Loading scores...
Chris Buescher
Getty Images
Cap Considerations

Draft Kings: Consumers Energy 400

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: August 8, 2019, 1:44 pm ET

The second half of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup season is fully here as the series head back to tracks for the second time. In the case of Michigan International Speedway and the Consumers Energy 400, it is also the third time this year that we’ve visited a 2-mile track and Auto Club Speedway is about as close a comparative to Michigan as any two courses are to one another.

That is the good news.

The bad news is that Michigan is also one of the similarly-configured, 1.5- and 2-mile tracks – or alternately the unrestricted, intermediate speedways. These tracks make up well more than half of the schedule and as such the teams put the lion’s share of their energy into running fast on them. This year, there have been some incredible sleepers such as Daniel Hemric ($6,400 this week) with his 12th-place finish in the Firekeepers Casino 400 or Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($6,700) with a 14th at Auto Club. Those drivers can be difficult to identify, however, and the cream is mostly going to rise to the top.

When looking back at the past several seasons, there are some incredible streaks of top-10s that border on near perfection. As is often the case, this has not gone unnoticed by the cap manager at Draft Kings and success or failure is going to come from the selection you make in the middle price tiers.


Group A: Most Expensive (>=$10,000)

Kyle Busch ($12,400)
Yes, him again. Draft Kings keep making him more and more expensive, but Busch still has the best points per thousand ratios during the past 45 days at this level – even after suffering through a bad race last week at Watkins Glen. This is not the most expensive he has been; in fact, he has commanded a greater cost four other times. In every race in which he was this expensive or greater, he scored top-five points, however, including the most (116) at Auto Club when he demanded $200 more than this week.

Group B: (Between $9,900 and $8,500)

Denny Hamlin ($9,900) or Erik Jones ($8,500)
Neither of these drivers have a good enough recent record on 2-mile tracks to recommend them this week, but fantasy players need to constantly balance success at the current track with recent momentum. Jones and Hamlin did not get to the top of the chart below with anything less than stellar performances that have translated into four-race, top-five streaks for both of them.

Chances are that you will not be able to fit both into your salary cap matrix, but one of them should be on the roster. Hamlin earned the most points at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway. Jones had top-five earnings at Kentucky Speedway and the Glen.

Chase Elliott ($9,400)
No one started out with a better record than Elliott at Michigan. Finishing second there in three consecutive races and then earning three more top-10s, he never struggled – until this spring. We are at a loss to explain the 20th-place finish in the Firekeepers Casino 400. Elliott was coming off a five-race streak of top-fives in the previous five races and this should have been another opportunity to win. That sub-par performance kicked off a couple of months of disappointment, but now that he has won again we expect the floodgates to open once more.

Group C: (Between $8,300 and $7,300)

Kyle Larson ($8,300)
There is no reason for Larson to struggle on a 2-mile track. His first ever attempt at Auto Club ended in a second-place finish in 2014. And this is where we first expected him to elevate Chip Ganassi Racing to a championship contending organization based on his four consecutive victories and six straight top-threes from 2016 through 2018. He lost the handle for quite some time, however, and has not earned a top-10 in four races. Confidence has been returning in the past few weeks and now we expect another top-five from him.

Chris Buescher ($7,300)
From the most expensive driver at this level to the cheapest, our second third tier driver has shown consistency on the 2-milers even if he has rarely shown the kind of dominance we would like to see from a more expensive driver. Buescher finished 20th in last year’s edition of this race. He was 16th in both the Auto Club 400 and Firekeepers Casino 400. With a little luck, we believe he can crack the top 15. With a lot of luck he could get a top-10 like he had in the 2017 edition of this race; he was sixth that year. Buescher has one of the best points per thousand ratios on the chart below and that alone is a reason to consider him.

Group D: (Between $7,100 and $5,900)

Paul Menard ($6,900)
Many times fantasy players have to think in terms of potential in the lower ranges of Draft Kings’ salary caps. Place-differential points can play an important factor, but that prospect will not be known until qualification is in the book. Instead, we often look at the strength of a team this early in the week. Menard and the Wood Brothers should be one of the top performers on 2-mile tracks. They were just that with Ryan Blaney behind the wheel. And Menard himself has been solid on this track type in the past when he drove for Richard Childress Racing. Like Larson, he has slipped in recent seasons, but if he can get a peek at some of the setups from the affiliated Team Penske, he could earn a top-10.

