Driver Group Game Picks Talladega

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The NASCAR Cup Series has reached the second race in the Round of 12. This is the spot in the playoffs that the playoff teams are most fearful of. William Byron is safe with his win last week at Texas, but the other 11 playoff drivers must find a way to navigate the race at Talladega in order to avoid a “must win” situation next week at the Charlotte Roval. This is always one of the wildest races on the schedule, so buckle your seat-belt on your couch; it is going to be crazy at Talladega. The YellaWood 500 can be seen Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

 

STRATEGY FOR TALLADEGA

Allocations, Allocations, Allocations!! That is the name of the game this week. We must save our top drivers for the more predictable tracks. I will take a chance with Denny Hamlin in Group A because that group is deep with talent and I have four allocations left with the No. 11 car for the last five races (I can fade Hamlin at Charlotte next week). I would love to use Brad Keselowski in Group B, but I need him at some of the other tracks. There are some good value picks in Group C, but you need to have the guts to select them for your lineup.

Here are the picks for the YellaWood 500 …

 

GROUP A DRIVERS

RYAN BLANEY (6): Blaney will likely be the driver I start in Group A this week. He finished second in this race last year and he finished second at Talladega last April. Blaney has three wins at the Superspeedways on his resume (two at Talladega and one at Daytona). I would not be surprised to see the No. 12 car in Victory Lane Sunday.

DENNY HAMLIN (4): I am not sure how it happened, but I have four allocations left with Hamlin for the last six races. I doubt I will use him next week at the Charlotte Roval, so Hamlin will likely be in my lineup at the other races on the schedule. Hamlin has been awesome at Talladega in October and horrible at the track in April. Hamlin finished 5th, 7th, 1st, 3rd, 4th, 6th and 3rd in his last seven October races at Talladega (that dates all the way back to 2015). Hamlin has been on a hot streak for a long time. I will take a chance with the No. 11 car Sunday.

(OTHER PICK) CHASE ELLIOTT (6): If you are running low with your allocations with Denny Hamlin; take a chance with Chase Elliott. Can Elliott go the entire season without winning a race? His best chances of finding Victory Lane are this week at Talladega and next week at the Charlotte Roval. Elliott won this race last year and he finished 12th at Talladega last April. He also won Stage 1 and finished second in Stage 2. Elliott will likely run up front again Sunday, score a lot of Stage Points and be a good pick for your Driver Group Game lineup.

GROUP A DRIVER RANKINGS: 1) Ryan Blaney 2) Denny Hamlin 3) Chase Elliott 4) Joey Logano 5) William Byron 6) Christopher Bell 7) Ross Chastain 8) Kyle Larson

 

GROUP B DRIVERS

CHRIS BUESCHER (6): I have plenty of allocations left with Buescher, so I am going to start using them. Buescher is one of the more underrated drivers on the Superspeedways. He finished fourth in the Daytona 500, third at Talladega in April and he won the August race at Daytona. Buescher has the best average finishing position and scored the most Stage Points on the Superspeedways this season. He is a lock for all lineups Sunday.

ERIK JONES (8): Who has been the best driver at Talladega over the last two seasons? Of course it is Erik Jones. He has finished 6th, 6th, 6th and 9th in his last four races at Talladega. Jones has also scored Stage Points in five of the eight Stages in those races and he led laps in three of the four races. Jones should lead some more laps Sunday, score some Stage Points and have a good chance to finish in the top-10.

ARIC ALMIROLA (8): Almirola is a good driver to have in your lineup this week. I am not sure I will use Almirola in the race, but he is one of the best at qualifying at Talladega. Almirola qualified second in the April race and fourth in the race last October at Talladega. He should score use some bonus points for qualifying and he will be a good backup plan if we have to use him in the race.

DANIEL SUAREZ (5): I know it is not pretty, but just close your eyes, plug your nose and click on Daniel Suarez. He has been awful this season, but he has been good at Talladega. Suarez finished 9th at Talladega in April and he finished 8th in this race last year. He also scored Stage Points and led laps in both races. I will take a chance with the No. 99 car this week.

(OTHER PICK) BUBBA WALLACE (2): There is a lot of pressure on the playoff drivers, but Wallace has been able to handle it well. He won the October race at Talladega in 2021. Wallace should be running up front with Denny Hamlin. This means he will likely be scoring some Stage Points and leading laps. I would use Wallace over Daniel Suarez, but I need Wallace for some other tracks in the playoffs.

GROUP B DRIVER RANKINGS: 1) Chris Buescher 2) Brad Keselowski 3) Erik Jones 4) Aric Almirola 5) Daniel Suarez 6) Bubba Wallace 7) Kyle Busch 8) Kevin Harvick 9) Austin Cindric 10) Martin Truex Jr.

 

GROUP C DRIVERS

RICKY STENHOUSE JR. (4): Stenhouse will likely be my starter in Group C. He won the Daytona 500 this year and then he finished 15th at Talladega in April. Stenhouse has been a “boom or bust” pick at the Superspeedways. I like to play the drivers with the most upside, so I will take a chance with Stenhouse Sunday.

TY GIBBS (3): I know you are probably shocked to see Gibbs in my lineup, but calm down… I have an explanation. I know I am using Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in my starting lineup so I need a driver who can score qualifying points. Gibbs qualified third at Talladega in April and he qualified fifth at Daytona last month. I will pair Gibbs with Stenhouse so I have a good chance to score the maximum amount of points this weekend.

 (OTHER CHOICE) TODD GILLILAND (9): I do not have the guts to click on Gilliland’s name, but I should. Gilliland will likely qualify outside the top-25, run around the back for most of the race and then finish in the top-10 when the checkered flag is waived. That is what he does at this track. Gilliland finished 10th at Talladega in April and 7th last October. He will be a good choice if you are out of allocations with Ty Gibbs and simply need another driver to start Sunday.

 

GROUP C DRIVER RANKINGS: 1) Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 2) Todd Gilliland 3) Ryan Preece  4) AJ Allmendinger 5) Ty Gibbs

* Be sure to check back Sunday morning for my starting lineup.

 

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Good Luck This Weekend!

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