Get your engines started for the GEICO 500 DFS slate! Sean Engel provides top NASCAR Daily Fantasy Picks for DraftKings & FanDuel lineups!
THIS WEEK’S RACE DETAILS
Time & Date of Race: Sunday, April 25th, 2021 at 2:00 PM EST
Track: Talladega Superspeedway
Track Details: 2.66 Mile Asphalt Tri-Oval
- Banking of Turns 1 & 2: 33°
- Banking of Turn 3: 32.3°
- Banking of Turn 4: 32.4°
- Banking of Tri-Oval: 16.5°
- Banking of Back straightaway: 3°
Last Race Details at Talladega
Date: October 4th, 2020
Race Winner: Denny Hamlin
Lap Leaders (18 Total Drivers): Joey Logano (45), Chase Elliott (41), Denny Hamlin (26), Chris Buescher (15), Erik Jones (13), Ryan Blaney (10), Bubba Wallace (10), Matt DiBenedetto (10), Aric Almirola (9), Martin Truex Jr. (6), Brad Keselowski (6), Kevin Harvick (2), Tyler Reddick (2), Michael McDowell (1), Jimmie Johnson (1), Cody Ware (1), Timmy Hill (1), William Byron (1).
Stage 1 Winner: Chris Buescher
Stage 2 Winner: Martin Truex Jr.
Drivers will accumulate points as follows below:
Place Differential:(How many positions a driver finishes above or below their starting position): +/- 1 Pt each
Fastest Laps: (Awarded for the driver that sets the fastest lap time on each lap):+ 0.45 Pts.
Laps Led :(Awarded for each lap a driver leads the race): + 0.25 Pts.
Finishing Position: (Awarded for where a driver finishes at the end of the race)
1st: +45 Pts.
2nd: +42 Pts.
3rd: + 41 Pts.
4th: + 40 Pts.
5th: + 39 Pts.
And the amount of points earned continues decreasing until the last finishing position in the field.
DK Scoring Notes to Keep in Mind:
- A driver’s starting position is based on his qualifying position. If a driver’s qualifying position is disallowed, his starting position will be his new spot at the back of the race. If a driver’s starting position changes between qualifying and the start of the race for any other reason (Example: going to a backup car) the original qualifying position will be used to calculate place differential.
- Finishing Position is defined as the driver’s standing order at the end of the race. Disqualifications related to same-day post-race inspection will not change a driver’s Finishing Position, Laps Led, or Fastest Laps stats.
Laps Completed (Awarded for all laps any driver completes): +0.1 Pts
Laps Led: +0.1 Pts.
Place Differential: +/- 0.5 Pts.
1st: +43 Pts.
2nd: +40 Pts.
3rd: +38 Pts.
4th: +37 Pts.
5th: +36 Pts.
And the amount of points earned continues decreasing until the last finishing position in the field.
If you’re new to Elite Sports’ DFS Picks articles, here is the rundown:
Every week for each Cup race, this article will be published with driver outlooks based on a combination of track results, loop data, and performance from this season. If there are any pre-race events including qualifying and practices, this article will be updated based on their results upon completion. If a racer performs well or poorly throughout pre-race events, this will affect their outlook and be noted as such. Otherwise, all picks listed are final.
This article will feature four groups of driver recommendations: Top-priced picks, Mid-Tier picks, Value Sleepers, and Drivers to avoid. Between each of these groups there will be 12 total drivers with their outlooks evaluated for this week’s race. These outlooks are here to help you make tough lineup calls that detail which drivers to start or park every week.
In case you want additional information to follow-up on this article, I encourage you to check out the Cheat Sheet for this race and the Projections Tab. Without further delay, I present to you the picks for this week’s race, the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Before diving into the drivers, it’s important to know about constructing the right lineup for Talladega. Races at the Alabama track are wreckfests where most do not finish on the lead lap or crash out early. Talladega also is a track that features many different racers taking lead laps and not one or two dominators for the entire race. This means fantasy players must focus on choosing drivers that will survive the race with a strong finish and pick up place differential.
Although some drivers that excel at other tracks weekly are favorites to win again this week, Talladega offers an opportunity for any driver to steal a victory due to pack racing. Pack racing at this course equalizes speeds thanks to drafting so some racers that DFS players avoid normally must be considered valid options for lineups. Do not be surprised if your lineups leave salary as drivers that start in the back with the lowest prices can be winning picks at Talladega.
As always at superspeedways, be sure to diversify your lineups with different driver combinations to maximize your chances of cashing out. It’s ideal to utilize different drivers at this site to remain in contention to win big – one wreck will ruin that in seconds. If there’s any strategy DFS players take away from this article at Talladega, the more entries played, the greater the chances of victory.
