Following Kyle Busch‘s victory on the dirt at Bristol, NASCAR heads south to Alabama. Let’s dive into the track information NASCAR DFS players need to know, what to expect for this weekend’s running of the GEICO 500 at Talladega and some early NASCAR fantasy picks.
NASCAR DFS Preview: GEICO 500 at Talladega
Talladega Superspeedway Information
- Track: Talladega Speedway
- Location: Lincoln, Alabama
- Length: 2.66-mile D-shaped oval (asphalt)
- Banking: 32-33 degrees (60/120/188)
- Dominator Points:
- DraftKings: 47 – laps led, 84.6 – fastest laps
- FanDuel: 18.8 – laps led
- Past winners: Bubba Wallace (Fall 2021), Brad Keselowski (Spring 2021)
- Betting favorite: Bubba Wallace, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney +1100 (BetMGM)
- Entry List: All 36 Chartered Teams, including David Ragan (15), Daniel Hemric (16) and Landon Cassill (77), plus the unchartered J.J. Yeley (56), Greg Biffle (44) and Noah Gragson (62).
- Weather: High of 85, mostly sunny
- Watch: FOX
- Listen: MRN (MRN, NASCAR.com, NASCAR Sirius/ XM Channel 90)
On Track Schedule (All Times Eastern)
- Saturday, April 23
- 10 a.m.: qualifying
- Sunday, April 24
- 3 p.m.: green flag
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GEICO 500 NASCAR DFS Preview
After racing on the half-mile bullring of Bristol Motor Speedway, NASCAR moves to its largest venue in the 2.66-mile superspeedway at Talladega. To say that racing couldn’t be any different from one Sunday to the next would nearly be an understatement.
For those still unfamiliar with NASCAR, Talladega falls into the track category of “Superspeedway,” a term generally saved for tracks that are two miles or longer that also aren’t road courses. This categorization places Talladega in the realm of tracks like Daytona, Auto Club in Fontana, California and Michigan. However, due to the rules package NASCAR will use this Sunday, Talladega’s only true comparison is Daytona. In fact, races at Talladega truly do mimic that of Daytona with pack racing, drafting and the potential for a big wreck that can’t take out half the field at any moment. Here’s just one example from the 2012 fall playoff race.
Due to these factors, the way that DFS players approached the Daytona 500 is largely the way they should approach this Sunday. The bulk of lineups should consist of drivers starting in the latter half of the field to capitalize on drivers with place differential and finishing position upside and minimize risk to drivers who can have scores go negative just to positions lost from the start to finish. Over the past six races at Talladega, the top 10 average DraftKings scores consist of drivers starting 30th, 16th, 20th, 25th, 21st, 33rd, 40th, 38th, 24th and seventh. On the flip side, the 10 worst average DraftKings scores are coming from drivers who started third, second, 11th, 17th, sixth, fifth, 12th, 15th, 18th and fourth.
Furthermore, worrying about “dominator” points is a bit of a fool’s errand. The fastest laps will end up being pretty random throughout the race, dependent on where drivers were in the draft from lap to lap. It’s a safe bet to just assume that everyone is going to leave Talladega with three to four fastest laps. Also, chasing laps-led bonus points can be a great way to submarine a lineup. The positions that typically lead the most laps all start top 12 are higher, but their average DraftKings scoring ranks barely scratch the top 10.
The final thing to be mindful of is not all place differential options are created equal. Besides grabbing place differential, drivers really need to be able to fight for a top-15 finish. In fact, those drivers who have less place differential potential (drivers starting in the teens) really have to push for top-five finishes. Over the past four races at Talladega, no driver in the DraftKings optimal lineup has finished worse than 13th. On FanDuel, where finishing position is really going to matter in a race with so few laps, zero of the past four optimal lineups saw a driver finish outside of the top 10.
Once DFS players take a step back, Superspeedway slates are pretty simple from a game theory perspective. However, those playing this weekend have to be mindful of the fact that one wreck can flip the slate on its head and remove a vast majority of one’s player pool, should their portfolio of drivers not be diversified enough.
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