The field is set for Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway with Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano on the front row. If this is your first superspeedway NASCAR DFS slate, you must understand this week isn’t like the past few weeks. The rules for lineup construction evolve thanks to the nature of this track. If you haven’t done so, I encourage you to check out my preview where I outline why these weeks are so different and how you adjust your process to reflect these adjustments. Let’s dive into this week’s top DraftKings and FanDuel NASCAR DFS picks for the GEICO 500.
GEICO 500 NASCAR DFS Picks for DraftKings + FanDuel Lineups
Denny Hamlin, 1st ($12,500 FanDuel, $10,000 DraftKings) GPP
This pick has all the makings of blowing up and is specially reserved for tournaments as leverage. No other starting position has a greater chance of ending up with negative points and ruining a lineup. If building single-entry or three-max tournament lineups, do not play the pole sitter.
However, this is Hamlin, who won the fall race from the same starting position and led 26 laps in the process. This is the same Hamlin who has been about as good as a driver can be in superspeedway races with two wins last year and no finish outside of the top five at superspeedways since the fall-Talladega race of 2019. In just the past four superspeedway races, Hamlin is averaging 20 more DraftKings points than his next closest competitor. Hamlin has the highest odds to win Sunday at +650. If anyone could pull off being in the optimal lineup from the pole at Talladega, it would be him.
Ryan Blaney, 7th ($13,500 FanDuel, $10,100 DraftKings) GPP
Blaney comes into this Sunday with the week’s third-highest betting odds at +1000 on DraftKings Sportsbook. Expect the enthusiasm behind Blaney’s odds to be matched by his ownership as he should be one of the higher-owned drivers despite his high starting position.
The case for Blaney is simple: He will find his way to the front. In three straight races at Talladega, Blaney has led at least 10 or more laps. He’s led at least four or more laps in five straight Talladega events. As time has gone on, Blaney’s familiarity and comfort with this track have increased and he has no issue making his way to the lead and staying there. In his time in the No. 12, Blaney has only failed to finish eight laps under green at Talladega, out of six races, suggesting that he has a knack for avoiding wrecks here and should be a factor for the win.
The cons to Blaney are just two-fold, this starting position and ownership. If past races are any indication, don’t assume playing Blaney pulls the wool over the sheep’s eyes. His reputation goes before him and he will carry high ownership across both DraftKings and FanDuel.
Aric Almirola, 14th ($12,000 FanDuel, $8,700 DraftKings) GPP
Almirola is where most DFS players will start to hem-haw about whether they can start playing drivers this far forward. Starting 14th, he offers some meat on the bone to dig into for place differential. However, not so much that the majority of the field will be on him. He has a pretty impeccable track history in superspeedway races, especially with his latest win coming here in the fall of 2018 — part of an eight-race string of top-10 finishes at Talladega.
However, since his third-place finish at Talladega last June, Almirola has only one other top-20 finish in his superspeedway resume including two wrecks. Assuming Almirola hasn’t lost his knack for superspeedway racing and he returns to prior form, he should make an interesting tournament option.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 17th ($11,000 FanDuel, $8,500 DraftKings) GPP
In a week where neither site gave too much attention to salaries, both DraftKings and FanDuel did manage to price up Stenhouse. However, disregard how much salary is leftover; Stenhouse being expensive means nothing. The only impact these salaries may have is limiting just how many unique combinations of lineups Stenhouse can be in.
Regardless, Stenhouse is offering either a DNF or a top-10 finish wherein he’s competing for the win on the last lap. In the Summer, Stenhouse finished second to Ryan Blaney finishing mere inches behind him for the win. Fast forward to the fall and Stenhouse wrecks out in 38th place. Playing Stenhouse is all about the level of volatility manageable, especially with him not starting in the 20s.
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Corey LaJoie, 26th ($4,000 FanDuel, $5,600 DraftKings) Cash/ GPP
Over the last 10 races at superspeedways, LaJoie actually leads the field in laps run (1.845). What’s that amount to… LaJoie is consistently on the track more than any other driver in Sunday’s field. Despite racing for different teams and manufacturers, LaJoie consistently finds a way to finish these superspeedway races. Starting from the 26th position, LaJoie gives me place differential paired with a high probability to actually finish the race.
Justin Haley, 34th ($3,500 FanDuel, $5,900 DraftKings) Cash/ GPP
Before this season, Haley hadn’t always had ample opportunities to race in the Cup Series. However, now he’s getting plenty of seat time in the No. 77. Whether the car makes it past the first lap is a whole other issue. Before this ride, Haley got sparse opportunities with Spire driving the No. 77 in superspeedway races. For a young, part-time driver, Haley was always impressive winning the 2019 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona and finishing 11th in the fall 2020 Talladega race. This foundation laid by his time in the No. 16 Kaulig car where he racked up three wins at Daytona and Talladega.
Now Haley has even more experience, starting near the back, for a team that made Daytona a priority and should put that same level of attention to Daytona. To boot, Haley’s teammate Corey LaJoie is one of the better superspeedway racers as mentioned above. These two should stay locked up together for most of Sunday meaning where one finishes the other shouldn’t be far behind.
Kaz Grala, 38th ($5,000 FanDuel, $5,800 DraftKings) Cash
Harrison Burton, 39th ($3,000 FanDuel, $7,900 DraftKings) Cash
Valentine’s Day was the last time Grala raced. In his maiden voyage in the Cup Series, he started 40 and finished 28th after ending his day on lap 115. He probably will not offer anything different, save for the DVP part of this equation. That places him squarely in line for cash but not needed in tournaments.
Harrison Burton lumps into this pool, starting one position behind Grala. Burton will make his first-ever Cup start piloting the No. 96 for Gaunt Brothers Racing. Burton has an average finish of 27.5 in two Xfinity starts at Talladega, so there isn’t much upside. If searching for upside, Burton does have three top-five finishes in the Xfinity Series at Daytona. That being said, Burton likely will not show the aggressiveness he would need to finish in the top 10, much less the top five.
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