DraftKings NASCAR DFS Advice: Talladega
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Welcome to the ultimate equalizer, Superspeedway racing. If you’re a newer fan to the sport of NASCAR, you’re in for an experience unlike any other this weekend as the Cup Series travels to take on the Talladega Superspeedway!
As NASCAR’s biggest oval track on the schedule, Talladega is one of two tracks on the Cup Series schedule where the teams run the Superspeedway package. The purpose of this is to keep cars at a more manageable and safer speed. As a result, the field is more equalized, and the cars end up racing in a pack.
Anything can happen in a blink of an eye at this track, so my advice if you’re playing DFS is not to bother checking your lineups during the race. Drivers can be in the lead on one lap and in 20th the next. With this type of racing, DFS players can look toward the lower-funded teams that they wouldn’t usually use, as they are much likelier to bring home solid finishes this week. So while DFS at Talladega can be difficult to navigate, here are the divers that I would target and avoid in this week’s DraftKings contest.
Drivers to Target
Aric Almirola (#10, Stewart-Haas Racing)
DK Price: $6,800
Starting Position: 15th
Despite the uncertainty that comes with Superspeedway racing, Almirola has been one of the top drivers at it. Both of his two career wins have come on Superspeedway tracks, and that includes a win here in 2018. Almirola ranks first in average finish over the past 10 races at this track at 9.6, and that includes seven straight top-10 finishes. With the 24th-highest salary this week, Almirola is a great pick for Sunday’s race even though he rolls off 15th. He should be one of the favorites and is a cheap option in this contest.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (#47, JTG Daugherty Racing)
DK Price: $8,400
Starting Position: 20th
Ricky Stenhouse Jr is another value-based target. Stenhouse is one of the most aggressive drivers at this type of racing, but it has paid off for him in the past. Like Almirola, both of Stenhouse’s Cup Series victories have come at Superspeedway tracks. Currently ranked second among drivers in average finish at this track over the past five seasons, Stenhouse has six top-10 finishes during that stretch and is a solid bet to outperform his 20th-place starting position.
Brendan Gaughan (#62, Beard Motorsports)
DK Price: $7,600
Starting Position: 39th
If you’ve just recently checked out NASCAR during quarantine, you probably have never heard of Brendan Gaughan. A NASCAR veteran, Gaughan has been out of full-time competition for a few seasons, and he runs only the Superspeedway races with Beard Motorsports. So why take a chance on a part-time driver with a part-time team? Starting position, my friend. Gaughan won’t be a contender for the win like Almirola and Stenhouse, but he’s a veteran who knows how to race at Talladega. And when you are starting second to last in the field, the place differential points are there for the taking at a fairly reasonable price.
Ryan Preece (#37, JTG Daugherty Racing)
DK Price: $6,200
Starting Position: 31st
Stenhouse’s teammate at JTG Daugherty Racing, Ryan Preece, is my bargain-bin pick of the week. With the 28th-highest salary in this weekend’s contest, Preece is someone who you can plug into your roster while spending money elsewhere. As I mentioned before, Superspeedway racing is all about luck, but Preece has shown the ability to avoid trouble and remain in contention at the end of these races. In both of his starts at Talladega in his rookie year, Preece finished third and 18th, and he was still running at the end of both races. Drivers don’t have much control here, but starting deep in the field in competitive equipment makes him a fine play this week.
Drivers to Avoid
Martin Truex Jr. (#19 Joe Gibbs Racing)
DK Price: $9,000
Starting Position: 1st
This week, it’s fairly easy to stay away from the higher salary drivers, as almost everyone has a shot at a good result. However, there are still some drivers that haven’t had success here, and Truex is one of them. Starting from the pole position doesn’t help him for DFS, but there are other arguments against Truex as well. He hasn’t finished better than 20th at Talladega since the 2016 spring race, and he’s only lead a combined 13 laps in the past seven races here. I wouldn’t look to spend up for him this week.
Christopher Bell (#95 Leavine Family Racing)
DK Price: $9,700
Starting Position: 35th
Christopher Bell will again start toward the rear of the field on Sunday, which will again give him a good opportunity to score place differential points. However, Bell’s salary continues to rise each week, and he now carries the fifth-highest price tag in the contest. And once again that’s, just too much for me. With many other drivers starting just as deep in the field for a much lower price, Bell isn’t intriguing to me. Save yourself the $2,100 and start Brendan Gaughan.
Clint Bowyer (#14 Stewart-Haas Racing)
DK Price: $9,900
Starting Position: 10th
Again, no driver is a “bad” play this week, but I’m probably not spending up for many drivers at the top of the board. And that includes Clint Bowyer. Bowyer has the fourth-highest salary in Sunday’s contest, but he hasn’t shown the same success at this track as the drivers priced around him have. Although Bowyer finished second here back in the 2018 fall race, that’s his only finish better than 23rd in his past five Talladega races. If you’re going to spend big on a driver this week, I’d look elsewhere.
Matt DiBenedetto (#21 Wood Brothers Racing)
DK Price: $7,800
Starting Position: 23rd
Matt DiBenedetto was a great story the last time the series raced at this track, and he ran up front most of the day before getting taken out in a late-race caution. Stuff like that happens. However, even with that, DiBenedetto has had some really bad luck at this track — and that’s despite the equalizer of the Superspeedway package. Among active drivers, Matty D ranks 32nd in average finish at 28.0, and he has never had a finish better than 18th at this track. Coming to Talladega in the best equipment he has ever driven may help his chances, but his past results make him someone to avoid on Sunday.