NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: GEICO 500
After having last week off from DFS NASCAR, we are back at it for a race at Talladega. It also marks the one-year anniversary of FanDuel hosting NASCAR contests!
For this race, we are looking at a much different race then some that we have seen in the last month, and it's even different then previous Talladega races. Since this will be the first race at the track without restrictor plates in over 30 years. Instead of trying to find drivers who are going to lead laps (more on why not in a moment), we should be more focused on finding place differential and guys who are going to finish well. And some of the lineups you build are going to look very scary, possibly with a lot of salary left on the table. But that's OK! Because the "safest" strategy to run with at this track is rostering drivers starting 20th or worse, which, again, will lead you into some lineups that would look weird on any other week.
As a general note for all of these drivers, the speeds that these cars were running during both practices far exceed what any of these drivers are used to, especially at Talladega, where they were running races with restrictor plates for so many years. Since the inception of stage racing in 2017, Did Not Finish (DNF) rates at Talladega races have been in the 35% to 40% range. And I expect these numbers to be even higher based on driver comments and some of the crazy runs drivers had in practice. If you are putting together multiple lineups, it's probably the best bet not have more than 40% exposure to any one driver, no matter how good of a spot they might be in.
Here at numberFire, we've always got you covered for everything NASCAR DFS. Our track preview gives you more information about Richmond, our driver preview helps bring you up to speed on recent driver history, and our Heat Check Podcast with Jim Sannes gives you insight to how he is approaching this weekend's slate.
Kyle Busch ($14,000) - Starting in 22nd, Busch is the epitome of what we want to see from a driver when evaluating whether or not to roster them. Not that practice matters too much at these types of tracks, but it is good to see that Busch ran the fifth-fastest short run speed in final practice. Based on recent history, it seems as if Busch favors the spring race here, seeing as he has finished in the top three in two of the past three spring events. He will be popular and is expensive, but Busch is as safe as it gets at Talladega.
Denny Hamlin ($12,800) - In the spot right behind Busch, we have teammate Hamlin. What makes Hamlin interesting (and this could apply to Busch, as well) is that racing strategies such as tandem drafting and/or team drafting might come in to play as seen in the this clip from practice. As teammates who have already clinched playoff spots and guys who would like to accumulate more playoff points, the two of them could easily draft off of one another throughout the race, which would be solid for the fantasy upside of both. Add in teammates Martin Truex Jr. and Erik Jones (more on him in a bit), who are starting not that far away, and you have yourselves a Joe Gibbs Racing draft party that could be replicated by other teams throughout the race if seen as successful early on. If that's the case, this should only improve Hamlin's fantasy stock for the race.
Jimmie Johnson ($9,500) - Most of the time this season, I would be hesitant to roster Johnson -- but not here. He is starting in 21st and has plenty of experience under his belt, which can help him avoid "the big one." Older drivers like Johnson understand more than anyone the need to be patient here. This skill is even more important when speeds increase like they are this week. There is certainly no reason to exclude Johnson from your player pool today as there is always the chance of him being in the optimal lineup at a track like this.
Erik Jones ($8,500) - Though salary is not as important this week, the fact that Jones is only $8,500 is egregious enough that it should make him one of the most popular drivers on the slate. Starting in 27th, Jones is deep enough to have a ton of place-differential upside, and Jones won the 2018 Daytona summer race from a starting spot way back in 29th. As long as Jones keeps his nose clean in this race, he should come through in DFS.
Ryan Newman ($7,300) and William Byron ($7,200) - The reason why I am putting both of these guys together is because they are essentially the same driver this week, starting 24th and 25th, respectively. And, of course, there's only a $100 price difference. The only knock that I would have on either of these drivers is that Byron, being a younger driver, is more prone to being aggressive, which could get him into trouble -- like he was in last spring's Talladega race. Other than that, they are both fine plays and have the upside to get the job done.
Matt DiBenedetto ($7,000) - Starting in 26th, the number 95 team is certainly in play. While DiBenedetto has not had great track history here, this team has had some recent success at the track. In the 2018 fall race, Regan Smith (substitute driver for Kasey Kahne at the time) drove what was a mechanically inferior vehicle to a 10th-place finish. Now in much better equipment, the number 95 car is even better, and the driver is equally -- if not more -- skilled. Don't forget about DiBenedetto when building your lineups this week.
Chris Buescher ($6,200) - Another driver starting in the back, Buescher will begin in 31st. To me, Buescher is one of the more underrated drivers on the circuit, and he certainly deserves more credit than he gets. He should be on our radar in all formats this week because of the place-differential upside that he carries. On the down side, he's likely to carry a good bit of ownership.
Ryan Preece ($6,000) - Drafting buddies you say? That sounds like something that could happen between Buescher (starting 31st) and Preece (30th), who happen to be teammates. While Preece has had some struggles in his rookie season, he should offer differential-upside here barring a car issue. You might get him at lower ownership, too, if the masses flock to Buescher instead.
Other Drivers To Consider: This applies to all price ranges, but consider everyone starting 20th or back. Yes, even the homie Ross Chastain.
Evan Cheney is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Evan Cheney also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username theman90210. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.