The Cup Series will travel back to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend. Most people thought the race at Talladega would be the “wild card race” in the Round of 12, but it is going to be hard to beat the craziness the Cup Series had at Texas last week. The Fantasy Live picks were able to survive the blown tire chaos and post 243 points. We are going to need a lot more luck to survive “The Big One” at Talladega. The YellaWood 500 can be seen Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on NBC.
STRATEGY FOR TALLADAGE
We cannot predict which drivers will be in the wrecks Sunday but we can predict which drivers will run up front and score the most Stage Points. My strategy at the Superspeedway races is to chase the Stage Points. Once a driver scores the Stage Points, they cannot be taken away. If you have a driver that finishes up front in Stage 1 and Stage 2, he will have a decent score in the Fantasy Live Game, even if he wrecks at the end of the race.
Here are the drivers Stage Points scored on the Superspeedways this year and their average finishing position in the race…
Here are my picks for Talladega …
CHASE ELLIOTT (5): I have plenty of allocations left with Elliott to get me through the playoffs so I will use the No. 9 car in my lineup Sunday. Elliott has been awesome on the Superspeedways this year. Elliott finished 10th in the Daytona 500, 7th in the first race at Talladega, finished 6th in the first race at Atlanta and won the summer race at Atlanta. Elliott also scored the most Stage Points this year on the Superspeedways. We need “safe drivers” for our lineup and Elliott avoids the wrecks better than most in the field.
RYAN BLANEY (5): Blaney has not been to Victory Lane this year but that could change Sunday. Blaney won at Talladega in 2019 and 2020 and he won at Daytona in 2021. That is three straight years with a win on a Superspeedway track. Blaney has the second-best average finishing position on the Superspeedways this year (10.4 is tied with Bubba Wallace) and scored 24 Stage Points. I expect another good run from the No. 12 team Sunday.
JOEY LOGANO (3): I am quickly running out of allocations with Logano, but I do not plan to use him at the Charlotte Roval, Las Vegas or Homestead. I only need him at Martinsville and Phoenix so I will use the other allocation this week. Logano is leading the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Standings. He is 37 points above the cut line. I expect Logano to run up front in Stage 1 and Stage 2 to try to put my points in the bank. This is a good race to use an allocation with Logano.
BUBBA WALLACE (5): Talladega is the home track for Wallace. He won this race last year. Was it a fluke or can Wallace do it again? His 2nd place finish in the Daytona 500 shows that Wallace has the skills to win on the Superspeedways. Wallace has the second-best average finishing position (10.4) on the Superspeedways this year and he has scored 31 Stage Points in the five races. Wallace has been pretty good at avoiding the wrecks and finishing up front so I will have him on my team this week.
WILLIAM BYRON (4): Byron has been the best driver in the playoffs and I doubt a trip to Talladega will slow him down. Byron finished all four playoff races in the top-eight. He also has a win at Daytona and finished 2nd at Talladega last year. Byron qualified 8th, finished 4th in Stage 1, won Stage 2 and he finished 15th at Talladega this spring. Byron was in a slump in that race and he is on a hot streak now. I will play the hot hand and have the No. 24 car in my lineup this weekend.
GARAGE DRIVER BRAD KESELOWSKI (5): Keselowski’s seven wins on the Superspeedways is the most in the Cup Series. Six of those wins came at Talladega. Keselowski was the best driver in the Daytona 500 and the No. 6 team is improving after they won the pole and finished 8th last week. The good thing about Keselowski is that he likes to run up front and score Stage Points. His 30 Stage Points on the Superspeedways this year is fifth-best. I will have Keselowski in the Garage as an insurance policy Sunday.
* I would love to use Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell in this race but I only have two allocations with them. These three drivers are too good at the smaller tracks to use up all of my allocations this week. If you have three or more allocations left with any of these drivers, I would use them over Bubba Wallace, William Byron and Brad Keselowski (in that order).
Fantasy Live has a new Bonus Picks section this year. Instead of selecting the winning team or manufacturer, we will earn 10 bonus points for selecting the driver who finishes the best in a Head-to-Head matchup. Here are my picks for the matchups…
TYLER REDDICK vs. AUSTIN DILLON (My Pick: TYLER REDDICK)
WILLIAM BYRON vs. DENNY HAMLIN (My pick is DENNY HAMLIN)
CHRISTOPHER BELL vs. NOAH GRAGSON (My pick is CHRISTOPHER BELL)
BUBBA WALLACE vs. CHRIS BUESCHER (My pick is BUBBA WALLACE)
Good luck and be sure to follow me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR. I will send out a Tweet during the race to let you know if I plan to swap out one of my drivers for my Garage pick.
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