DFS NASCAR: GEICO 500

DFS NASCAR: GEICO 500

This article is part of our DFS NASCAR series.

GEICO 500

Location: Talladega, Ala.
Course: Talladega Superspeedway
Format: 2.66-mile tri-oval
Laps: 188

Race Preview

After three short-track races, the NASCAR Cup Series teams face the Talladega Superspeedway this week for the GEICO 500. Kyle Busch capped off the three-race stint on short tracks with a victory on Bristol's dirt surface last week. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver was the eighth different driver to visit Victory Lane this season and continued his streak of seasons with at least one win. He admitted after the race that he and the team still have much to improve to compete for wins each week. This week's superspeedway stop might also be a challenge for them. This will be the second superspeedway stop of the season, and Ford dominated the first at Daytona. This weekend will show how much ground the other manufacturers have closed the gap to those piloting the blue oval through the first phase of the season.

Key Stats at Talladega Superspeedway

  • Number of races: 105
  • Winners from pole: 14
  • Winners from top-5 starters: 56
  • Winners from top-10 starters: 74
  • Winners from 21st or lower starters: 8
  • Fastest race: 188.354 mph

Previous 10 Talladega Winners

2021 fall - Bubba Wallace
2021 spring - Brad Keselowski
2020 fall - Denny Hamlin
2020 spring - Ryan Blaney
2019 fall - Ryan Blaney
2019 spring - Chase Elliott
2018 fall - Aric Almirola
2018 spring - Joey Logano
2017 fall - Brad Keselowski
2017 spring - Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Talladega is an entirely different track than the teams have faced the past few weeks. Drafting is the name of the game, and a healthy dose of luck to avoid crashes will also be a requirement to have a shot at the win on Sunday. Ford powered cars dominated February's Daytona 500, putting seven of their drivers in the top 10. Fantasy players can expect manufacturer's drivers to find one another on track and partner up into a draft to race to the front. Manufacturers will also plan their pit strategies together to ensure as many of their cars are able to get back into the draft as quickly as possible coming off of pit road. With that emphasis on drafting, any unscheduled trips down pit road will leave a driver out of the pack and laps down to the leaders. Track position isn't a huge factor at Talladega, but being able to make passes to move forward in the pack is. 

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values  

Ryan Blaney - $10,500
Joey Logano - $10,300
Kyle Larson - $10,100
Chase Elliott - $9,900

DraftKings Tier 2 Values  

Tyler Reddick - $9,700
William Byron - $9,600
Alex Bowman - $9,200
Denny Hamlin - $9,100

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Brad Keselowski - $8,900
Chase Briscoe - $8,800
Kevin Harvick - $8,600
Bubba Wallace - $8,100

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Austin Cindric - $7,900
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $7,600
Aric Almirola - $7,500
Erik Jones - $6,600

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Ryan Blaney - $10,500
Brad Keselowski - $8,900
Martin Truex Jr. - $8,300
Bubba Wallace - $8,100
Aric Almirola - $7,500
Erik Jones - $6,600

Fantasy players will want to lean a little heavier on Ford drivers when compiling their lineups for Talladega this week. The marque was so strong in Daytona that they should still hold an advantage at Talladega. Ryan Blaney (DK $10,500, FD $14,000) and Brad Keselowski (DK $8,900, FD $12,000) are top choices to start with. Blaney was fourth at Daytona and led 36 laps. He is also a two-time winner at Talladega and consistently leads laps at the track. Similarly, Keselowski was in the mix for the Daytona win in February and boasts an impressive six Talladega victories. Martin Truex Jr. (DK $8,300, FD $6,500) offers a good taste of Toyota. He got out front for 11 laps at Daytona and eight top-10s at Talladega. Bubba Wallace (DK $8,100, FD $11,500) won his first series race at this track last fall and was runner up to Austin Cindric in the Daytona 500. Aric Almirola (DK $7,500, FD $7,300) is another superspeedway specialist. He finished fifth at Daytona despite starting way back in 38th. He won at Talladega in 2018 and led 16 laps in this race last season. Fantasy players also have the chance to pick some dark horses in races like these, and Erik Jones (DK $6,600, FD $4,800) fits that bill well. He can punch above his weight in this style of racing, as evidenced by him leading three laps before crashing at Daytona in February. He also led seven laps in this race last season before crashing and finished ninth in the return race last fall.

Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Joey Logano - $10,300
William Byron - $9,600
Austin Cindric - $7,900
Ross Chastain - $7,700
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $7,600
Chris Buescher - $6,900

Joey Logano (DK $10,300, FD $13,500) is another top selection among the Ford drivers. He hasn't visited Victory Lane yet this year and is itching to check that box. He is a former Daytona 500 champion and brings three Talladega victories to the higher-risk lineup. William Byron (DK $9,600, FD $10,500) is a good choice among the Chevrolet drivers to bring some manufacturer diversity to the roster. The Hendrick Motorsports cars are fast in single-car runs at these tracks but just need some adjustments to race as well. Byron has two top-fives at this track including his runner-up finish in this race last season. February's Daytona 500 winner Austin Cindric (DK $7,900, FD $8,500) showed exactly what he is capable of doing on superspeedways in February. He is a bargain price for this week's race considering February's win and his three Xfinity Series top-five finishes at this track. Ross Chastain (DK $7,700, FD $6,800) has a best Cup Series finish of 12th at Talladega, but he frequently leads laps there. He led in three of his six series starts and was an early elimination from Daytona earlier this season. So, this weekend will be his first chance of showing what he can do with this new car on a superspeedway. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (DK $7,600, FD $7,500) is one of the more aggressive superspeedway racers, which is why he goes into the higher-risk lineup. Stenhouse won this race in 2017 and often barges his way to the front. That aggressiveness sometimes gets him into trouble, though. Finally, Chris Buescher (DK $6,900, FD $7,000) is another frequent selection at superspeedways. He won his qualifying race at Daytona in February and finished sixth at Talladega last fall.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. C.J. Radune plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: cjradune, RaceDayScore: cjradune.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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