This article is part of our DraftKings NASCAR series.
Location: Talladega, Ala.
Course: Talldega Superspeedway
Format: 2.66-mile tri-oval
Martin Truex Jr. joined Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin with a 2019 season win with his first short-track victory two weeks ago at Richmond. The Toyota contingent from JGR continues to be among the strongest teams in the series and have won the last three races heading into last week's short break. Penske Racing continues to be the main challenger to JGR's dominance, and they will have done work during the off week to gain an advantage. In fact, those two teams remain the only two to have won this season, and the rest of the garage is working to close that gap. Closest have been the Stewart-Haas Racing Fords, but Hendrick Motorsports was also closing the gap through Richmond. Converse to the rest of the JGR team, Erik Jones now sits just one point outside of the playoff positions in the championship standings. He is chasing Paul Menard and has just a four-point gap in hand back to Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who may be eyeing this week's race as one where he can add his name to the win column. Only three races remain until the All-Star race weekend at Charlotte, and with Talladega being more of a wild card than other circuits, fantasy owners may not know how much of an advantage Gibbs and Penske retain until next week's outing at Dover.
Key Stats at Talladega Superspeedway
• Number of previous races: 99
• Winners from pole: 13
• Winners from top-5 starters: 55
• Winners from top-10 starters: 71
• Winners from 21st or lower starters: 8
• Fastest race: 188.354 mph
Last 10 Talladega Winners
2018 fall - Aric Almirola
2018 spring - Joey Logano
2017 fall - Brad Keselowski
2017 spring - Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
2016 fall - Joey Logano
2016 spring - Brad Keselowski
2015 fall - Joey Logano
2015 spring - Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2014 fall - Brad Keselowski
2014 spring - Denny Hamlin
This week's 500-mile race at Talladega will be the first superspeedway race using the full 2019 rules package designed to bring the racing closer together. Again, we will hear talk of this being largely an unknown and having to "throw away" the history as teams learn what it takes to get the most out of the new configuration. However, if fantasy players have learned anything yet this season it has been that the more things change the more things stay the same. The JGR teammates along with Penske will continue to be heavy favorites with Stewart-Haas drivers in close tow. Penske has won five of the last seven Talladega races, and no manufacturer other than Ford has visited Victory Lane at the track since Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s 2015 spring win. Denny Hamlin took the Daytona 500 victory earlier this season under the previous rules package, but the Fords of Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick won in the qualifying races. Hamlin and Busch led a combined 100 of 207 total Daytona laps that afternoon. Fantasy owners should also expect Hendrick Motorsports drivers to be fast in qualifying and able to lead laps this weekend. William Byron started from pole and led 44 in Daytona. While they are unlikely to be the favorites, they should show early weekend speed.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
DraftKings Tier 1 Values
DraftKings Tier 2 Values
DraftKings Tier 3 Values
DraftKings Long-Shot Values
MY PICKS THIS WEEK
Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)
Brad Keselowski's five Talladega wins make him an easy favorite for fantasy rosters this week, especially considering Penske's early-season pace. Denny Hamlin, being the only superspeedway winner so far this season, also adds quality to the lower-risk lineup option with JGR might and a 2014 spring Talladega win. Another logical choice, and likely undervalued in terms of price this week, is Kurt Busch. Busch has always been a formidable racer in the draft and he has been the top performing Chevrolet driver this season, too. Selecting Aric Almirola and Paul Menard add additional Ford strength to the lineup. Almirola is the most recent Talladega winner, and Menard has two ninth-place finishes at the track in the last two seasons. Closing out the lower-risk choices is Richard Childress Racing's Daniel Hemric. Childress consistently fields competitive cars at the superspeedways and Hemric should use that to his advantage. He captured the Xfinity pole at the track last season and led 39 laps.
Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)
Choosing not to go with Keselowski this week can allow fantasy owners to add the remainder of the Penske team to the lineup. Joey Logano is no slouch at the circuit with three wins. He's also this race's defending winner. Ryan Blaney has also been matching the speed of his teammates this season but hasn't converted it into a win yet. He has two top-10s at the track and led six laps in the fall race. Kyle Larson is another driver who hasn't converted his fast car into wins yet this year. He crashed out of this race last season and has an average finish of 20.3 from 10 starts. Aric Almirola or Daniel Suarez could be good replacements for owners not ready to trust Larson just yet. There is little doubt Ricky Stenhouse Jr. could come out on top this weekend, too. With four top-fives in the last five Talladega races, he is a steal at this week's price. Fantasy players would also be wise to add Matt DiBenedetto to rosters this week. The Toyota driver excelled in the Daytona 500, leading 49 laps. He has also led laps in each of his last three trips to this track. Finally, Bubba Wallace could be in store for his best run of the season. The team has struggled to match their pace from last season, but a week off to regroup and Wallace's abilities in the draft should combine to allow a significant step forward in their results.