Momentum has been building for Kurt Busch and his Furniture Row Racing team the past few weeks, and after four straight top-15s, something special could be on tap at Michigan Sunday. Following a second-place effort in qualifying Friday, Busch topped the charts in both practices at the track Saturday. He is also a two-time winner at Michigan, and Sunday's Quicken Loans 400 could mark his best chance to win a race since joining the No. 78 team. At the very least, Busch seems primed for a strong showing this weekend.
Pole-sitter Carl Edwards showed plenty of muscle in practice Saturday, as well. He cracked the top five in both sessions and had the second-fastest lap in the first practice. More importantly, Edwards is a two-time winner at MIS, and his 8.2 average finish is the best among active drivers. In fact, Edwards has finished outside the top 12 just twice in 17 starts at the track and has finished seventh or better 12 times. Owners will be hard pressed to find a safer option this weekend.
Owners willing to sacrifice a little bit of consistency for a chance at a win may want to consider Kasey Kahne. After ranking sixth on the charts in the first practice, he jumped to second in Happy Hour. He also posted the best 10-lap average speed in both sessions. Meanwhile, Kahne is a former winner at MIS and has three second-place finishes among his seven top-five efforts so he is no stranger to finishing near the front at the track. Granted, he has also had some bad runs over the years, but his upside is tough to ignore.
Kahne's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson was also impressive in practice, and even though Michigan is one of the few tracks where the five-time champ has never won, he still deserves heavy consideration from fantasy owners. Johnson ranked third and fourth in the two sessions Saturday, and he posted the second-best 10-lap average speed in both practices. Not to mention the fact that Johnson has led the most laps at Michigan on multiple occasions only to come out on the losing end up fuel mileage, and he has two top-five finishes in his last three starts at the track. Johnson is still an excellent option this weekend, and it is only a matter of time before he gets to victory lane.
While Johnson has never won at Michigan, Mark Martin has accomplished feat five times in his career. He also cracked the top five in both practices Saturday so win No. 6 at the track could come as soon as this weekend. Keep in mind that Martin led the most laps at the track last August before oil put down by a lap car ruined his afternoon, and in 2011 he finished fourth and ninth in two starts at MIS. At the very least, he should be able to provide owners with a solid finish this weekend, and given his practice times, Martin also offers top-five potential. The veteran is definitely worth making room for on fantasy rosters.
Another driver with a history of success at Michigan that delivered in practice was Greg Biffle. He ranked seventh and ninth in the two sessions Saturday, and his overall numbers at the track speak for themselves. He finished fourth and first in his two starts at MIS in 2012, and he is a three-time winner at the track for his career. Biffle has also scored the second-most points in the series in the last four races at 2.0-mile tracks so fantasy owners can feel free to consider him a top-five option this weekend.
With his recent results at Michigan and his practice times Saturday, defending series champ Brad Keselowski is a borderline top-five fantasy option, as well. He has a 6.0 average finish in his last three starts at the track, including a pair of top-three efforts. Meanwhile, he ranked 11th and 10th in the two practice sessions and was very happy with the feel of his car when he was interviewed prior to Happy Hour.
Last but not least, fantasy owners looking for a sleeper option this weekend may want to consider Paul Menard. After a fourth-place effort in qualifying Friday, he posted the fourth-fastest lap in the first practice Saturday and was seventh in Happy Hour. Granted, his 22.1 average finish at MIS isn't exactly encouraging, but both of his top-10s at the track have come in the last four races. Throw in the practice times, and a top-15 finish isn't unreasonable, and a top-10 isn't out of the question.
Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)
Happy Hour 10-Lap Average Speeds (must run 10 consecutive laps)
Second Practice Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)
10-Lap Average Speeds (must run 10 consecutive laps)