Matt DiBenedetto ($6,600)
DiBenedetto is fighting for his racing life. After gambling on leaving a team where he was safe – but that did not have the same immediate potential as Leavine Family Racing – it took a little while to develop the kind of momentum he is currently experiencing. Frankly, we expected this team to challenge for a few top-10s much earlier in the season. On the other hand, we did not expect as many in total as DiBenedetto currently has and his momentum is a huge recommendation. With 37.17 points per race on average during the past 45 days, he is hard to overlook at this level.

Group E: (Less than or equal to $5,700)

Matt Tifft ($5,400)
The 2-mile tracks have been kind to the rookies so far in 2019. Ryan Preece ($5,900) with a pair of top-25s and Hemric ($6,400) with his 12th earlier this year at Michigan are more expensive and that leaves Tifft with little competition in Group E. He was only slightly behind Preece at Auto Club win he earned a 26th-place finish. He was one position better this June in Michigan and finished 25th. If you need a bargain basement driver this week, those types of results will earn enough points to make an attractive pick.

NASCAR Fantasy Live Preview

 

Driver

Avg.
Rank

Total
Points
Earned

Avg.
Points

This
Week's
Cap

Points
Per K

Group

Kyle Busch

10.50

319.75

53.29

$12,400

          4.30

A

Kevin Harvick

13.67

266.25

44.38

$11,800

          3.76

A

Joey Logano

16.50

205.00

34.17

$10,200

          3.35

A

Martin Truex Jr.

14.00

216.25

36.04

$11,300

          3.19

A

Brad Keselowski

17.83

144.75

24.13

$10,700

          2.25

A

 

Erik Jones

8.83

286.00

47.67

$8,500

          5.61

B

Denny Hamlin

11.33

319.00

53.17

$9,900

          5.37

B

Alex Bowman

14.33

241.50

40.25

$9,100

          4.42

B

Ryan Blaney

12.50

225.00

37.50

$9,700

          3.87

B

Kurt Busch

19.00

181.25

30.21

$8,900

          3.39

B

Chase Elliott

22.50

122.75

20.46

$9,400

          2.18

B

Clint Bowyer

24.67

97.75

16.29

$8,700

          1.87

B

 

Ryan Newman

12.00

257.50

42.92

$7,900

          5.43

C

Chris Buescher

12.17

235.25

39.21

$7,300

          5.37

C

William Byron

13.67

241.75

40.29

$7,700

          5.23

C

Kyle Larson

13.00

237.75

39.63

$8,300

          4.77

C

Aric Almirola

15.50

190.00

31.67

$8,100

          3.91

C

Jimmie Johnson

20.50

158.75

26.46

$7,600

          3.48

C

Daniel Suarez

23.83

106.25

17.71

$7,400

          2.39

C

 

Matt DiBenedetto

13.67

223.00

37.17

$6,600

          5.63

D

Paul Menard

15.33

187.00

31.17

$6,900

          4.52

D

Michael McDowell

20.83

156.25

26.04

$6,200

          4.20

D

Ty Dillon

23.00

126.50

21.08

$6,000

          3.51

D

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

21.17

132.75

22.13

$6,700

          3.30

D

Daniel Hemric

27.17

84.50

14.08

$6,400

          2.20

D

Austin Dillon

25.67

78.75

13.13

$7,100

          1.85

D

 

Matt Tifft

18.67

170.50

28.42

$5,400

          5.26

E

Corey LaJoie

20.17

158.00

26.33

$5,500

          4.79

E

Bubba Wallace

19.83

162.00

27.00

$5,700

          4.74

E

Landon Cassill

22.33

139.50

23.25

$5,200

          4.47

E

Ross Chastain

21.67

129.00

21.50

$5,600

          3.84

E

Cody Ware

30.00

13.00

13.00

$4,800

          2.71

E

Ryan Preece

28.17

70.75

11.79

$5,900

          2.00

E

Quin Houff

30.60

45.50

9.10

$5,100

          1.78

E

Austin Theriault

30.50

15.50

7.75

$4,900

          1.58

E

David Ragan

28.50

42.00

7.00

$5,300

          1.32

E

Garrett Smithley

 

 

 

$5,000

             -  

E

Spencer Boyd

 

 

 

$4,700

             -  

E

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 15 years with a little help from his >600,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.