Yahoo Fantasy racing cheat sheet: Rankings for Michigan International Speedway

 

Kevin Harvick has won three poles in 2017. (Getty)

Special to Yahoo Sports
By Dan Beaver

Michigan International Speedway has become one of NASCAR’s more predictable courses. Last year, an incredible four drivers swept the top five with another couple doubling down in regard to top-10s and several with sweeps of the top 15. Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski, and Kevin Harvick set themselves apart from the competition in 2016 on this two-mile track and there was little from Auto Club Speedway earlier this year to change anyone’s opinion.

1. Chase Elliott: Don’t be surprised if Elliott wins his first race of the season on the heels of Ryan Blaney’s victory last week at Pocono. Elliott finished second in both 2016 Michigan races.

2. Kyle Larson: With a victory in last August’s Pure Michigan 400 and another in the fall in the Auto Club 400, Larson is one of this week’s favorites. He finished third in last year’s FireKeepers Casino 400.

3. Kevin Harvick: Before slipping to 13th at Auto Club this spring, Harvick had seven second-place finishes and another pair of top-fives in his last seven races on two-mile tracks.

4. Brad Keselowski: Along with his teammate Joey Logano, Keselowski has the longest active top-10 streak on the two-mile tracks combined with nine consecutive.

5. Martin Truex Jr.: Three of the last six attempts on two-mile tracks ended in top-fives for Truex, but the remaining three landed outside the top 10.

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6. Jamie McMurray: Failed brakes at Pocono sent McMurray into the wall and snapped a seven-race, top-15 streak this season, but McMurray should be back with the leaders at Michigan. He has finished 16th or better in his last six races on two-mile tracks.

7. Matt Kenseth: When Joe Gibbs Racing finally breaks into Victory Lane with any of their drivers, they are liable to record a bunch of wins. Kenseth is good on this track type, but he is trending toward high single-digit runs this year.

8. Joey Logano: Since NASCAR announced that Logano’s Richmond win was encumbered, he has failed to finish in the top 20 a single time. He should be able to rebound at Michigan, where he has nine consecutive top-10s.

9. Daniel Suarez: It is not completely out of the question that Suarez could sneak into Victory Lane this week and if he misses, a top-10 could still be in the cards.

10. Denny Hamlin: Place-differential points play a role in some fantasy games. Hamlin has lost them in five of his last six races on two-mile tracks.

11. Erik Jones: Last week, Jones earned his first top-five in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Many more will come and tracks like the two-mile Michigan International Speedway are going to be kind to him.

12. Ryan Blaney: All it takes to turn a season around sometimes is to win. Blaney passed Kyle Busch late and held off Kevin Harvick at Pocono to win his career-first Cup trophy.

13. Kurt BuschIt can be a difficult task handicapping Busch. He won the 2015 Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan, but has scored only one top-10 on the two-mile tracks since.

14. Trevor Bayne: Two-mile tracks are usually good to Roush-Fenway Racing and if their resurgence is complete, both Bayne and Stenhouse could record top-10s.

15. Austin Dillon: Four of his last five races at Michigan and Auto Club combined ended in results of 16th or better. Dillon is a good mid-range pick this week in most fantasy games.

16. Kyle Busch: He won the 2014 Auto Club 400, but Busch has scored only one more top-10 on a two-mile track since then. That is outbalanced by five results of 25th or worse.

17. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: If not for an accident at Dover, Stenhouse would likely enter the FireKeepers Casino 400 with a nine-race, top-15 streak. Michigan has been kind to Roushketeers in the past.

18. Ty Dillon: With so many rookies and sophomores in the field this season, one has to look at recent races for an accurate handicap. Dillon has four results of 13th through 18th in his last five attempts.

19. Ryan Newman: If the last three races this season are an indication, Newman is getting his consistency back and that suggests a finish in the mid-teens.

20. Paul Menard: With 13 straight results of 18th or better on two-mile tracks, much more was expected of Menard at Auto Club this spring. He fell two laps off the pace there and finished 28th.

21. Jimmie Johnson: Win #84 could be right around the corner, but Johnson is going to show some inconsistency along the way and be difficult to handicap.

22. Kasey Kahne: While he has not scored a top-10 on a two-mile track since 2014, all but one of his last eight starts ended in top-20s.

23. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Last week, Earnhardt was confused as to why he kept missing shifts at Pocono. Could it be a lingering effect from his multiple concussions?

24. Chris Buescher: At his level, Buescher has been one of the top values with results of 15th through 23rd in his last six Cup races.

25. Danica Patrick: With the exception of an accident in the 2016 Auto Club 400, Patrick has never finished worse than 26th on this track type. Her best effort on the two-milers netted a 13th in June 2013 at Michigan.

26. Michael McDowell: This team does not get the attention they deserve, but three top-20s and a 24th at Pocono last week make them one of the best bargains in salary cap games.

27. Darrell Wallace Jr.:  While his debut was less than spectacular in the final rundown, it was a series of mistakes in the pits and not a lack of speed that contributed to a 26th for Wallace in the Axalta 400.

28. Clint Bowyer: Crash damage and a vibration are two reasons that Bowyer has not scored a top-20 in his last three Michigan starts. If he stays out of trouble, he could perform better than he’s ranked.

29. AJ Allmendinger: There is a lot of potential in the JTG-Daugherty Racing organization, but while expanding to two cars helped teammate Chris Buescher, it has hurt Allmendinger in recent attempts.

30. Cole Whitt: The first four races for Whitt on two-mile tracks ended in three top-25s and that is not bad for a driver with his level of experience.

31. Landon Cassill: The past six races this season have been consistent for Cassill and point toward another finish on the cusp of 30th.

32. Reed Sorenson: Three results in the low- to mid-30s in Sorenson’s last three efforts on two-mile tracks show consistency but does not make him fantasy relevant.

33. David Ragan: He hasn’t been on the lead lap at the checkers in his last three tries, but Ragan finished better than he started in the last six.

34. Corey LaJoie: He started 30th and finished 30th at Auto Club this spring, but in the six races that followed LaJoie has earned positive place-differential points in all but one event.

35. Gray Gaulding: There is not much to evaluate when handicapping Gaulding. He crashed and failed to finish in his only two-mile track race this spring at Auto Club.

36. Jeffrey Earnhardt: In four previous races on two-mile tracks, Earnhardt has failed to finish twice. Even when he makes it to the end, he is likely to be in the mid-30s.

37. Matt DiBenedetto: One of the top dark horse choices early this season, DiBenedetto has fallen on hard times recently. He has only one top-25 in his last six Cup attempts.

For more analysis, go to DanBeaver.com or follow him on Twitter