This article is part of our DFS NASCAR series.
Location: Talladega, Ala.
Course: Talladega Superspeedway
Format: 2.66-mile tri-oval
Kurt Busch became the first playoff driver to enter the next round of championship eliminations with an unlikely win last week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver went from last in the playoff standings to securing his spot in the round that will determine the final four drivers eligible to win the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series championship later this fall at Phoenix International Raceway. Up next for the remaining playoff drivers are two wild-card races that could further mix up the championship picture. Busch's win puts brother Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, and Austin Dillon on the outside looking in.
This week's trial is the YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. The track, like Daytona, is known for it's pack-style racing that produces huge crashes. The draft and big crashes have the potential to produce unlikely winners and fantasy players can look deeper in the driver pool to find viable bargains than most other weeks. Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch will start alongside each other on the front row and lead the field to the green flag Sunday afternoon.
Key Stats at Talladega Superspeedway
- Number of races: 102
- Winners from pole: 13
- Winners from top-5 starters: 55
- Winners from top-10 starters: 72
- Winners from 21st or lower starters: 8
- Fastest race: 188.354 mph
Previous 10 Talladega Winners
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
2015 fall - Joey Logano
Horsepower and drafting partners are the necessary ingredients to win at Talladega. A healthy dose of good fortune to avoid any crashes is also usually a necessity. As we've seen at all of the recent superspeedway races recently teams and manufacturers will work together to draft as a unit, squeezing any interlopers out of the group. The teams will coordinate their pit stops, if any should happen under green-flag conditions, to ensure a group of cars large enough to generate speed when they return to the track. We've also seen cars with damage can often climb further up the finishing order and even remain in the draft if they are able to remain running in the draft. Any unscheduled trips down pit road will leave a driver off the lead lap and out of the draft, which could take significant time to recover from. With playoff implications on the line, every stage finish will be hotly contested.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
DraftKings Tier 1 Values
DraftKings Tier 2 Values
DraftKings Tier 3 Values
DraftKings Long-Shot Values
MY PICKS THIS WEEK
Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)
Former Talladega winner Chase Elliott (DK $10,500, FD $11,800) has two wins so far this season and is always a driver to watch on the superspeedways. He led laps in six of his nine Talladega starts, including three earlier this year at Talladega before crashing out. Brad Keselowski (DK $9,900, FD $11,200) is usually a name that rises to the top of the list at Talladega. He won this race in 2017 along with two other Talladega spring visits. Aric Almirola (DK $8,500, FD $10,700) is another former Talladega victor. He won 2018's edition of this race and was third in the spring race. Races with Richard Petty Motorsports are winding down for Bubba Wallace (DK $7,700, FD $6,600), and this week could be his last real opportunity to put the No. 43 in Victory Lane. Wallace punches above his weight on the superspeedway tracks and had a best finish of 14th at Talladega just this spring. Alex Bowman (DK $7,500, FD $8,600) is a real bargain in this lineup. In 10 Talladega starts he has three top-10 finishes, including a runner-up last season and seventh this past spring. Michael McDowell (DK $5,700, FD $4,500) should be a go-to driver at Talladega. He always runs near the front of the field and could be in contention at the end. He finished fifth in this race last season.
Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)
Joey Logano (DK $10,300, FD $11,600) and his Penske Racing teammates have combined to win four of the last six Talladega races. Logano has three wins at this track and has led laps in nine of his last 10 starts at the track. Denny Hamlin (DK $9,700, FD $11,400) will start on pole this week. His one Talladega win came in 2014, but he led 18 laps and finished fourth there earlier this season. Not many drivers are more exciting to watch at a superspeedway than Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (DK $8,800, FD $11,000). He won from pole at Talladega in 2017 and raced to the runner-up spot in the spring after starting 20th. Tyler Reddick (DK $7,900, FD $9,600) won the Xfinity Series visit to Talladega last season and then led 19 laps in this year's race in the Cup Series. He is a rookie fantasy players should feel comfortable choosing this week. Austin Dillon (DK $7,300, FD $8,000) could be another bargain this week. He and Richard Childress Racing teammate Reddick have been excellent on the superspeedways this season. Dillon doesn't have the consistent top finishes at Talladega that would make other drivers of his caliber more expensive options. Like Michael McDowell, Chris Buescher (DK $6,000, FD $5,500) is another driver fantasy owners should always consider on tracks like Talladega. In 10 track starts he has just one top-10, but is always capable racing in the draft. He was sixth in the spring race earlier this year.