The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competes at Talladega Superspeedway this week. This is the second race of the Round of 12 in the 2017 NASCAR Playoffs. The race can be seen Sunday at 2pm ET on NBC.
I followed up my highest point total in Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing at Dover with one of my worst performances at Charlotte. My Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing picks scored 183 points and dropped my picks to the top 97 percentile (1,082). I have a lot of work to do in the last six races to finish in the top 99% again. We had a lot of bad luck last week so I am expecting some good luck at Talladega.
The most important thing to know this week is that you MUST save your allocations with your top drivers. Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez should not be in ny starting lineups this week. It is OK to use them for qualifying points but do not use them in the race. Their allocations are too important and you must use them at the more predictable tracks.
Here are my picks for Talladega…
Yahoo Group A Picks
The race at Talladega was the worst race in the history of NASCAR. The Joe Gibbs Racing cars road in the back (except Denny Hamlin) because they had enough points to advance into the Round of 8. This strategy helped create the Stage racing used today. I would be shocked if any drivers road around the back this week and gave up the much needed Stage points. All of the Joe Gibbs Racing drivers will be good picks this week.
All of the drivers are good options in Group A but I do not recommend burning an allocation with Martin Truex Jr. or Kyle Busch this week.
Brad Keselowski (3) currently sits 10th in the playoff standings and only the top eight drivers advance to the next round. He needs a good finish at the most unpredictable track. This is familiar territory for the No. 2 team. In 2014 they were in a “must win” situation at Talladega and Keselowski found his way to Victory Lane. I think he can do it again Sunday. Keselowski has become the best restrictor-plate driver in the sport. He has four wins at Talladega and he has completed 97% of the laps. The Blue Deuce is my pick to win the Alabama 500.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (9) is a good pick at Talladega but he is on my team for qualifying points this week. Earnhardt has qualified 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 4th in his last four races at Talladega. Hendrick Motorsports always brings cars to the Superspeedways that can start up front. I expect Earnhardt to start in the first two rows Sunday and earn my team bonus points for qualifying. I will be in good shape if I have to use Earnhardt in the race. He has a series-best six wins at the track.
Here are my allocations left with the drivers in Group A: Kyle Busch (1), Martin Truex Jr. (2), Brad Keselowski (3), Kevin Harvick (6), Joey Logano (6), Denny Hamlin (7), Jimmie Johnson (8), Matt Kenseth (9), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (9)
Yahoo Group B Picks
Group B is all about saving allocations. You do not want to select the drivers you want to use at the more predictable tracks. The drivers I would not recommend using in the race are Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray or Kurt Busch. Their allocations are too valuable to be used at a track where they do not control their fate. It is OK to use them for qualifying points since Yahoo does not deduct an allocation from your team as long as the driver is not in your starting lineup.
Chase Elliott (2) will have the best chance to qualify up front Sunday. The No. 24 car has the best average starting position in the last five races at Talladega (won 3 of the last 5 poles). Hendrick Motorsports brings fast cars to this track so I expect Elliott to qualify in the top four this week. I will not use Elliott in the race so he is on my team for qualifying points only.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (6) has been the best restrictor-plate driver this year and he has to be the favorite to win Sunday. Stenhouse won the last two races on the Superspeedways (Talladega in May and Daytona in July). He will be looking to match Dale Earnhardt Sr. as the only driver to win three consecutive plate races. Stenhouse has a seventh-place average finishing position at Talladega in the last four races at the track. That is incredibly consistent at such an unpredictable track. Stenhouse is the best pick in the field this week and he will be in my starting lineup Sunday.
Austin Dillon (6) had a streak of 14 races on Superspeedways without a wreck going until I started to brag about him in the last race at Talladega. Dillon was caught up in another driver’s mess and his no-DNF streak came to an end. There is something special about that No. 3 car at Talladega. A race in Alabama would not be right without the No. 3 car up front. Dillon learned at lot about restrictor-plate racing from the Earnhardt’s. I expect him to run well Sunday. The No. 3 car will most likely be in my starting lineup at Talladega.
Paul Menard (9) has been one of the most consistent drivers in the field at Talladega. He has an average finishing position of 11.1 in his last five races at the track. He has qualified in the top 10 in the last three races at Talladega and finished four of his last five races in the top 13. Menard will not be a popular pick this week, but he is a driver who could really help your fantasy team. I will see how he looks in practice and if the No. 27 car is fast I will pair him with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Sunday.
Here are the allocations I have left in Group B: Ryan Blaney (0), Kurt Busch (0), Jamie McMurray (1) , Kyle Larson (1), Chase Elliott (2), Clint Bowyer (3), Ryan Newman (5), Austin Dillon (6), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (6), , AJ Allmendinger (7), Kasey Kahne (8) and all the rest 9.
Yahoo Group C Picks
Do not select Erik Jones or Daniel Suarez for your team this week. They are good drivers who could finish up front but their allocations are too valuable to be used at Talladega. I thought about using one of them for qualifying points but I wanted two drivers to choose from for my starting lineup. I would not be against having either Jones or Suarez on your team for qualifying points if that is the route you choose (Suarez would be my pick over Jones for qualifying points).
Ty Dillon is the best choice in Group C but I only have one allocation left with him. I do not want to burn it at this track so I will be leaving him off my team.
Michael McDowell (4) will be a good choice for Group C. He finished 4th in the last restrictor-plate race at Daytona and he has finished five of his last six races at the Superspeedways in the top 16. I will gladly take a top-16 finish from the No. 95 car this week.
David Ragan (8) has two wins on the Superspeedways (Daytona in 2011 and Talladega in 2013). He really knows his way around these types of tracks so he is one of the best choices for Group C this week. Ragan finished 10th in the May race at Talladega and 10th in the July race at Daytona. He should be on every team this week.
Here are the allocations I have left in Group C: Erik Jones (1), Ty Dillon (1), Daniel Suarez (1), Michael McDowell (4), David Ragan (8) and the rest with 9 allocations.
Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing Team
Group A: Brad Keselowski (3), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (9)
Group B: Chase Elliott (2), Ricky Stenhouse Jr.(6), Austin Dillon (6), Paul Menard (9)
Group C: Michael McDowell (4), David Ragan (8)
I will post my final picks for Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing Saturday after qualifying.
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
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