NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: The Irish Hills of Michigan

Boy, were the Fords strong last week at Richmond Raceway. It was a great feel-good win by Chris Buescher. I'm not so sure Ford has turned the corner, but we could very well see another resurgence this week. Ford Motor Company will be going for its eighth straight win at Michigan International Speedway (2018-2022). Will the Dearborn-based company keep its streak alive – the longest consecutive streak of wins by a manufacturer at the two-mile facility? Will RFK Racing go back-to-back with Buescher or with Michigan native Brad Keselowski in Victory Lane? Stay tuned.

This Week's Pick Strategy: Michigan is a super-fast and challenging track where veteran drivers tend to prevail. When doing your picks this week focus on those drivers who literally study the track and the fastest lines while reaching speeds around 200 mph. Drivers like Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, and Martin Truex Jr. fit this profile perfectly. And it certainly is an added plus if you happen to drive a Ford!
Active Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last Six Races):
By Race
Denny Hamlin - 6
All with 5 - Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott, and Kyle Busch 
Both with 4 -Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney
Includes two August races in 2020 and one each 2018-2022

By Track
Both with 7 - Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch
All with 6 - Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, and Ryan Blaney
Brad Keselowski - 5

Last Year's Pole Winner: Bubba Wallace
Last Year's Race Winner: Kevin Harvick

The Likely Suspects: My Michigan go-to drivers include Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, and Ryan Blaney.

My 2 Cents: This week's no-brainer pick is Kevin Harvick. My next picks are Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski, Erik Jones, and Bubba Wallace. I will round out my team with Ty Gibbs and Ryan Preece.

My Final Four: Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, and Ty Gibbs.
Second-Look Driver: This week’s second-look driver is Michigan's own Erik Jones. In 10 Cup Series starts, Erik's best finish is third. He has earned one Top 5 and two Top 10. In last year's race Erik finished in eighth, earned stage points and led five laps. Erik got married this week to dirt racer Holly Shelton. Perhaps those positive matrimonial vibes will bring him some luck at Michigan. Erik currently sits 28th in driver standings, but a win could change everything.

Points to Ponder:
  • The first starting position is the most prolific in the field, producing more winners (22) than any other starting position at Michigan International Speedway.
  • 22 of the 105 (20.9%) NASCAR Cup Series races at Michigan have been won from the pole or first starting position; the most recent win from the pole at Michigan was June 2019 (Joey Logano).
  • Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing leads the series in wins at Michigan with 13. The Wood Brothers Racing organization has the second-most series wins at Michigan with 11. 
  • Six of the 39 NASCAR Cup Series race winners at Michigan are active this weekend: Kevin Harvick with six wins, Joey Logano and Kyle Larson with three wins each, Denny Hamlin with two wins, and Ryan Blaney and Kyle Busch with one win each.
  • Kevin Harvick, tied with NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip for second-most all-time, leads all active drivers in runner-up finishes at Michigan with seven. He also leads all active series drivers in Top 5 finishes at Michigan with 16 as well as Top 10s at Michigan with 22. Kevin also leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in laps led at Michigan with 737 in 42 starts. 
  • Chase Elliott leads all active drivers in the series in average finishing position at Michigan with a 8.0 in 12 starts.
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your initial picks by 12:50 p.m. a.m. ET on Saturday, August 5th and your final by 2:30 p.m. ET on race day Sunday, August 6th.

Enjoy the race!
Carol D'Agostino has been playing Fantasy NASCAR for 16 years. She launched  NASCAR Fantasy Fusion for Skirts & Scuffs in October 2011. Each week, Carol pores through statistics and combs through her personal notebooks to arm fans with analysis and picking strategies that will leave their friends wondering how they got so smart. Carol also does race coverage for Skirts & Scuffs at Richmond Raceway and occasionally at her home track, Dover International Speedway. She is also part of the distinguished NASCAR Expert Picks panel at formerly called Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet.
When she isn’t wielding her fantasy-racing superpowers, you’ll find Carol hammering out a news release or creating a marketing strategy at a small niche public relations firm she founded called Purple Cat or executing downtown revitalization projects for a small town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: The Irish Hills of Michigan NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: The Irish Hills of Michigan Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Friday, August 04, 2023 Rating: 5