with 2-mile tracks. Start him with confidence this weekend.
Thumbnail photo via Matthew O’Haren/USA TODAY Sports Images