Speeds at Michigan International Speedway have been blazing fast all weekend, but Carl Edwards
has been on cruise control. After grabbing the pole for Sunday's Quicken Loans 400 Friday, he stayed near the top of the charts in practice Saturday. With a series-leading 8.2 average finish at the track and top-12 finishes in 15 of his 17 starts, Edwards was already one of the safest options available. Throw in the speed he has shown so far this weekend, and fantasy owners should definitely make room on their rosters for the two-time Michigan winner.
While Edwards makes the jump to the top of the rankings, Kasey Kahne slides up into the No. 2 spot. He qualified third for Sunday's race and showed plenty of speed on both the short and long runs in practice Saturday. Granted, he hasn't shown the consistency of Edwards, but he does have a win and three runner-up efforts among his seven top-five finishes at Michigan. Kahne appears to be headed for another strong finishes at Michigan Sunday, and fantasy owners will want to take advantage.
Owners may also want to take advantage of Kurt Busch. He has found his stride in recent weeks with four straight top-15s for Furniture Row Racing, and he moves into the top 10 in the final driver rankings thanks to the speed he has shown all weekend. Busch grabbed a spot on the front row during qualifying Friday, and he topped the charts during the opening practice Saturday. Busch is also a two-time winner at Michigan so he is more than capable of delivering another solid finish for fantasy owners this weekend.
Speaking of solid finishes, veteran Mark Martin lands in the top 15 of the final driver rankings and could make a safe addition to fantasy rosters this weekend. His qualifying effort left a lot to be desired, but Martin bounced back with top-five times in practice Saturday. He is also a five-time winner at Michigan, and he appeared on his way to No. 6 last August before his day came to an abrupt end when he spun in some oil put down by a lap car. Martin's car doesn't seem quite as dominant as it was last summer, but it seems fast enough to make a run at a top-10.
Although he isn't the biggest name, Paul Menard rockets into the top 15 of the final rankings and deserves to be considered for a roster spot this weekend. After qualifying fourth Friday, he was back in the top five during practice Saturday. Granted, his career numbers at Michigan aren't impressive, but both of his top-10s at the track have come in the past two years. Menard appears to have a car capable of delivering another solid finish this weekend, and while he probably won't carry a fantasy team, he could certainly be a nice complementary piece.
Dipping into the group of serious sleepers, Aric Almirola stands out as the most intriguing option. He will start fifth in Sunday's race after an excellent showing in qualifying, and he posted top-10 speeds in practice, as well. Almirola finished in the top 20 in his first-two career Cup starts at Michigan last year, and with a fast car and season's worth of experience under his belt, he could be a sneaky source for a top-15 finish this weekend.
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.
Don't miss these great reports....