The Cup Series returns to Michigan International Speedway this weekend, and the fast, 2.0-mile oval offers drivers plenty of room to race. The track also offers fantasy owners an obvious favorite heading into the weekend. Greg Biffle is not only the defending winner of Sunday's Pure Michigan 400, but he is going for a three-peat at the track after winning the June event earlier this year. Biffle is a four-time winner at the track for his career, and in the last five races at MIS, no driver has led more laps or scored more points.
Truex to sneak into top 5?
It seems like Greg Biffle keeps benefiting from Jimmie Johnson's bad luck at Michigan. After qualifying third and pacing the field in Happy Hour, Johnson was poised to take the top spot in the final rankings. However, he wrecked late in the final practice and will go to a backup car, allowing Biffle to retain the No.1 spot. Biffle is gunning for a three-peat at MIS this weekend, and his win at the track last August and his win earlier this year both came at Johnson's expense. A blown motor dropped Johnson from the lead with less than 10 laps to go last year, and in the June race this season, a cut tire stopped his bid for the win with a couple of laps to go.
Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. also benefits from the five-time champ's misfortunes and moves up in the final rankings, cracking the top five on the strength of a top-10 qualifying effort and solid practice times. Not to mention the fact that his last two Cup Series wins have both come at Michigan, including a victory in June of 2012. Last August, Junior delivered a fourth-place run, and earlier this year, he was out front when he lost an engine. Outside of the restrictor plate tracks, Junior doesn't have a better track than Michigan. Fantasy owners should definitely take advantage of hos top-five potential this weekend, especially in survivor-type leagues.
One of the biggest movers heading into Sunday's race is Joey Logano. He vaults all the way into the top 10 thanks to a record-setting, pole-winning run to go along with some strong practice times. It is also worth noting that Logano has finished in the top 10 in both races at 2.0-miles track in 2013, nearly winning at Auto Club Speedway and finishing ninth at Michigan in June. Starting on the pole, don't be surprised if hangs near the front the entire afternoon.
Another big mover in the final rankings is Mark Martin. The veteran sneaks into the top 15 on the heels of a fourth-place effort in qualifying and a solid showing in Saturday's practices. Granted, Martin has finished outside the top 25 in his last three starts at Michigan, but he is a five-time winner at the track for his career with his most recent victory coming in 2009. He also finished in the top 10 in both races at the track in 2011 and led the most laps at the track last August before getting caught up in a bizarre wreck with a lap car while leading.
Meanwhile, fellow veteran Jeff Burton appears to be one of the better options for fantasy owners searching for a sleeper. He delivered a surprise top-five effort in qualifying, and he has posted respectable practice times throughout the weekend. Perhaps more importantly, Burton posted a top-10 finish at Michigan in June so he has already shown he has a setup that can get the job done at the track on race day. Burton lands in the top 20 of the final driver rankings, but it is very possible that he challenges for a top 10 Sunday.
Austin Dillon is another potential sleeper for fantasy owners. Driving for the injured Tony Stewart, Dillon cracked the top 15 in both practices Saturday, and he cracks the top 20 in the final rankings. He is also coming off an 11th-place finish at Michigan in June. Another top-15 finish is a definite possibility for the talented youngster.
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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