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Sarah’s Weekly Picks: Michigan Edition

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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is headed to Michigan International Speedway for the FireKeepers Casino 400 our Sarah Handy breaks down her picks and who you may want to pay attention to this weekend.

Top Picks:

Kyle Larson: Larson earned his first career win in the cup series at Michigan in the Pure Michigan 400 back in August of 2016 and since then it’s been one of his best race tracks.

Larson has won at the 2-mile track the last three times the MENCS has visited the Irish Hills of Michigan.

Larson is my top pick with the series heading to MIS and I believe it’s his best chance to earn his first win of the 2018 season.

In eight career starts at MIS in a cup car, Larson has 3 wins, with his worse finish being a 43rd place result after being involved in an accident.

He has an average finish of 10.88 and his victory at MIS last June came from the pole position.

Joey Logano: Logano could capture his second win of the 2018 season at MIS on Sunday.

Logano has had a consistent season thus far with 1 win (Talladega), 5 top-5 finishes and 11 top-10 finishes in 12 starts.

Michigan has been a good track for Logano, statistically one of his best on the schedule since 2009.

In 28 starts in a cup car at MIS, Logano has two career wins and in his last 10 starts he has only finished worse than 10th once. His worse result was a 28th place finish last August after starting in the second position.

Logano could certainly give Larson a run for his money come Sunday’s race because it’s a good track for both drivers. His last win at the track came in June of 2016.

Dark Horses:

Kyle Busch: Busch has had a very good season so far racking up 4 wins, 9 top-5’s, 11 top-10’s, and leading 888 laps.

However, Michigan hasn’t been too kind to the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion. He does have 1 win at the track which came in August of 2011 but since then his best finish is a 4th place result coming all the way back in June of 2013.

With an average finish of 19.50, I don’t personally see Busch being much of a contender for the win come Sunday.

Based on his last two finishes at the track of 10th (August 2017) and 7th (June 2017) he may leave the 2-mile track with a top-10 result if he can manage to stay out of trouble, but I feel a win is very far fetched based on his track statistics.

Aric Almirola: Almirola has had one of his best seasons in the MENCS since joining Stewart-Hass Racing this season.

The driver of the No. 10 Ford Fusion is looking for his first win in the MENCS since winning the 2014 Coke Zero 400 from Daytona International Speedway.

I’m certain we will see Almirola in victory lane this season, but I don’t think it’s going to happen at MIS. The 2-mile track certainly isn’t one of the best for the 34-year old.

In 11 cup starts at MIS, Almirola’s best finish is a 12th place result which came last August when the series visited the track.

His average finish of 20.18 will most likely improve following Sunday’s race since he will make his first start at the track in SHR equipment. I look for Almirola to leave the Irish Hills with a solid top-10 or top-12 finish.

Who to Watch:

Chase Elliott: Elliott has been phenomenal at Michigan and I’m quite surprised he has yet to win at the 2-mile track. He is a driver who could certainly steal the win from Larson.

In four cup starts at MIS, Elliott has three finishes in a row of second (Both 2016 races and June 2017) and last August he went on to finish in the 8th position.

Elliott’s average finish is an astounding 3.50. I truly believe MIS is a track we will see Elliott win at in the MENCS.

He may or may not surprise everyone and capture the victory come Sunday or he could come back and do so in August. Time will tell.

Kurt Busch: With 3 wins at MIS, look for Busch to have a solid race day. His last win at the track came back in June of 2015 (Rain shortened race) and since then he has only finished worse than 12th once.

Busch’s worse finish in his last five races at the 2-mile track is a 20th place result (August 2015).

With an average finish of 19.47 it may not be his best track on the schedule but with winning here in the past and his last races here he should finish the race with a solid top-10 finish, if not a better result.

Kevin Harvick: It’s difficult to leave Harvick off any list this season that I do for my weekly picks. I don’t think I’ve had him as a dark horse yet and why would I? He’s certainly going to be a driver to watch week in and week out.

With an incredible 5 wins in 2018 already to go along with 10 top-5’s, 11 top-10 finishes and having led 909 laps I’d certainly keep an eye on “The Closer” this weekend.

Harvick does only have one win at MIS which came back in August of 2010 but it’s a track he’s been consistent at.

In his last 10 starts he has five finishes of 2nd and has only one finish worse than 14th which came back in June of 2015 when he finished in the 29th position.

With an average finish of 12.71, I look for Harvick and his No. 4 Ford Fusion team to finish no worse than a top-5 result.

Who do you think we will come Sunday’s race at MIS? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Sarah Handy

Sarah Handy is a NASCAR writer. You can find her on Twitter at @SarahHandy85. A college student studying Communications/Public Relations Field and an Electronics Associate at Walmart. Sarah enjoys tweeting about racing, running, reading, puzzles, video games, and photography. Born and raised in Rhode Island, Sarah avidly follows all major New England Teams (Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins & Celtics) as well as a huge fan of what she considers her home track New Hampshire Motor Speedway which she attends each year.

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