Daily Fantasy NASCAR Track Preview: YellaWood 500

The 12 remaining playoff drivers will start in the top 12 spots for Sunday's race in Talladega. How does this alter our typical approach for NASCAR DFS?

In this non-qualifying era of NASCAR, superspeedways have presented us with a dilemma.

We know we want to stack the back at these tracks, exploiting the chaos and the randomness in the finishing order by scooping place-differential options. But with the best cars at the front, there's a major wrench in our plans. That's especially true now with the 12 remaining playoff drivers occupying the top 12 drivers in the starting order.

Luckily for us, we do have a template at Talladega, specifically. Not only do we have last year's playoff race here, but we've also got the spring 2020 race, which featured the top 12 drivers in points in the top 12 spots, as well. Those can give us a firm idea of the optimal way to attack this from a DFS perspective.

Let's look back at those two races and decide how we should play things on FanDuel this week.

Place-Differential Still Pays

One way to map out an optimal approach is by looking at perfect lineups. These show us the best FanDuel lineup you could have built for the race, giving us a blueprint of what was successful.

In both of these Talladega races, our baseline process still came through.

The playoff race is the best parallel, so let's start with the optimal lineup from that race.

Perfect Lineup Salary Start Laps Led
Denny Hamlin $11,400 1st 26
Tyler Reddick $9,600 30th 2
William Byron $8,800 21st 1
Erik Jones $8,300 16th 13
Ty Dillon $6,000 28th 0

Denny Hamlin
won the race, and he was the only playoff driver in the perfect lineup.

For typical superspeedway races, we've talked about "assumption" lineups. There, you pick a driver you assume will win and plug them in. The 43 points for a win move the needle a bunch, so we want the winner in our lineup. Then, we pluck place-differential from there.

That strategy was in the optimal for the playoff race at Talladega. It was also the optimal from the spring Talladega race where Ryan Blaney won.

Perfect LineupSalaryStartLaps Led
Ryan Blaney$12,000 12th63
Aric Almirola$11,000 15th0
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.$10,100 20th5
Erik Jones$8,800 18th0
Chris Buescher$7,900 21st4

Again, that starting order was a tad different. But it still illustrated the strength of this strategy.

In other words, we don't need to tweak things much despite the wonky starting order. We still want the assumed winner, and we still want place-differential after that. We should make this our approach for Sunday.

One thing you'll notice from the spring perfect lineup is that no driver starting lower than 21st made it. It's a good reminder we don't need to go as crazy with stacking the back in Talladega as we do in Daytona as the randomness is turned down a slight bit. However, I wouldn't take that as gospel for Sunday.

That's mostly due to the way this specific field lines up. Not only do we have a hyper-viable driver in Justin Haley starting all the way back in 38th, but Ross Chastain, Chris Buescher, and Ryan Preece will start between 23rd and 27th and all have talent on this track type. So although we don't have to go bananas with stacking the back, there will still be some very attractive plays starting in the back half of the field.

When picking your assumed winner, it's wise to consider pairing them with drivers who are either their teammates or drive for the same manufacturer. We'll often see correlated drivers in perfect lineups given the role teamwork plays in these races.

In that spring perfect lineup, Blaney was paired with two other Fords. Hamlin was joined by then-teammate Erik Jones in the fall, even though the Toyota representation in the field is pretty thin. Stacks work well in general, but they're especially attractive when picking your assumed winner as they'll likely have help along the way.

Basically, this is your run-of-the-mill superspeedway race. We can play things the way we traditionally have even with no qualifying. That's going to lead to leaving some salary on the table in almost every lineup, but it's still the optimal approach in a race like this.