LOOP DATA AND DRIVER STATS
Here are the Top 10 drivers in the field this Sunday at Talladega in Driver Rating since 2019:
1: Joey Logano – 105.1
2: Ryan Blaney – 100.2
3: Brad Keselowski – 96.4
4: Chase Elliott – 89.8
5: Kurt Busch – 86.3
6: Aric Almirola – 85.5
7: William Byron – 85.2
8: Erik Jones – 84.7
9: Alex Bowman – 84.6
10: Chris Buescher – 82.4
Here are the Top 10 drivers in the field this Sunday in Average Finish at Talladega since 2018:
1: Aric Almirola – 10.1
2: Denny Hamlin – 10.3
3: Joey Logano – 10.7
4: Ryan Preece – 11.5
5: Ryan Newman – 12.1
6: Tyler Reddick – 13.5
7: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – 13.7
8: Chase Elliott – 14.3
9: Ryan Blaney – 14.8
10: Kurt Busch – 15.2
Here are the Top 10 drivers in the field this Sunday in Laps Led at Talladega since 2018:
1: Joey Logano – 208
2: Kurt Busch – 129
3: Ryan Blaney – 118
4: Chase Elliott – 108
5: Brad Keselowski – 80
6: Kevin Harvick – 62
7: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – 57
8: Denny Hamlin – 55
9: Alex Bowman – 45
10: William Byron – 44
Here are the winners of the last 10 Talladega races:
October 2020 – Denny Hamlin
June 2020 – Ryan Blaney
October 2019 – Ryan Blaney
April 2019 – Chase Elliott
October 2018 – Aric Almirola
April 2018 – Joey Logano
October 2017 – Brad Keselowski
May 2017 – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
October 2016 – Joey Logano
May 2016 – Brad Keselowski
GEICO 500 DFS NASCAR PICKS FOR DRAFTKINGS AND FANDUEL
Chase Elliott #9 (DraftKings: $10,300 | FanDuel: $11,700) – Starting 8th – Chase Elliott is one of the favorites and best options to compete for the win at Talladega. In his last three races at superspeedway tracks, Elliott has three top-5 finishes including a runner-up finish in this year’s Daytona 500. The driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet also is a former Talladega winner and led the second-most laps (41) in the last race at the site. Elliott is the only Hendrick Motorsports driver that has no wins in 2021 despite the team’s strong performance. However, his history at this track and recent superspeedway events point to him as a strong play that will lead laps.
Ryan Blaney #12 (DraftKings: $10,100 | FanDuel: $13,500) – Starting 7th – In recent Talladega races, Ryan Blaney is a boom or bust racer. In his last five starts at the site, Blaney has three finishes with negative place differential outside of the Top 10, but he also scored two wins. Despite his finish inconsistency at Talladega, the driver of the No. 12 Ford is third of active drivers in Average Running Position (9.7), and second in Laps in the Top 15 (640), and Driver Rating (100.2) at the Alabama track since 2019. Team Penske and Ryan Blaney are always competitive at superspeedways and this week will be no exception as he is a favorite to win.
Denny Hamlin #11 (DraftKings: $10,000 | FanDuel: $12,500) – Starting 1st – Denny Hamlin is the most consistent driver in 2021 with eight top-5 finishes in nine races including the last six Cup events. At Talladega, Hamlin has two wins including the last race at the site and 13 top-10 finishes in 30 starts. The driver of the No. 11 Toyota also placed in the Top 5 in every superspeedway race and led the most laps of all drivers at the track type (230) since 2020. Hamlin has not won a race yet this season and has no place differential upside from his starting position, but his 2021 performance and superspeedway history greatly favor him as one of the best picks.
Joey Logano #22 (DraftKings: $9,800 | FanDuel: $13,000) – Starting 2nd – One driver who is a consistent threat to win races at superspeedways is Joey Logano. In 24 starts at Talladega, Logano has three wins and ten top-10 finishes including five of his last nine Cup events at the site. The driver of the No. 22 Ford also has led more laps at superspeedways since 2018 than all active drivers (323) and tops most loop data categories at Talladega including Average Running Position (7.4) and Driver Rating (105.1) since 2019. At superspeedway races, Logano normally charges to the front and dominates by leading plenty of laps, which DFS players must expect this week since he starts in the front row. Logano is one of the top favorites to win and must be considered for all lineups at Talladega.
Aric Almirola #10 (DraftKings: $8,700 | FanDuel: $12,000) – Starting 14th – Aric Almirola is a solid choice for lineups at Talladega. The driver of the No. 10 Ford is the only racer to have placed in the Top 10 five times in the last six races at the Alabama track and won there in 2018. Since 2019 at Talladega, Almirola ranks sixth of active drivers in Driver Rating (85.5) and has decent upside from his starting position this week. Almirola typically performs well at Talladega and will likely finish in the Top 10 based on his experience.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #47 (DraftKings: $8,500 | FanDuel: $11,000) – Starting 17th – Another mid-tier quality pick is Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Stenhouse gained six top-10 finishes in his last nine Talladega starts while also earning positive place differential five times. Historically, the driver of the No. 47 Chevrolet performs best at superspeedway events and picked up his only two career Cup Series wins at Daytona & Talladega in 2017. Stenhouse is having his most consistent season to date and has adequate PD upside this sunday, making him one of the better lineup recommendations.
