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ADAM ANSELL'S TOP 25 FOR MICHIGAN
1. Carl Edwards: Edwards finished 12th last weekend at Watkins Glen. In 14 starts at Michigan International Speedway, Edwards has two wins (2007, 2008), nine Top Fives and 12 Top 10s with an Average Finish of 6.2. He finished fifth in the June event and led 30 laps. Overall, he's led at least one lap in nine starts. He's started inside the Top Four on the grid once. Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, Edwards leads all competitors in Driver Rating (110.8), Average Running Position (8.0), Laps in the Top 15 (2,276), Average Green Flag Speed (174.152 mph) and Quality Passes (691). He's tied for the Series-points lead and has been a consistent Fantasy option all season. There is no other option that has as much upside and that is as safe as Edwards. Start him in all Tiered/Grouping formats.
2. Jimmie Johnson: Johnson finished 10th at The Glen, and has led at least one lap in three of his last four Cup starts. In 19 starts at MIS, Johnson has two Top Fives and seven Top 10s with an Average Finish of 15.8. He's led at least 12 laps in seven of his last nine starts. He's started inside the Top Four on the grid nine times. Johnson ranks third in DR (105.3) and in ARP (10.1). He leads all drivers in Laps Led (443) and Fastest Laps Run (259). Michigan is one of four active tracks Johnson has not recorded a victory (the others: Watkins Glen, Chicagoland, Homestead). He's had fuel mileage issues at MIS in the past, but remains a top-Fantasy play in all formats.
3. Kyle Busch: Busch finished third at Watkins Glen last week. He's logged one win (Kentucky), three Top Fives and four Top 10s in his last five Cup starts, good enough for the co-lead in the standings. In 13 starts at Michigan, Busch has two Top Fives and four Top 10s with an Average Finish of 16.6. He finished third and led 59 laps in the June event. He's led at least three laps in seven starts. He's started inside the Top Four on the grid four times. Busch ranks 11th in DR (93.3) and 10th in ARP (13.8). He held an ARP of 4.4 in the June event. He's a quality starter and will come with some added value in Tiered/Grouping formats.
4. Kurt Busch: Busch's miserable outing at The Glen (38th-place) can be totally ignored by Fantasy owners. Prior to last weekend, he led at last six laps in nine of 10 Cup starts. In 21 Michigan starts, Busch has two wins (2003, 2007), three Top Fives, eight Top 10s and two poles with an Average Finish of 20th. He started from the pole, finished 11th and led nine laps in the June event. He's led at least one lap in 12 starts. He's started inside the Top Four on the grid three times. Busch ranks seventh in DR (96.5) and ninth in ARP (13.5). He'll pick up right where he left off and produce a quality day at Michigan.
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: As much as it feels like Earnhardt Jr. has fallen off the radar, he sits ninth in the Cup standings and has been consistently mediocre over his last six starts. In 24 Michigan starts, Earnhardt Jr. has one win (2008), four Top Fives, eight Top 10s and two poles with an Average Finish of 15.9. He's led at least one lap in eight of his last 12 starts. He's started inside the Top Four on the grid seven times. Earnhardt Jr. ranks eighth in DR (94.5) and in ARP (12.9). He'll probably need a win to secure a spot in the Chase. The thing is it's been 115 races since he last won - his last being at MIS.
6. Matt Kenseth: Kenseth finished 14th at Watkins Glen, but has been consistent enough up until this point to occupy the fifth spot in the standings. In 24 starts at Michigan, Kenseth has two wins (2002, 2006), 11 Top Fives and 15 Top 10s with an Average Finish of 9.5. He finished second and led 17 laps in the June event. He's led at least two laps in three of his last four starts. He's started inside the Top Four on the grid twice. Kenseth ranks fourth in DR (103.5) and fifth in ARP (11.2). He has back-to-back Top Fives at Michigan and should be a lock for a Top 10 finish.
7. Jeff Gordon: Gordon finished 13th at The Glen, his seventh consecutive Top 15 finish. In 37 MIS starts, Gordon has two wins (1998, 2001), 18 Top Fives, 23 Top 10s and five poles with an Average Finish of 11.6. He's led at least one lap in 22 starts. He's started inside the Top Four on the grid 12 times. Gordon ranks ninth in DR (94.4) and seventh in ARP (12.7). Fantasy owners opting to roll with him know exactly what they're going to get - minimal risk and a ton of upside.
8. Brad Keselowski: The Michigan native has back-to-back Top Two finishes and jumped up four spots in the Cup standings. Not to mention he leads the wild-card race with two wins (Kansas, Pocono). In four starts at Michigan, Keselowski has an Average Finish of 27.5. His best start at MIS is 12th and his best finish is 24th (2009). Keselowski ranks 31st in DR (57.9) and 30th in ARP (24.7). He has six Top 15s in his last seven Cup starts and is morphing into a reliable weekly option. Get on his bandwagon while he's still considered a sleeper. That status won't last much longer.
9. Ryan Newman: Newman has one win (Loudon) and three Top Fives in his last five Cup starts. In 20 starts at Michigan, Newman has two wins (2003, 2004), four Top Fives, five Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish of 18.9. He finished sixth and led three laps in the June event. He's started inside the Top Four on the grid five times. Newman ranks 20th in DR (73.4) and 21st in ARP (20.4). He's a solid Tiered/Grouping format option.
10. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin has an Average Finish of 26th in his last three Cup starts and is clinging to the final wild-card spot. In 11 starts at MIS, Hamlin has two wins (2010, 2011), five Top Fives and seven Top 10s with an Average Finish of 10th. He started 10th and led eight laps en route to his June win. He's led at least one lap in each of his last five starts. Hamlin ranks fifth in DR (99.1) and fourth in ARP (11.0). He's a feast-or-famine type pick this weekend because of his season-long inconsistencies. Proceed with caution.
11. Mark Martin: Five wins (1990, 1993, 1997-98, 2009), 17 Top Fives and 30 Top 10s with an Average Finish of 13.5 in 51 starts at Michigan. 84.2 DR.
12. Tony Stewart: One win (2000), 10 Top Fives and 17 Top 10s with an Average Finish of 11.6 in 25 Michigan starts. 97.5 DR.
13. Greg Biffle: Two wins (2004-05), seven Top Fives and 10 Top 10s with an Average Finish of 12.4 in 17 MIS starts. 106.1 DR.
14. Kevin Harvick: One win (2010), three Top Fives and seven Top 10s with an Average Finish of 14.7 in 21 Michigan starts. 84.2 DR.
15. Kasey Kahne: One win (2006), six Top Fives and two poles with an Average Finish of 16th in 15 starts at Michigan. 86.7 DR.
16. Joey Logano: 79.5 DR.
17. Clint Bowyer: 76.5.
18. Juan Pablo Montoya: 70.2.
19. A.J. Allmendinger: 67.1.
20. David Ragan: 77.2.
21. Paul Menard
22. Martin Truex Jr.
23. Regan Smith
24. Jamie McMurray
25. Marcos Ambrose
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Adam was a 2010 Fantasy Sports Writers Awards Association nominee for Racing Writer of the Year. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him @RotoExpertsAA.
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