The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will travel to Talladega Superspeedway this week for the GEICO 500. This is the second race of the season on a Superspeedway. If you love high speeds and lots of action, this is the race for you. The GEICO 500 can be seen Sunday at 2pm ET on Fox.
The race at Talladega was pretty good last April. Brad Keselowski dominated the early portion of the race and won Stage 1. Denny Hamlin was pushed by his Joe Gibbs Racing to dominate the middle portion of the race to win Stage 2. The race at Talladega was quiet until 20-laps to go. There were 34 drivers on the lead lap until AJ Allmendinger spun Chase Elliott and took out 10 cars. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won the pole and held off Kyle Busch to win at the Track Too Tough To Tame.
Race Rewind at Talladega: GEICO 500 (2017)
DraftKings NASCAR Preview
This race Sunday comes down to one thing… place differential points. There are only 188 laps in the race. That means there are only 94 bonus points available for fastest laps and 47 bonus points available for leading laps. These points tend to get spread out between 15 drivers in the field so fastest laps and laps led points will not win you your contest Sunday.
My strategy on the Superspeedways has worked really well in DraftKings contest. My rule is to avoid all of the drivers who qualify inside the top 20 and try to pick as many as possible who start outside the top 25. Scoring as many place differential points as possible will win you money this week.
Do not be afraid to leave a large portion of your salary on the table Sunday. It is more important to have the right combination of drivers who start in the back than it is to max out your salary cap.
Top 15 DraftKings Drivers in Last 4 Races at Talladega
|Avg. Finish Pos.||Avg.Laps Led||DK Points|
1. Gray Gaulding
2. Ty Dillon
3. Aric Almirola
4. David Ragan
5. Jamie McMurray
6. Cole Whitt
7. Brad Keselowski
8. Kyle Larson
9. Brendan Gaughan
10. Kurt Busch
11. AJ Allmendinger
12. Joey Logano
13. Clint Bowyer
14. Denny Hamlin
15. Kevin Harvick
Do not worry about selecting dominators for this race. The driver who leads the most laps usually leads around 40 laps. That is only 10 bonus points. Focus on place differential points in this race.
The drivers who could be the top value picks for the race Saturday night include: Aric Almirola, Paul Menard, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., AJ Allmendinger and Ryan Newman
The drivers I expect to be the best cheap drivers for the race Saturday night include: Kasey Kahne, David Ragan, Ty Dillon, Gray Gaulding and Landon Cassill
I will post my final DraftKings picks after qualifying on Saturday.
Fantasy Live Preview
My Fantasy Live picks are still performing well. The picks are ranked 214th overall and are beating 99.9% of the entries. I used some allocations at Richmond that I was hoping not to use but after evaluating the remaining tracks, I will be fine on my allocation management the rest of the season.
It will be very important to try and save allocations with your top drivers this week. This is the most unpredictable track on the circuit. The last thing you want to do is to use Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick at this track and have them crash on the last lap and finish outside the top 30.
*Pick for the Pole*: Our pick for the pole needs to be in before qualifying at 1p.m. ET on Saturday. My pick for the pole will be posted after the first practice Friday (2 p.m. ET) on the front page of this website.
**Garage Driver: I have been doing my best to keep everyone informed by using my Twitter account @MrFantasyNASCAR. I will do it again Sunday so make sure you follow me and get all of the information about the cars as I scan the drivers throughout the race.
*** My final picks for Fantasy Live will be posted after qualifying on Saturday. I also post picks for the new NASCAR America Fantasy Live game.
Here are the drivers I have penciled in right now…
5 Starting Drivers
Brad Keselowski (8) is the best driver at Talladega and I am not afraid to use an allocation with him this week. I have not used Keselowski much this season. He has a series-high 5 wins at this track, including the race last October. I am loading up my lineup with Fords this week and Keselowski will be the driver to lead them to Victory Lane.
Clint Bowyer (9) is really good at the Superspeedways and he is better at Talladega than he is at Daytona. Bowyer has two wins at this track on his resume. Both of his wins came at Richard Childress Racing when he was working with Kevin Harvick in the pack. Now the two are teamed up at Stewart-Haas Racing. I expect Bowyer to continue his outstanding 2018 season at Talladega.
Aric Almirola (10) is my pick to win this week. Stewart-Haas Racing desperately wants to get the No. 10 and No. 41 cars to Victory Lane so they can lock up their playoff spots and join Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer in the playoffs. With a good car this week, Almirola can win this race. He has a series-best 6.4 average finishing position in the last 6 races on the Superspeedways. Here are his last 6 finishes: 8th, 4th, 4th, 5th and 11th. That is outstanding. Almirola may be the best pick in the field for this race.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (9) has won 2 of the last 4 races on the Superspeedways. Stenhouse may crash at every other track on the circuit but he has been really good at staying out of trouble at Talladega. You must pick safe drivers for your team this week and Stenhouse is about as safe as they come.
Paul Menard (9) is a great pick this week. He has the second-best average finishing position (8th) in the last 6 Superspeedway races. Menard is almost a lock for a 12th-place finish this week. Most fantasy players would take a 12th-place finish from Menard at Talladega if it was offered to them now. Since 2014 his worst finish at a Superspeedway is 13th. That makes him a safe option this week.
I plan to have Joey Logano (5) in the garage this week. Team Penske Racing has won 4 of the last 6 races at Talladeag and 2 of those wins were from Logano. He is very good at staying out of trouble and keeping his car up front in this race. Logano would be a great insurance policy to have in the Garage this week.
My Bonus Picks will be updated after I see the cars on the track this weekend. Here are my thoughts right now…
Pole Winner: Chase Elliott
Stage 1 Winner: Denny Hamlin
Stage 2 Winner: Brad Keselowski
Race Winner: Aric Almirola
Winning Manufacturer: Ford
Fantrax Bronze Point Salary Cap Game Preview
My Fantrax Bronze Point Salary Cap pick were pretty good at Richmond. I was winning my league until Martin Truex Jr. had problems in the pits and fell from 1st to 14th. That hurt. Overall it has not been too bad in my first year playing this game. My picks are 2nd in my league standing s with plenty of time to get to the top. I hope you are having success in your leagues as well.
The practice sessions will not help us very much this week because we usually do not learn much from the practice speeds. Starting position does not matter much either, so the drivers I have penciled in now will likely be my starters Sunday.
I made another trade this week. I traded Michael McDowell for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Talladega is one of the best tracks for Stenhouse and he won this race last year. I expect him to be a great pick for the race Sunday.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
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