Fantasy NASCAR rankings: Pure Michigan 400

by Brian Polking on August 18, 2012 @ 12:35:02 PDT

 


Greg Biffle

Michigan International Speedway hosted its first Cup Series event in 1975, and the first 33 races at the 2.0-mile track were won by drivers starting inside the top 10. In fact, 26 of the races during the stretch were won by a driver starting inside the top five. The trend began to change in the early 90s, and several drivers have gone to Victory Lane at MIS after starting outside the top 10. That being said, qualifying in the top half of the field is still recommended, and only seven drivers have ever won at the track after starting outside the top 20.

Looking at the starting grid, fantasy owners won't have to scroll too far down to find several strong options for Sunday's race. Mark Martin led the way, winning his first career pole at MIS. He won at the track in 2009 and has finished in the top 10 in two of his last three starts, including a fourth-place run last August. He may not be the favorite to win, but he can certainly be a solid addition to any fantasy roster.

Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne rounded out the top five, and there is a good chance the winner could come from this group. Edwards is a two-time winner at the track and leads all drivers with an 8.4 average finish, while Johnson has finished second and fifth in his last two starts at MIS and enters the race as one of the hottest drivers in the series. Kenseth is a former winner and has four straight top-10s at Michigan. Kahne is a former winner, as well, and has finished second on three other occasions.

Lurking outside the top 10 are Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle. Biffle is a two-time winner at Michigan, and he finished a strong fourth at the track in June. Stewart, on the other hand, finished second at MIS in June and has been one of the most consistent drivers in the series at the track. "Smoke" has five straight top-10s at Michigan and has an 8.0 average finish in his last 10 starts at the track.

Dropping outside the top 20, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch are two drivers that could power their way to the front. Junior led 95 of the 200 laps in the June race earlier this season, and he is going for a season sweep after powering away from the field in the final laps to snap a four-year winless drought. Busch is the defending winner of this weekend's race, and he has finished third or better in two of his last three Michigan starts.

Fantasy owners looking for a sleeper pick may want to consider Trevor Bayne and Landon Cassill. Bayne qualified sixth, and he was running in the top 10 in the June event at Michigan before losing an engine. Meanwhile, Cassill qualified ninth, and MIS has easily been his best track in his young Cup Series career. He has finished in the top 20 twice in his last three starts, including a 12th-place effort in 2010.

Rk
Driver
Car No.
Make Plinker Team
Starting Pos
1
Greg Biffle
16
Ford 3M Roush Fenway Racing
13
2
Matt Kenseth
17
Ford Best Buy Roush Fenway Racing
4
3
Jimmie Johnson
48
Chevrolet Lowe's Home Improvement Hendrick Motorsports
3
4
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
88
Chevrolet Mountain Dew AMP Energy Hendrick Motorsports
22
5
Kasey Kahne
5
Chevrolet Farmers Insurance Hendrick Motorsports
5
6
Tony Stewart
14
Chevrolet Office Depot Stewart-Haas Racing
14
7
Carl Edwards
99
Ford Subway Roush Fenway Racing
2
8
Brad Keselowski
2
Dodge Miller Lite Penske Championship Racing
19
9
Kyle Busch
18
Toyota M&M's Joe Gibbs Racing
23
10
Mark Martin
55
Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine Michael Waltrip Racing
1
11
Denny Hamlin
11
Toyota FedEx Joe Gibbs Racing
21
12
Clint Bowyer
15
Toyota 5 Hour Energy Michael Waltrip Racing
12
13
Jeff Gordon
24
Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger Hendrick Motorsports
11
14
Martin Truex Jr.
56
Toyota NAPA Auto Parts Michael Waltrip Racing
7
15
Kevin Harvick
29
Chevrolet Budweiser Richard Childress Racing
20
16
Marcos Ambrose
9
Ford Stanley Black & Decker Richard Petty Motorsports
8
17
Joey Logano
20
Toyota Home Depot Joe Gibbs Racing
16
18
Ryan Newman
39
Chevrolet U.S. Army Stewart-Haas Racing
15
19
Sam Hornish Jr.
22
Dodge Shell/Pennzoil Penske Championship Racing
17
20
Regan Smith
78
Chevrolet Furniture Row Furniture Row Racing
18
21
Paul Menard
27
Chevrolet Menard's Richard Childress Racing
10
22
Jeff Burton
31
Chevrolet Caterpillar Richard Childress Racing
32
23
Trevor Bayne
21
Ford Motorcraft Wood Brothers Racing
6
24
Juan Pablo Montoya
42
Chevrolet Clorox Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing
25
25
Jamie McMurray
1
Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing
24
26
Kurt Busch
51
Chevrolet Tag Heuer Phoenix Racing
26
27
Aric Almirola
43
Ford Medallion Financial Richard Petty Motorsports
41
28
Landon Cassill
83
Toyota Burger King BK Racing
9
29
Bobby Labonte
47
Toyota Kingsford JTG Daugherty Racing
28
30
David Ragan
34
Ford 8-Hour Alert Front Row Motorsports
37
31
David Reutimann
10
Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing Tommy Baldwin Racing
39
32
Casey Mears
13
Ford GEICO Germain Racing
29
33
David Gilliland
38
Ford MHP Front Row Motorsports
36
34
Dave Blaney
36
Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing Tommy Baldwin Racing
42
35
David Stremme
30
Toyota Inception Motorsports Inception Motorsports
31
36
T.J. Bell
32
Ford C&J Energy FAS Lane Racing
40
37
Reed Sorenson
91
Toyota Humphrey Smith Racing Humphrey Smith Racing
27
38
Mike Skinner
98
Ford TRAQM.com Phil Parsons Racing
43
39
Travis Kvapil
93
Toyota Burger King BK Racing
30
40
Scott Riggs
23
Chevrolet North Texas Pipe R3 Motorsports
38
41
Josh Wise
26
Ford MDS Transport Front Row Motorsports
34
42
Jason Leffler
19
Toyota Plinker Tactical Humphrey Smith Racing
33
43
Joe Nemechek
87
Toyota AM FM Energy NEMCO Motorsports
35
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About Brian Polking

Racing has been part of Brian's life ever since he can remember, and he spent his childhood at dirt tracks throughout Ohio and Kentucky watching his father race. NASCAR naturally became his favorite sport, and he has been following the Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series for most of his life. Brian majored in journalism and economics at Ohio State University and becoming a sports writer has always been his dream. Although he has covered everything from minor league baseball to the NCAA tournament, his passion has always been NASCAR. Brian has served as a NASCAR writer for a variety of sites, eventually becoming head editor of the NASCAR section for Fanball.com. His knowledge of NASCAR comes from his life-long love of racing, and he tries to add a personal touch to every article he writes. Brian is always up for talking NASCAR with anyone that wants to. Brian joined KFFL's team in 2011.

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