NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: GEICO 500
If you are looking for an action-packed way to get your sports fix, NASCAR may be a great avenue to explore. Far from just driving in circles, some of the world's best compete nearly every weekend from February to November on tracks across America. NASCAR drivers are scored ultimately based on how they finish in the race, how many spots they advance from their starting position, and how many laps they finish and lead. Avoiding drivers who crash out of the race is a must, of course!
numberFire is always your home for fantasy NASCAR advice. In addition to this helper, Jim Sannes has you covered with his current form and odds breakdown as well as his track preview to spotlight this week's venue. For driver picks and a full preview of the event, Jim also discussed the Daytona 500 on the latest NASCAR episode of The Heat Check Daily Fantasy Podcast.
Another short-track race in Virginia got away from Denny Hamlin late, but ultimately not to Joey Logano, who led 49 of the last 59 laps after passing Hamlin. It was Alex Bowman who stormed by both with 10 to go on a restart and claimed his first win of the season, the first at a short track in his entire career. Bowman was the eighth different winner of 2021, and a ninth could be in store at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend.
The starting lineup for this event was set through NASCAR's general qualifying format, which is a weighted average of the prior race's finishing position, prior race's fastest lap, and driver points. That formula put Hamlin -- not Bowman -- on the pole this weekend, and Logano is on the outside of the front row. Pit stalls for the event were selected in the same order. Key daily fantasy strategy for this weekend is to look for drivers starting in the back, as it raises their floor in the event of an accident and increases their ceiling with place-differential points.
With that in mind, let's preview the GEICO 500 at Talladega on FanDuel.
Denny Hamlin ($12,500): The pole-sitter at a restrictor plate racetrack is typically a bad DFS play due to the risk of a crash and there not being many consistent lap leaders historically at these tracks. Hamlin might be the one exception as the clear top plate option in the sport. Hamlin has top-five finishes in five of his last six races at Daytona or Talladega, and amazingly, he led 98 of 200 laps in this year's Daytona 500. Hamlin is second with 298 laps led since the start of 2018 on these types of tracks. If one combination of driver and team can lead a majority of a race at Talladega, Hamlin would be the guy, and he has no ground to make up to do so starting on the pole.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($11,000): Starting 17th, Stenhouse owns the deepest starting position in this top salary tier, and he has had plenty of success at Daytona and Talladega to boot. The two-time Daytona winner came in second in a photo finish last June at Talladega, losing to Ryan Blaney by inches. Stenhouse also led 51 laps and won both stages in the July 2018 Daytona event, so he has plenty of experience running well at these tracks. His current form is also better than it has ever been to this point in a Cup Series season, as he has posted six top-15 finishes for a JTG Daugherty Racing team that has had plenty of speed.
Kurt Busch ($10,500): There really should be no huge difference in a driver's ability at Daytona and Talladega, as the two racing formats are pretty similar, but Busch has strongly preferred Talladega. Since the start of 2018, Busch's average finish is 26.71 at Daytona, but that climbs all the way to 15.17 at Talladega in the same period. Ironically, Busch's only win on this format is the 2017 Daytona 500, as he still is looking for his first Talladega win. Starting 15th, Busch offers some place-differential upside as well as a race-winning ceiling. Like Stenhouse, Busch drives a Chevrolet, and they will have a race-high 18 vehicles to work together on Sunday.
Ryan Newman ($8,700): Newman's incident last weekend in Richmond leaves him as one of the few weekly challengers for top-15 finishes who enters Talladega with the place-differential upside we covet. He starts 28th. Newman has 11 top-15 finishes in his past 14 restrictor plate events, although one of those top-15 finishes came on his roof as he was battling for the win of the 2020 Daytona 500. Newman is exactly the type of lineup cog needed in a tournament-winning lineup as a back starter with top-10 upside should he be able to survive the madness.
Ryan Preece ($8,000): Stacking teammates is always a tremendous idea at Daytona and Talladega because of the correlation of their finishes from working together. Preece is the lone teammate to Stenhouse, who was already discussed as one of the best targets in the top salary tier. Preece is a great one-off play who is starting 29th, but he also makes sense as a stacking partner with Stenhouse. His performance entering Talladega is what has left him with such a deep starting spot, but Preece's entire career averages have changed dramatically inside the walls of Talladega. He has finished each of his four starts here, placing inside the top-15 spots in three of them. Preece is exactly double his $4,000 salary from last week, which might make him uncomfortable for many to roster, but his starting position and history at Talladega make him plenty appealing nonetheless.
Bubba Wallace ($6,500): As somewhat of the opposite of Kurt Busch, Wallace has been strong at Daytona -- with six top-15 finishes in eight total events -- but less so at Talladega. However, Wallace has still led laps and contended in three straight Talladega races, and this is his strongest format of track historically (18.62 average finish at restrictor plate races). His connection to pole-sitter and favorite Denny Hamlin is also worth noting, as Hamlin owns Wallace's 23XII Racing entry. That is a strong driver and team to potentially work with at the finish of this race. Wallace starts 24th.
Austin Swaim is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Austin Swaim also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username ASwaim3. 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.