This article is part of our NASCAR DFS series.
Location: Talladega, Ala.
Course: Talladega Superspeedway
Format: 2.66-mile tri-oval
Denny Hamlin grabbed his second victory of the season last week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It was a win that earned him the first spot among the final eight championship contenders. Chase Elliott worked to close the gap in the final laps a week ago, but didn't get the job done and is one of the 11 remaining playoff drivers seeking to work their way into the round of eight. Talladega Superspeedway awaits competitors this week with the Charlotte ROVAL finishing out this round of eliminations. Brad Keselowski won at the superspeedway last time in April in a last-lap pass that remains his only win of the 2021 season. Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Hamlin and Kyle Busch will lead the field to green from the front row this weekend as the unpredictable high-banks of Talladega determines who will be next to advance in the championship battle.
Key Stats at Talladega Superspeedway
- Number of races: 104
- 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 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.
2016 fall - Joey Logano
Talladega presents a somewhat unique challenge this week in its playoff appearance on the schedule. Teammates and engine manufacturers should be expected to work together and run similar strategies that will keep their drivers together throughout the race distance, ensuring safety in numbers, and keeping as many cars in contention for the win as possible. Almost everyone's goal on Sunday will be to remain as safe as possible throughout the race to avoid any crashes that can wipe out half of the field. Some playoff drivers in peril after Las Vegas may not have that luxury and could prioritize stage points, however. The cars that remain as the laps wind down will be aiming to get into position to race for the win in the final miles. With Talladega's 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 in the draft is.
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)
Ford-powered cars have had the recent advantage at Talladega. Four of the top-five finishers in April were Fords, and Ryan Blaney's (DK $10,700, FD $12,500) teammate won. Blaney has two Talladega victories on his resume and finished ninth in the spring race. William Byron (DK $9,800, FD $12,000) won at Daytona last season and finished runner-up to Keselowski at Talladega in April. He also finished fourth in this race last season. Teammate, Kyle Larson (DK $8,400, FD $11,000) doesn't have that same success at this track, but he has been one of the fastest cars all season. He has also failed to finish four of his last five Talladega attempts. Chris Buescher (DK $7,400, FD $8,600) and his Roush Fenway Racing team have proven to have a very strong package on superspeedways. He led 15 laps in this race last season and could be a top-10 contender this week. Richard Childress Racing has also had a quick superspeedway package recently. Tyler Reddick (DK $6,400, FD $5,900) may not be in the playoffs anymore, but he has two top-10s from three Talladega races with a total of 21 laps led. This could also be Matt DiBenedetto's (DK $6,300, FD $6,800) best chance remaining to win this season. He still does not have a ride for next season and led 28 laps late in the spring race before finishing fifth. He nearly won that April race and will be looking for redemption this weekend.
Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)
Hamlin (DK $10,500, FD $14,000) is building momentum as the playoffs progress. He will start on pole this week and has two prior Talladega victories, including this race last season. He has also led 87 laps in the last thee races at the track. Elliott (DK $8,800, FD $13,500) will start Sunday's race on the second row. He won at Talladega in 2019 and led 41 laps in this race last season before finishing fifth. With his win in April, Keselowski (DK $8,600, FD $10,000) has amassed an impressive six Talladega victories. His win earlier this season was his first top-10 at the track since 2017, but he also has 12 total top-10s from his 25 career starts there. This could be one of his best chances to get one last win before leaving Team Penske at the end of the season. Kevin Harvick (DK $7,800, FD $9,500) hasn't had the speed to race for wins much of this season, but he has been making the most of what he does have in the playoffs. With four consecutive top-10s heading into this weekend he could be looking at this week as a chance to get into Victory Lane. Superspeedways have been giving Erik Jones (DK $6,500, FD $7,500) a chance to be on more equal footing since switching to the No. 43 team. He led seven laps before crashing out in the spring race and will start 26th Sunday. Can lightning strike twice? Michael McDowell (DK $6,100, FD $6,300) won the Daytona 500 earlier this season and has always punched above his weight at superspeedways. He scored his best Talladega finish of third in April.