Harrison Burton #96 (DraftKings: $7,900 | FanDuel: $3,000) – Starting 39th – Harrison Burton is making his Cup Series debut this sunday at Talladega, Burton’s best finish in two starts at Talladega in the Xfinity Series is 23rd and he also placed 11th in his only Truck Series start at the track. The driver of the No. 96 Toyota has amazing PD upside and is one of the safest picks of the field due to starting position (39th). Burton is an absolute bargain and must-play for FanDuel lineups this week.
Ryan Newman #6 (DraftKings: $7,600 | FanDuel: $8,700) – Starting 28th – One of the best picks of the week is Roush-Fenway Racing driver Ryan Newman. In 38 career starts at Talladega, the driver of the No. 6 Ford has 16 top-10 finishes including five of his last seven races at the site. This season, Newman has five top-20 finishes in nine races and presents great PD upside for Sunday’s race due to his starting position. Newman is one of the more experienced drivers in the field that will compete for a top-15 finish this week at Talladega due to equipment.
Bubba Wallace #23 (DraftKings: $7,000 | FanDuel: $6,500) – Starting 24th – Bubba Wallace is a value pick with potential for a great finish this week at Talladega. In six starts at the Alabama track, the driver of the No. 23 Toyota has three top-20 finishes while capturing positive PD in his last three starts. This season, Wallace has four top-20 finishes including three of the last five races as well as the Daytona 500. Wallace normally runs solidly at superspeedways and with better equipment this season, he will capitalize on his PD upside and finish in the Top 15 with a chance of placing in the Top 10.
Ryan Preece #37 (DraftKings: $6,400 | FanDuel: $8,000) – Starting 29th – A bargain value that must not be ignored for Talladega this week is Ryan Preece. In four starts at Talladega, Preece has four top-20 finishes with positive PD including a finish of 10th in his last race there. The driver of the No. 37 Chevrolet also earned a finish of sixth in this year’s Daytona 500 earlier in 2021. Preece has great PD upside for Sunday’s race due to starting position and usually finishes well at superspeedways.
Chris Buescher #17 (DraftKings: $6,300 | FanDuel: $6,800 – Starting 21st – One of the more consistent finishers in recent superspeedway racers to consider at Talladega is Chris Buescher. In 11 starts at the site, the driver of the No. 17 Ford has five top-20 finishes, which he picked up in his last eight races there. This season, Buescher has seven top-20 finishes in nine races while capturing positive PD four times. Based on his starting position Sunday, Buescher offers solid PD upside and is a driver that will finish in the Top 15 based on equipment while competing for a top-10 finish.
Kaz Grala #16 (DraftKings: $5,800 | FanDuel: $5,000) – Starting 38th – Kaz Grala is making his first Cup Series start at Talladega this week. Grala obtained a finish with positive PD of 20th in his only Xfinity start at the site while in two Truck Series starts, his best finish is ninth in 2020. The driver of the No. 16 Chevrolet led 10 laps and placed 28th in this year’s Daytona 500. Grala has excellent PD upside for Sunday’s race and despite little Cup Series experience, he is one of the safest and best picks.
DRIVERS TO AVOID
Kyle Larson #5 (DraftKings: $9,400 | FanDuel: $7,500) – Starting 12th – This Sunday’s race at Talladega will be Kyle Larson’s first at the track since 2019. Statistically, Talladega is Larson’s worst Cup Series track that he has raced multiple times with only two top-10 finishes in 12 starts while picking up PD five times. Larson’s starting position presents little upside and for the price, especially on DraftKings, you can pick others with more upside or a higher chance of winning.
Kyle Busch #18 (DraftKings: $9,200 | FanDuel: $9,700) – Starting 9th – Talladega is a track where Kyle Busch has experienced limited success in his career. In 31 career starts at the Alabama track, the driver of the No. 18 Toyota has one win in 2008 and eight top-10 finishes, with only two there since 2017. With little PD upside from his starting position and unfavorable recent history, Busch is one to avoid this week.
Martin Truex Jr. #19 (DraftKings: $8,900 | FanDuel: $10,000) – Starting 3rd – Martin Truex Jr. is the top driver that fantasy players must stay away from this week. The driver of the No. 19 Toyota has the most DNFs of active drivers (14) at Talladega and has not placed in the Top 10 since 2015. Truex’s starting position has extremely low PD upside and with unfavorable track history, he should not be considered for lineups on Sunday.
Daniel Suarez #99 (DraftKings: $6,200 | FanDuel: $3,500) – Starting 19th – Daniel Suarez is a driver with mixed history at superspeedway races. In eight career starts at Talladega, the driver of the No. 99 Chevrolet has five top-20 finishes, but none were in his last three starts at the site. Suarez’s last top-20 finish at a superspeedway was in 2019 and only scored positive PD two times in his last five races at the track type. Although Suarez offers a bit of PD upside from his starting position and has cap flexibility from his price, there are cheaper drivers with more upside and better history starting Sunday.
CORE 4 PICKS TO WIN
- Denny Hamlin
- Joey Logano
- Chase Elliott
- Ryan Blaney
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