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Daily Fantasy NASCAR Race Preview & Picks for DraftKings - 1000Bulbs.com 500
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Track - 2.66 Mile Tri-Oval
The second round started off with a race at Dover that saw a rained out qualifying session put the remaining 12 drivers at the front of the field with Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick on the front row. It was Harvick that used that to his advantage as he got out front and led 286 of the first 321 laps winning both stage one and two. Things didn't go as planned, however, as a broken valve stem from a pit stop late in the race cost him a lap and a shot at the win. The race eventually went to overtime and it was Chase Elliott who jumped out front on the restart and never looked back as he picked up his second win of the season and an automatic bid into the Round of 8.
The second race of round two takes us to Talladega Superspeedway for the 1000bulbs.com 500 this Sunday afternoon. It is the second trip to Talladega and the fourth restrictor plate race of the season. The plate tracks are the great equalizer in an era where finding an edge is nearly impossible. It is a race where almost anyone can win if you can avoid "The Big One" or two or three. With that said, it has been Penske Racing teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski who have dominated here winning five of the last six and six of the last eight races here.
From a fantasy perspective, our main focus and strategy shifts as dominator points are not nearly as important. Only four times in the last six races has there been a driver lead 50 or more laps with three or more drivers leading 20 or more laps in five of the last six races. The key strategy this week is building a roster around drivers with place differential upside as coming through the field is easier than any other race with drafting. There have been seven or more drivers to pick up double-digit place differential in each of the last six races and three times there have been 12 or more drivers to do so. With that said, let's take a look at some of the race trends and pre-qualifying targets. Then stay tuned after practice and qualifying as my cheatsheet will be updated with that data as well as my top targets in each price range.
Last Six Winners at Talladega
- Joey Logano(started 9th)
- Brad Keselowski(started 6th)
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr.(started 1st)
- Joey Logano(started 16th)
- Brad Keselowski(started 7th)
- Joey Logano(started 10th)
Top 5 Current Track History at Talladega
Over the last five races(since the start of 2016 season), Kurt Busch is the only driver with a sub 10.0 average finish and is one of just two drivers to finish Top 10 in four of those five races. The other driver? Busch's Stewart-Haas teammate, Aric Almirola, who has a 10.2 average finish and leads all drivers in fantasy scoring(63.3 DK/66.6 FD points per race) over the last three races here at Dega. While their average finishes are slightly worse than the previously mentioned drivers, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Joey Logano have combined for three wins and are the only two drivers to finish Top 5 three times in the last five races. In a limited sample size, Ty Dillon has been consistent here at Dega as well with three Top 15 finishes(13.0 average finish) in his three career races and with a low salary and a 27.3 average starting position, he has also been a top fantasy option.
Top 5 Career Track History at Talladega
Right at the top of the career wins list among active drivers are Penske teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano who have combined to win five of the last six races here and have eight between them overall. Only three other active drivers in this field have multiple wins and it starts with Clint Bowyer who also has the best career average finish(16.1) of the bunch despite back to back finishes outside the Top 30. Jimmie Johnson has also struggled here recently with two Top 10's in his last 10 races at Dega but has the most laps led(470) of any active driver at the track. With a 20.3 career average finish, Jamie McMurray has been very up and down here over especially lately where he has six finishes of 19th or worse and three Top 5's including a win in his last 10 at the track. At his price, he makes an excellent GPP play with upside.
Top 5 Current Track Type History(Plate Tracks)
Looking at the plate tracks from a fantasy perspective this season(three races), Chris Buescher leads all drivers with finishes of 11th or better in all three races including two Top 5's after starting each race outside the Top 20. After almost winning the Daytona 500 in his first race with Stewart-Haas(finished 11th) Aric Almirola went to Talladega and picked up a Top 10. Things didn't go so well at Daytona in July as he was caught up in a wreck and finished 27th but he is one of just two drivers to average over 50 DraftKings and FanDuel points on the plate tracks this season. J.J. Yeley only raced the Daytona summer race this season but had a terrific performance finishing 18th after starting at the back of the pack. Matt DiBenedetto, who will be moving to the #95 next season, got better with each plate race this season finishing 27th at the Daytona 500, 19th in the first Talladega race, and 7th at Daytona in July. Another possible value play this week. Jeffrey Earnhardt raced in both Daytona races this season finishing 21st and 11th after starting 27th and 34th so with that place differential he sits fifth in average fantasy scoring in 2018.
Top 5 Current Form (Last Six Races)
I think the scariest thing for the competition this week is that arguably the two best drivers at Talladega, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski, come in leading the form ranks. Brad has three wins in the last six races and both drivers have four Top 10's. Kurt Busch is not far behind as he comes in with back to back Top 5 finishes and has finished 6th or better in four of the last six races. Another Team Penske racer in Ryan Blaney has been consistent lately with a win and two Top 5's in the last six races. Kyle Busch who sits third in the standings going into Talladega has been very consistent outside of a crash at the Roval. He has Top 10 finishes in five of the other six races with a win at Richmond.
Pre Qualifying/Practice Targets
I will be starting with Team Penske and getting exposure to two of the three(Keselowski, Logano, Blaney) in a high percentage of my lineups this week. Keselowski and Logano have won five of the last six races here and while Blaney is the wildcard, it's his first year with Penske and he has also had a lot of bad luck here with a crash or engine failure in three of his last six races here. Stacking at a plate track is a good strategy and it is clear Penske is the favorite everytime they show up at Talladega.
Almirola has had a terrible time qualifying here at Talladega starting outside the Top 20 in seven straight races but that hasn't stopped his performance. He has Top 10's in four straight here and has picked up positive place differential in seven of his last nine.
If you are looking for a wildcard, consider Erik Jones who has raced here three times in his young career crashing out in each one. It's not that he doesn't know how to race plate tracks as he won the Daytona race in July and has Top 10's in two of his last three there. If people go off track history this week, his ownership could be down making him a nice pivot play.
Dillon has raced here at Talladega three times and has yet to finish outside of the Top 15. In those three races, he has also started 25th or worse in each which has given him a ton of place differential upside and he is once again in the low $6K range. He is an excelletn value play to help get to two of the three Penske drivers in a lineup.
Chris Durell has been playing Daily Fantasy Sports for four years and fantasy in general for more than a decade. He is an active player in NFL, MLB, NHL, PGA, and of course NASCAR. He lives in Saskatchewan, Canada with his wife and two daughters. You can follow him on Twitter at @jager_bombs9 for advice, strategy, answers to any NASCAR questions or how he copes with the winters up north.