The NASCAR Cup Series will compete in some Superspeedway racing Sunday at Talladega. This will be race No. 10 on the schedule. It is hard to believe that the season has already reached race 10, but I guess time goes by quickly when you’re having fun and the Gen-7 car has breathed some fresh air into the Cup Series this year. The teams will not have practice this week, but they will qualify the cars Saturday morning and race Sunday afternoon. Be sure to check back Saturday evening for my starting lineup.
STRATEGY FOR TALLADEGA
The race Sunday will not be like your normal spring race at Talladega. We have two races on Superspeedways to use the data from for our picks this week. NASCAR turned Atlanta Motor Speedway into a Superspeedway, so the results from that race can be used this week, along with the data from the Daytona 500.
We are only allowed to use each driver nine times throughout the season so we need to use our allocations wisely with our top drivers. I am not too worried about using an allocation with a top driver from Group A since the group is so deep, but I will try to save allocations in Groups B and C.
We must remember that the Driver Group Game awards points for qualifying. Predicting the drivers who will start up front at Talladega is not too tough. Hendrick Motorsports has dominated the front row on the Superspeedways for many years now. It will be a good idea to sprinkle some of the drivers from HMS into your lineup this week. Remember, we do not lose an allocation with the driver unless we use him in the race.
DRIVER GROUP GAME LINEUP
GROUP A DRIVERS
RYAN BLANEY (7): Blaney has been the most consistent driver this year in the Cup Series. The No. 12 car has had speed in every race so why should we use him at such an unpredictable track? Talladega is not that unpredictable for Blaney. He has had consistent success on this Superspeedway. Blaney won at Talladega in 2019 and he went to Victory Lane again in 2020. He finished fourth in the Daytona 500 this year and the No. 12 car should have a good chance to finish in the top-five Sunday. If we run out of allocations with Blaney, we will have to use Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin or Martin Truex Jr. I think we can get through the season with those drivers if Blaney is not available anymore.
CHASE ELLIOTT (8): I will have Elliott on my team for a couple of reasons. He finished sixth at Atlanta and 10th at Daytona this year so Elliott has been good on the Superspeedways in the Gen-7 car. He also won at Talladega in 2019 so he knows how to get to Victory Lane at this track. Elliott has qualified in the top-five in six of his eight races at Talladega when the Cup Series had qualifying. Elliott should score some qualifying points Saturday so I will have him in my lineup.
GROUP A DRIVER RANKINGS: 1) Ryan Blaney 2) Chase Elliott 3) Denny Hamlin 4) Martin Truex Jr. 5) Kyle Busch 6) Kevin Harvick 7) Kyle Larson
GROUP B DRIVERS
BRAD KESELOWSKI (8): The No. 6 team received a major penalty from NASCAR last month for modifications they made to the Gen-7 car. Keselowski is in such a hole that he almost has to win a race in order to make the playoffs. Keselowski said after the penalty, “We need to win a race now. I am not sure we have the speed to compete at the smaller tracks, but we can win at Talladega or Daytona. I am going to those tracks and I will do whatever it takes to win.” Keselowski has a Cup Series high six wins at Talladega so he knows what it takes to get to Victory Lane. This is a great race to use an allocation with Keselowski.
BUBBA WALLACE JR. (8): Wallace finally found something he is good at. He is not good at throwing a football or riding a skateboard, but he is awesome at the Superspeedways. Wallace finished second in the Daytona 500 and 13th at Atlanta this year in the Gen-7 car. He won the last race at Talladega and I would not be surprised if Wallace was in Victory Lane Sunday. This is a good race to use Wallace and save your good drivers for more predictable tracks.
CHRIS BUESCHER (8): RFK Racing has looked good on the Superspeedways this year. Buescher finished seventh at Atlanta and 16th at Daytona this year. He has also had success at Talladega. Buescher finished sixth in the last race at Talladega. He has also scored Stage Points in six consecutive Stages at the track, so we know Buescher will be up front. Both RFK Racing cars will be good picks Sunday.
ALEX BOWMAN (8): I am not using Bowman in the race Sunday. He is in my lineup for qualifying points only and he should get them. Bowman has not only been the best driver in the Cup Series at qualifying on the Superspeedways, he has been the best in the history of the sport. His five consecutive front row starts in the Daytona 500 is a record in NASCAR. The Hendrick Motorsports cars have had a lot of speed this year so I will try to earn the qualifying points with Bowman Saturday.
*Joey Logano and William Byron have had a lot of success at Talladega. They are both excellent picks for the race Sunday, but it would be a good idea to save these two drivers for the more predictable races.
GROUP B DRIVER RANKINGS: 1) Brad Keselowski 2) Joey Logano 3) Bubba Wallace 4) Chris Buescher 5) William Byron 6) Christopher Bell 7) Kurt Busch 8) Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 9) Aric Almirola 10) Austin Dillon
GROUP C DRIVERS
ERIK JONES (8): Jones has been good at the Superspeedways in his career. He has two wins in the Cup Series at Daytona (2018 and 2020) and he has been good at Talladega too. Jones finished three of his last four races at Talladega in the top-10. There are a lot of good choices in Group C this week, but I think Jones has the best chance to go to Victory Lane.
TY DILLON (9): Do you want a safe pick for your Driver Group Game lineup Sunday? It will be tough to find a safer driver than Dillon this week. Dillon has competed in eight races in the Cup Series at Talladega. He has never finished outside the top-17. His average finishing position at Dega is 12th. That includes a third-place finish in his last race at Talladega in 2020 and that was in a Germain Racing Chevy. Dillon finished 11th in the Daytona 500 this year. He should have a great chance to finish in the top-12 Sunday.
* Austin Cindric is the best pick in Group C. He won the Daytona 500 and the No. 2 car should be good Sunday. I think it is a good idea to save Cindric for the smaller tracks though.
GROUP C DRIVER RANKINGS: 1) Austin Cindric 2) Erik Jones 3) Ty Dillon 4) Daniel Suarez 5) Michael McDowell
* Be sure to check back Saturday evening for my starting lineup for the Driver Group Game.
Good Luck This Week!
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