DraftKings NASCAR: GEICO 500

DraftKings NASCAR: GEICO 500

This article is part of our NASCAR DFS series.


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

Race Preview

Kyle Busch made it three wins in a row at Richmond Raceway, but he'll face an entirely different challenge this week. While Stewart Haas Racing and Busch have dominated the opening portion of the 2018 season, anything can happen at Talladega Superspeedway. Penske Racing has been exceptional at the track recently, winning four of the last five races. Ford-powered cars have won the last five, including Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s charge to Victory Lane after starting from pole last spring. February was the last time we saw the competitors on a superspeedway, and Chevrolet captured the top two spots with Austin Dillon and Darrell Wallace Jr. While Dillon hasn't tasted the same success since, Wallace has proven himself capable of positive outings on a more frequent basis. The unpredictable nature of racing in the draft will make Busch's attempt to win four straight much more difficult. He won this race back in 2008, but crashed out last fall after leading four laps. Fantasy players will have to anticipate a higher degree of uncertainty as they choose their lineups this week.

Key Stats at Talladega Superspeedway

Number of previous races: 97
Winners from pole: 13
Winners from top-5 starters: 54
Winners from top-10 starters: 69
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 8
Fastest race: 188.354 mph

Last 10 Talladega Winners

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
2013 fall - Jamie McMurray
2013 spring - David Ragan

Racing at Talladega Superspeedway is unpredictable, fast-paced and thrilling. The nature of restrictor-plate racing makes a car's ability to move through the draft paramount to a successful afternoon at the Alabama track. Horsepower will give drivers an edge, but passing usually can't be sustained without help from a partner. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was the master of the two superspeedways last season, winning two of the four races. He started from pole in this race last season but only led 14 laps en route to victory. Brad Keselowski only led seven in his fall victory, too. Those statistics just go to show that surviving to race at the finish should be the primary focus. Tire wear won't be too much of a concern, but long green-flag runs could make handling more of an issue for some teams. The preference will be to stop under caution, but green flag stops will be a group effort, with multiple cars stopping together as drafting partners. However, just avoiding trouble for 500 miles can offer a driver a top finish.

(Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Brad Keselowski - $10,700
Joey Logano - $10,300
Chase Elliott - $10,100

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Kevin Harvick - $9,800
Kyle Busch - $9,600
Kyle Larson - $9,300
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $9,100
Ryan Blaney - $9,000

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Jimmie Johnson - $8,800
Kurt Busch - $8,600
Clint Bowyer - $8,400
Aric Almirola - $8,100

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Alex Bowman - $7,600
Paul Menard - $7,200
Darrell Wallace Jr. - $6,500
David Ragan - $6,300


Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Brad Keselowski - $10,700
Ryan Blaney - $9,000
Kurt Busch - $8,600
Aric Almirola - $8,100
Paul Menard - $7,200
David Ragan - $6,300

Keselowski seems to be back on the verge of a 2018 win with a return to the top 10 in Richmond and a visit to Talladega this weekend. The Penske Racing driver has won five times at this track. Teammate Ryan Blaney should also benefit from Penske's strength at this circuit. He's coming off of some disappointing finishes in recent weeks but led 27 laps here last fall before crashing out. Kurt Busch is a steal at this week's price, too. The 2017 Daytona 500 winner has finished in the top 10 at Talladega in more than half of his starts, including four of the last five. Fantasy players will remember how close Aric Almirola was to winning this year's Daytona 500, and he has always been good in the draft. He finished fourth and fifth in his two visits to Talladega last season. Another driver with significant upside potential this week is Paul Menard. He hasn't quite found his groove with Wood Brothers Racing yet, but he should shine this week. The team has a strong restrictor-plate program in partnership with Penske, and Menard has only finished outside of the top 15 twice in the last eight Talladega races. Finally, David Ragan offers significant value for fantasy rosters. He won this race in 2013 and finished 10th both times out last season.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Joey Logano - $10,300
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $9,100
Clint Bowyer - $8,400
Erik Jones - $8,200
Jamie McMurray - $7,800
Chris Buescher - $6,000

The higher-risk lineup for Talladega features yet another Penske Ford. Joey Logano has been excellent at Talladega, winning two times, and has led laps in the last five races at the track. Stenhouse was exceptional on the restrictor-plate circuits last season, and the recent announcement of Matt Kenseth's return to the organization could give the No. 17 a bit more to race for on Sunday. Stenhouse won this race from pole last season, and has led laps in the last three visits. It seems as though Clint Bowyer has been riding a wave of momentum since his Martinsville win, with three consecutive top-10 finishes leading to Talladega. He has two career Talladega victories, and led 10 laps in this race last season. Erik Jones has been inconsistent recently with up and down results in recent weeks, but he led 11 laps in Daytona and will get his best career Talladega finish in the series if he can avoid a crash on Sunday. Jamie McMurray has to be getting tired of watching teammate Kyle Larson run at the front. Talladega is a place McMurray can get himself up there, too. He won here twice, and finished second last spring. The last selection goes to Chris Buescher after he finished fifth in Daytona. He finished in the top 20 in both Talladega races last season, and fantasy players should expect another race like that from him this week.

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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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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