DraftKings NASCAR: Geico 500

DraftKings NASCAR: Geico 500

This article is part of our NASCAR DFS series.

GEICO 500

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

Race Preview

Carl Edwards extended the dominance of the Joe Gibbs Racing organization with his second consecutive win last week in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway. The Gibbs driver nudged teammate Kyle Busch in the final corner of the final lap to take his second win of the season and the fifth win of the season for the organization. Now that back-to-back short-track races are in the books, the series heads to the high banked superspeedway of Talladega. The Gibbs organization is sure to be among the top prospects this week, too. Denny Hamlin won the last visit to a superspeedway in Daytona, and the Gibbs team took three of four wins at the track in February including the Sprint Unlimited and qualifying races. The whole field will have to contend with the superspeedway king Dale Earnhardt Jr., however. Earnhardt is a master at the draft and could help Hendrick Motorsports close the gap to JGR this week.

Key Stats at Talladega Superspeedway

Number of previous races: 93
Winners from pole: 13
Winners from top-5 starters: 53
Winners from top-10 starters: 66
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 8
Fastest race: 188.354 mph

Last 10 Talladega Winners

2015 fall - Joey Logano
2015 spring - Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2014 fall - Brad Keselowski
2014 spring - Denny Hamlin
2013 fall - Jamie McMurray
2013 spring - David Ragan
2012 fall - Matt Kenseth
2012 spring - Brad Keselowski
2011 fall - Clint Bowyer
2011 spring - Jimmie Johnson

Team preparation for last week's race in Richmond could not be more different this week in Talladega. The Alabama superspeedway is one of the two tracks on the calendar that features the restrictor-plate rules package, and pack racing is the name of the game. The current rules package at Talladega and Daytona seem to favor the car that can lead. We've seen contenders have a difficult time passing any car for the lead, and help from other drivers in pushing will be a requirement for any driver hoping to make a move for the lead. Tires and qualifying won't be the primary focus of teams heading into Sunday's race as they have been the past few weeks. The setup for Talladega will be focused on massing chassis aerodynamics and tuning the engine to enable passing in the draft. A driver who can pass at will can have a significant advantage over the competition this week if he or she is also capable of avoiding any wrecks.

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

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Dale Earnhardt Jr. - $10,300
Carl Edwards - $10,100
Denny Hamlin - $10,000

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Jimmie Johnson - $9,800
Kevin Harvick - $9,400
Kyle Busch - $9,200
Matt Kenseth - $9,100
Brad Keselowski - $9,000

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Martin Truex Jr. - $8,900
Kurt Busch - $8,800
Austin Dillon - $8,600
Tony Stewart - $8,200

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Ryan Blaney - $7,300
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $6,900
Greg Biffle - $6,600
Danica Patrick - $6,400

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. - $10,300
Jimmie Johnson - $9,800
Martin Truex Jr. - $8,900
Ryan Blaney - $7,300
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $6,900
Greg Biffle - $6,600

It's no surprise that we come to Talladega and Earnhardt is the first name in the lower-risk roster option. He's the best active driver at this circuit with a driver rating of 93.8 and six wins. His teammate, Jimmie Johnson, has won twice here and has an average finish of 16.9 from 28 career starts. Truex finished second in the Daytona 500 earlier this year and finished in the top 10 in the last two races at the track. The rookie Ryan Blaney survived the Daytona 500 to finish 19th, but also finished fourth in this race last season. He has three Talladega starts in Sprint Cup. To round out the roster we have two Roush Fenway Racing cars in Stenhouse and Biffle. The Roush cars were pacey in Daytona, and should be so again at Talladega. Neither driver finished well in February and will be poised to gain back some momentum. The best thing about this roster option is that any driver on it could win on Sunday.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Joey Logano - $9,600
Kevin Harvick - $9,400
Kyle Busch - $9,200
Ryan Newman - $7,500
Paul Menard - $6,800
Cole Whitt - $5,000

Penske Racing's Joey Logano heads the riskier lineup option where fantasy players would forgo the favorite for three or more potential front-runners. Logano finished sixth in the Daytona 500 this year and won at Talladega last fall. Kevin Harvick is usually a driver who threatens to win on restrictor-plate tracks, and his fourth at Daytona in February and five-straight Talladega finishes of 15th or better prove that. Kyle Busch gives this option a taste of Joe Gibbs Racing. Teammate Hamlin won the Daytona 500, while Kyle finished third after leading 19 laps. Ryan Newman hasn't finished outside of the top 20 at Talladega in his last five races there, and teammate Paul Menard bettered that by scoring four top-10s in the same span. Both offer confident fantasy points on a tricky circuit. Finally, Cole Whitt has never scored a Talladega top-10 but has offered fantasy players a finish differential of 10 spots on average. Those points will come in very handy this Sunday.

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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