DFS NASCAR: GEICO 500

DFS NASCAR: GEICO 500

This article is part of our DFS NASCAR series.

GEICO 500

Location: Talladega, Ala.
Course: Talladega Superspeedway
Format: 2.66-mile tri-oval
Laps: 188

Race Preview

Alex Bowman enters this week's race as the eighth different winner in the first nine races of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season. The Hendrick Motorsports driver stole the victory from what was shaping up to be a bilateral battle in the final laps between Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano. Bowman snookered both in the final restart and drove away to lead the final 10 laps to capture the checkered flag. Hamlin wondered how another win slipped through his fingers, and he was forced to look ahead to this week's GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, where he won from pole last fall. Fittingly, he starts from pole again this week with Logano alongside in second. Both drivers will be anxious to avoid losing out on yet another win at this wild 2.66-mile high-banked oval, but Talladega's races tend to be unpredictable, and a ninth-different winner could easily be in the cards Sunday.

Key Stats at Talladega Superspeedway

  • Number of races: 103
  • Winners from pole: 14
  • Winners from top-5 starters: 56
  • Winners from top-10 starters: 73
  • Winners from 21st or lower starters: 8
  • Fastest race: 188.354 mph

Previous 10 Talladega Winners

2020 fall - Denny Hamlin
2020 spring - Ryan Blaney
2019 fall - Ryan Blaney
2019 spring - Chase Elliott
2018 fall - Aric Almirola
2018 spring - Joey Logano
2017 fall - Brad Keselowski
2017 spring - Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
2016 fall - Joey Logano
2016 spring - Brad Keselowski

Speed and drafting with teammates have become the most important ingredients to success when racing at Talladega. Manufacturers will bind together and plan strategies so as to maximize the chances that one of their cars will come out on top. Teammates will immediately work to find one another in the draft and operate as a singular unit, pitting together, holding back, or moving forward as one. The goal is to remain as safe as possible throughout the race to avoid any crashes that can wipe out half of the field. Those who remain as the laps wind down will then work to move forward to be in position to attack for the lead at the perfect opportunity, sometimes even the final corner. With Talladega's emphasis on drafting, any unscheduled trips down pit road will leave a driver out of the pack and laps down to the leaders. Recent superspeedway races have also proven that a damaged car can sometimes still be a factor in the finish. With Talladega's unpredictable nature, teams have every incentive to continue working if they are involved in an early wreck. Fantasy players should construct their lineups with a favorite or two, but must be careful not to ignore values in the lower price ranges as the draft can be an equalizer among teams.

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values  

Brad Keselowski - $10,500
Chase Elliott - $10,300
Ryan Blaney - $10,100
Denny Hamlin - $10,000

DraftKings Tier 2 Values  

Joey Logano - $9,800
Kyle Larson - $9,400
Kyle Busch - $9,200
Alex Bowman - $9,000

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Aric Almirola - $8,700
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $8,500
Matt DiBenedetto - $8,200
William Byron - $8,000

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Austin Dillon - $7,700
Erik Jones - $7,500
Christopher Bell - $7,400
Bubba Wallace - $7,000

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Brad Keselowski - $10,500
Denny Hamlin - $10,000
William Byron - $8,800
Austin Dillon - $7,700
Erik Jones - $7,500
Chris Buescher - $6,300

Fantasy players should remember this week that Brad Keselowski (DK $10,500, FD $14,000) and teammate Logano were battling for the win when they crashed in the Daytona 500 earlier this season. The pair were contenders at the front up to that point and, arguably, one of them should have won. Winless Keselowski should therefore be a confident selection this week given his five wins at the track. Pole-sitter Hamlin (DK $10,000, FD $12,500) is also winless but won at the track last season and has the pole position for this weekend's race. He has finished fourth or better in four of the last five Talladega races, too. William Byron (DK $8,800, FD $7,700) has a superspeedway win on his resume and finished fourth last time out at this track. He will start on the second row this week, and Hendrick Motorsports typically has very quick superspeedway cars. Austin Dillon (DK $7,700, FD $8,200) has a great record at superspeedways including a Daytona 500 win. He has three Talladega top-10s from 15 series starts. This circuit also gives someone like Erik Jones (DK $7,500, FD $7,000) the chance to mix it up among the leaders. He has three top-10s from eight Talladega starts and should be capable of scoring his best finish of the season so far at this track this week. Chris Buescher (DK $6,300, FD $6,800) should also be optimistic about his chances this week. He is on the cusp of a playoff position in the standings, finished sixth in this race last season and led 19 laps in his last two visits to Talladega.

Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Ryan Blaney - $10,100
Aric Almirola - $8,700
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $8,500
Matt DiBenedetto - $8,200
Christopher Bell - $7,400
Bubba Wallace - $7,000

Penske Racing's Ryan Blaney (DK $10,100, FD $13,500) won back-to-back races at Talladega, the second of which was this race last season. He led 108 laps in the last three races here, too. Blaney will start seventh on Sunday and is usually a potential winner at superspeedways. Aric Almirola (DK $8,700, FD $12,000) is also a usual suspect among superspeedway leaders. He won at Talladega in 2018 and finished in the top 10 at the track in eight of the last nine races there, too. His top-10 finish last week could be the boost he needs to finish well again this week. Talladega might be Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s (DK $8,500, FD $11,000) best track. He will start 17th Sunday and won this race from pole in 2017. He was second in this race last year. Another driver who might have put early-season trouble behind him is Matt DiBenedetto (DK $8,200, FD $7,300). He finished in the top-15 the last five races, and last week's was his first top-10 of the year. A pair of 18th-place Talladega finishes are his best at the track, but he led 10 laps here last fall, making him an attractive selection this week. Christopher Bell's (DK $7,400, FD $9,000) best Cup Series finish at this track is only 29th, but he was second in his Daytona qualifying race earlier this year and led 32 laps of that Daytona 500, too. His lack of top Cup finishes at this track make him a value for fantasy players this week. Fantasy players are also well aware of Bubba Wallace's (DK $7,000, FD $6,500) abilities at tracks like Talladega. His best Talladega finish is 14th from six starts, but he led 10 laps at the track last fall and should be considered to have a real chance of racing for the win this week.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. C.J. Radune plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: cjradune, RaceDayScore: cjradune.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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