Following Tyler Reddick‘s win at the Indianapolis Road Course, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Michigan for the FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Let’s dive into the track information NASCAR DFS drivers need to know, what to expect for this weekend’s running of the FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan and some early NASCAR fantasy picks.
NASCAR DFS Preview: FireKeepers Casino 400
Michigan International Speedway Information
- Track: Michigan International Speedway
- Location: Brooklyn, Michigan
- Length: 2 miles (asphalt)
- Banking: 18 degrees in the turns, 12 degrees on the front stretch, five degrees on the back stretch
- Best corollary tracks: Auto Club Speedway
- Dominator Points:
- DraftKings: 50 – laps led, 90 – fastest laps
- FanDuel: 20 – laps led
- Past winners: Ryan Blaney (2021), Kevin Harvick (2020B, 2020A, 2019B), Joey Logano (2019A)
- Betting favorite: Chase Elliott +600
- Entry List: 37 drivers, including J.J. Yeley (15), Noah Gragson (16), Austin Hill (33), and Josh Bilicki (77)
- Weather: High of 83, mostly sunny
- Watch: USA
- Listen: MRN (MRN, NASCAR.com, NASCAR Sirius/XM Channel 90)
On Track Schedule (All Times Eastern)
- Saturday, August 6
- 12:35 p.m.: practice
- 1:20 p.m.: qualifying
- Sunday, August 7
- 3:00 p.m.: green flag (45/120/200 laps)
2022 FireKeepers Casino 400 NASCAR DFS Picks
2022 Points Standings
Tyler Reddick sealed the deal on Sunday, securing his second Cup victory of 2022, and now sits eighth in the points all but guaranteed a birth into the playoffs with that second win. In order to put himself into a position to grab this victory, he had to forego stage wins and the subsequent playoff points those garner. However, with two wins, he’s tied with Ross Chastain, Joey Logano, and William Byron for the second-most victories in the Cup Series this season and is no longer a risk to miss the playoffs despite his victory at Road America. Furthermore, with Reddick winning at Indianapolis, the storylines are slowly fading that would entail a driver with a win somehow missing the playoffs. With Michigan, Richmond, and Watkins Glen on the schedule before the regular season concludes at Daytona, the scenarios for a new 2022 winner are dissipating.
With these opportunities for a new winner, for this season, fading away the likelihood is increasing that both Ryan Blaney (+121) and Martin Truex Jr. (+96) will slide into the final two playoff spots for 2022. Michigan and Daytona, two of the final four races, were both events won by Blaney last season. Thus, Ryan Blaney shouldn’t be counted out as a potential factor at either race, and with no winners in the next three weeks, his points lead over Truex should all but guarantee him a spot. Truex’s playoff hopes are a little more complicated. With nearly a triple-digit gap over Kevin Harvick, and 156 points over Aric Almirola in 18th, it would take sheer catastrophe from Truex over the month of August to even make this points race competitive. However, what can’t be counted out is that even with no new winners over the next three weeks, it just takes one at Daytona to move him from a driver currently seated fourth in regular season points, with 2014 potential playoff points, to a driver relegated to the non-playoff field.
NASCAR Michigan International Speedway Preview
Dating back to the rain-shortened June race of 2018, Ford has won an astonishing seven-straight Cup races at Michigan, with four of those via Kevin Harvick alone. It could potentially be a Ford-related issue, but the chances that the Ford teams are all secretly sharing information among one another about Michigan seems unlikely. The fact is that Kevin Harvick/ Rodney Childers, and to a lesser degree the camp at Team Penske, have had a knack of late for winning these races – even if it’s just the last few final laps like last year’s race.
With the field set by the formula, Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott started atop the front row and went on to combine for the most laps led that afternoon. Elliott led his 70 laps mainly in two spurts, first in a 37-lap section from laps 27 to 63 and then another large portion (31 laps) from laps 80 to 110. Larson, on the other hand, led his 70 laps on multiple occasions throughout the race. Unlike previous races in that 2021 season, Larson wasn’t able to put a strangle on the lead. The last time Larson would lead the race was on lap 158 with 42 laps remaining.
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Intermingled throughout the race, and cautions for a competition caution, a James Davison spin, and rain were lead exchanges by Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch but neither of them led more than 13 laps. Late in the race, William Byron was well on his way to winning after taking the lead from Christopher Bell on lap 174, following the last pit cycle. However, the rain stopped the race momentarily on lap 181 grouping the field back together. Then, a multi-car wreck on lap 188 bunched the field back up again for the final restart. On this restart, Ryan Blaney, with a giant shove by Busch, stormed to the lead and was able to hold off both Byron and Larson for his first victory of 2021. Blaney had been in contention all day, hovering around the front with an average running position of 9.3. That final restart allowed him to go from a driver who finishes somewhere around fifth through 10th to victory lane.
Concluding Michigan Thoughts
Michigan only has one “true” corollary left on the calendar – the previously visited Auto Club Speedway, a fellow two-mile track. Even then, Auto Club’s abrasive surface can’t be a true comparison to Michigan which was repaved in 2012. However, with the 2022 changes in horsepower and aero, it can be argued that the discrepancies between a track like Michigan and the myriad of intermediate tracks (1.5-miles) have been narrowed. Thus, this season’s races at Las Vegas, Kansas, and Charlotte can be included, for research purposes, expanding the data set from one race to four.
Regardless of whether one considers the intermediate tracks as a corollary to this weekend or not, the fact remains that it has been a few months since a race has happened at anything close to Michigan. Considering how much the Series has evolved, as drivers and teams get acquainted with the Generation Seven car, there may be some folly in trying to attribute too much of what had happened in a race back in March or four races from March through May to what will transpire in the Irish Hills of Michigan. Saturday’s group practice sessions may spell more out about proper predictions for this race than any actual data from past races in 2022.
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