NASCAR DFS:  GEICO 500

NASCAR DFS: GEICO 500

This article is part of our NASCAR DFS series.

GEICO 500

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

Race Preview

Kyle Larson grabbed his second victory of the season by winning the strategic track-position battle at Martinsville Speedway last week. He led just 30 laps after using a two-tire pit stop under the final caution to get off of pit road first. That was the winning move in what became an overwhelmingly track-position dependent contest. With that heavily track-position weighted race in the rearview mirror, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to wide open Talladega Superspeedway this weekend. The coming challenge is a very different proposition than the last three race-race stretch of short track visits, too. Talladega's pack-style racing and three- or four-wide racing makes track position less important than partnering with other cars to make moves forward through the pack. Talladega is famous for its high speeds and close racing, making surviving to the finish one of the biggest factors in success or failure in this race. Ross Chastain and Chase Elliott went to Victory Lane there last season, but this race is a chance for smaller teams to make an impact. Bubba Wallace scored victory here in 2021 and was the 12th different driver to score his first series visit at the track in doing so. There have been 51 different winners from the circuit's 107 appearances on the calendar, and there are currently 11 active drivers with a Talladega win on their resume. There have also been seven different winners from nine races so far this season. This superspeedway doesn't often disappoint, and this week's visit is shaping up to be another great one.

Key Stats at Talladega Superspeedway

  • Number of races: 107
  • 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

2022 fall - Chase Elliott
2022 spring - Ross Chastain
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

Talladega stands in stark contrast to the more recent short track races. Aerodynamic drafting and horsepower are big factors at this fast track, and drivers need both luck and skill to avoid crashes. The pack-style racing created by this rules package and track means just one mistake can trigger a multi-car disaster for many others, regardless of where they happen to be running at the time. Like Daytona, this is a race where teammates and manufacturers will work together through much of the race, but it will be everyone for themselves as the checkered flag draws near. Those partners will also plan their pit stops together under green flag conditions. The goal of doing that is to have as many cars as possible together to draft back up to racing speed and minimize time lost. Mistakes on pit road under green can mean losing that draft and struggling the rest of the race to get back onto the lead lap. Qualifying and track position (at least until the finish) isn't a huge factor at Talladega, but finding partners that draft well together, bonding together to make passes and move forward in the pack, is what everyone will be searching for.

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DraftKings Value Picks for the GEICO 500 (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values  

Joey Logano - $10,400
Ryan Blaney - $10,300
Chase Elliott - $10,100
DraftKings Tier 2 Values  

Denny Hamlin - $9,900
William Byron - $9,700
Ross Chastain - $9,400
Brad Keselowski - $9,200

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Kyle Busch - $8,900
Bubba Wallace - $8,700
Christopher Bell - $8,500
Alex Bowman - $8,200

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Chase Briscoe - $7,900
Chris Buescher - $7,700
Austin Dillon - $7,200
Austin Cindric - $7,000

NASCAR DFS Picks for the GEICO 500

Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

William Byron - $9,700
Brad Keselowski - $9,200
Kyle Busch - $8,900
Bubba Wallace - $8,700
Austin Cindric - $7,000
Justin Haley - $6,400

Talladega can be an unpredictable place, but Hendrick Motorsports and William Byron (DK $9,700, FD $12,500) can offer some confidence. A Hendrick driver won here last fall and two Hendrick drivers now have multiple victories this season, the first of which was Byron. He led a combined 39 laps in the two Talladega visits last season and is likely to be fast again this week. Another driver that can offer some Talladega confidence is Brad Keselowski (DK $9,200, FD $10,500). He leads active drivers with six Talladega wins and has been in the mix for a victory already in 2023. This could be the weekend he returns to Victory Lane. Another driver looking stronger on superspeedways is Kyle Busch (DK $8,900, FD $9,500). He now has Richard Childress Racing equipment, which is consistently among the best at these tracks. He led 36 laps in the Daytona 500 and has one prior Talladega victory. This weekend could be his second. 

Bubba Wallace (DK $8,700, FD $10,000) is also a prior Talladega winner. He won his first series race here in 2021 and is consistently in the mix at the front of the field  at both Talladega and Daytona. Speaking of Daytona, Austin Cindric (DK $7,000, FD $8,000) earned his first series victory there last year. He, like Wallace, is an astute racer at superspeedways and often leads laps in these races. He could be a factor for the win this week if he is able to navigate his way to the finish. He finished ninth at the track last fall. The final superspeedway winner in the lower-risk lineup is Justin Haley (DK $6,400, FD $5,000). Like Cindric, Haley earned his first series victory at Daytona and is a competent competitor at Talladega. He has three finishes inside the top 15 at the track in his six series starts.

Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Ryan Blaney - $10,300
Ross Chastain - $9,400
Christopher Bell - $8,500
Chase Briscoe - $7,900
Austin Dillon - $7,200
Corey Lajoie - $6,100

Talladega's Victory Lane is not foreign to Ryan Blaney (DK $10,300, FD $13,500). The Team Penske driver is still searching for his first season victory and is a two time Talladega winner. His most recent was in 2020, but he finished second in the fall race last year. He led 54 total laps in the two Talladega races last season and finished in the top 10 at Daytona in February. He is one of the favorites this week along with teammate Joey Logano. Defending race winner Ross Chastain (DK $9,400, FD $11,500) is another name to consider. Not only did he lead the final lap in that race, but he led 36 laps and finished fourth on the return trip in the fall. He has led a total of 59 laps in his eight Talladega starts and was also out front for six laps at Daytona just this past February. Fantasy players should expect him to be at the front again this weekend. Leading Chastain at the top of championship standings is Christopher Bell (DK $8,500, FD $11,000). Bell started on pole at both Talladega races last season and obviously has competitive machinery. He just needs to turn that speed into a good finish. He led seven laps in last year's spring race and has led 25 total laps in his six Talladega starts. His best finish was fifth in the 2021 fall race and will be hunting for more this week. 

Another driver looking to capitalize on superspeedway promise is Chase Briscoe (DK $7,900, FD $6,200). He led five laps in February's Daytona 500 and scored his first Talladega top-10 last fall. He is another driver that could be in position to fight for Sunday's victory if he can avoid trouble to race at the finish. Austin Dillon (DK $7,200, FD $7,000) has the know how to get safely to the end of these races. He has not won at Talladega, but he is one of the better superspeedway racers in the field. He has two top-fives and five top-10s from 19 Talladega starts and finished runner-up to Chastain in this race last season. Lastly, underdog Corey Lajoie (DK $6,100, FD $4,200) often punches above his weight on superspeedways. He is adept in the draft and has frequently put himself in position to lead laps at these tracks. He led in both Talladega visits last season and has a best finish of seventh.

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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