Mike Forbes examines Talladega Track for the AG-Pro 300 and Geico 500!!
After running three short track races in four weeks Nascar now heads to the largest track on the schedule. At 2.66 miles around Talladega is the largest oval track that Nascar currently runs on. Like Daytona, pack racing is the norm here and whenever we are talking about pack racing we have to talk about huge wrecks that often take out large portions of the field.
This weekend Nascar’s top two series will be running in Alabama. The Xfinity series will kick off our DFS slate on Saturday. The AG-Pro 300 will go green around 4PM Eastern and the drivers will make 113 laps around the 2.66 mile track. There are 43 drivers on the initial entry list.
When the Cup series lines up Sunday for the Geico 500 there are 40 drivers listed including Kaz Grala entered in the Kaulig Racing entry. The 188 lap race will go green around 2PM Eastern Sunday.
The current weather forecast for this weekend is calling for showers possible on Saturday but so far it looks clear for Sunday. Nascar could sure use another smooth weekend in terms of weather after all the early season issues we have seen. The fact that these massive tracks take so long to dry makes it imperative that the races go off without a weather delay.
Next let’s talk about DFS strategy for the weekend. These types of tracks make me shift my strategy a lot. As a matter of fact, these superspeedways are where I take my biggest shots at big prizes. On most weeks a majority of my DFS entries are on 50/50’s. I find these to be the most profitable and I enjoy having constant winnings coming in rather than shooting for the big prizes. Normally I would not tell you to change your strategy for one race if you have success playing a certain way, but with all of the unknowns here, this is a chance to catch lightning in a bottle.
Let’s face it these races are often wreck-fests and typically full of devastating DNF’s. These are also races where drivers who usually run in the back are able to stay towards the front if they can stay in the draft. That means we are going to have drivers who are not normally a factor in our lineup decisions becoming picks for us.
Now I am not suggesting we just throw in random lineups, although I am sure some of the biggest winners will be doing just that, I am suggesting however we take some more chances on drivers we usually avoid. This lineup strategy is better suited for big prizes as no matter what happens we need a lot of luck to get our drivers to the finish line.
We want to look for drivers who can stay out of trouble and get their cars to the front. Also, we want drivers with teams who are willing to work on their car and get them back out to boost their finishing positions if their are issues.
If we use past performance and current standings, we are able to build a lineup that has a chance to go for the big prize this weekend. Now, if this were a normal race, going after a big payday in a tournament is by far one of the worst pieces of advice I could ever give you, but these races are so far out of the ordinary that these are the weeks where we could go after the big prize.
I wouldn’t abandon the 50/50’s all together but there is such a high probability that one of your drivers will be involved in a crash that you would have to be very lucky to end up in the money, and if you are looking for luck, why not go for the bigger prizes? Even in doing all of the research you can there is nothing to prepare that driver for the chaos that happens during the race.
There are some drivers who stand out at Talladega and seem to consistently finish better than their fellow competitors. Many of these names will most likely come as a shock to you. These are the kinds of drivers we want to target this weekend in our lineups. Just for fun, I am going to list the top five drivers in average finish for their career here. If you guessed this top five you either cheated and looked or you should be playing the lottery!
- Ryan Preece (11.5 in four races)
- Ty Dillon (12.0 in eight races, not currently entered into the Cup race)
- Ricky Stenhouse JR (12.73 in 15 races)
- Tyler Reddick (13.5 in two races)
- Chase Elliott (14.9 in ten races)
Did you guess them? I bet not but even those stats are a little deceiving. You see there are not a ton of races on this track in that group which means they have not had the chance to be collected into many big wrecks. That doesn’t mean we don’t use these statistics to our benefit but we have to take them in context and not overreact to them.
When we look at the drivers who have had the most success recently here that list has a few more names that we would expect on it. The top five active drivers in the Cup series here in the past six races are listed below:
- Aric Almirola (10.17 in six races)
- Denny Hamlin (10.33 in six races)
- Joey Logano (10.67 in six races)
- Ryan Preece (11.5 in four races)
- Ryan Newman (12.17 in six races)
We do see Ryan Preece showing up on both of these lists which should give us an idea of who we want to target in our lineup. I bet Preece is somewhere around 15% owned this weekend and, for the price, you cannot get a much better value than that.
One driver not listed in either top five is Ryan Blaney. This is one of the biggest examples of what I have been discussing here. For Ryan, he won two races in a row here in the Fall of 2019 and the first race here last year. In his other races he finished outside the top ten.
The thing about the drivers with the best finishing positions here is that they may not be involved in the battle for the win that regularly but rather sometimes can hang out in the back and avoid trouble until the end. On the other side of that is drivers who battle for the win regularly are often caught up in the wrecks since they are in the middle of the big pack battles.
Brad Kesolowski is another driver we have to look out for this weekend. He leads all active drivers with five victories at Talladega. However, he hasn’t had a top ten finish since he won here in 2017. He has led some laps but he has also been collected in a few accidents. He is a driver I expect to be up front battling all race long. Whether he can keep his car out of trouble or not, we won’t know until the checkered flag flies Sunday.
I am going to do a full breakdown of the Xfinity race later this week but for this article I do want to give you my rankings for the drivers competing in the Cup race Sunday afternoon.
- Denny Hamlin
- Brad Kesolowski
- Ryan Blaney
- Joey Logano
- Chase Elliott
- Aric Almirola
- William Byron
- Martin Truex Jr
- Ryan Newman
- Kyle Busch
- Kevin Harvick
- Kyle Larson
- Austin Dillon
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr
- Christopher Bell
- Tyler Reddick
- Kurt Busch
- Alex Bowman
- Bubba Wallace
- Matt DiBenedetto
- Ryan Preece
- Michael McDowell
- Daniel Suarez
- Justin Haley
- Erik Jones
- Cole Custer
- Chris Buescher
- Chase Briscoe
- Corey LaJoie
- Timmy Hill
- Ross Chastain
- Harrison Burton
- Kaz Grala
- Anthony Alfredo
- JJ Yeley
- Josh Bilicki
- Quin Houff
- Joey Gase
- BJ MCLeod
- Cody Ware
Looking at how we want to construct our lineups this weekend we don’t necessarily have to use the standard thinking of breaking it down into three groups. This is a race where you can mix and match your lineup and not have to worry about the salary cap at all.
As of writing this article the salaries for the Cup series have not been released yet. What I am going to do is highlight some drivers that you should get in your lineup no matter what they cost.
For me I start with Denny Hamlin. He knows these types of racetracks. He has won multiple Daytona 500’s and we have talked about his history at Talladega. That 11 team is so consistent this year that you have to believe they will win a race eventually and this is as good of a shot as ever. I do fully realize I wrote that same sentence last week and if not for that late race restart he would have won in Richmond.
I also like this list of drivers in our lineups. I won’t highlight each one but this is a group I think we should focus on. Ryan Blaney, William Byron, Austin Dillon, Ryan Newman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Tyler Reddick, Ryan Preece, and Harrison Burton all figure to be solid picks this weekend.
Most of my lineups will involve some mix of these drivers any way I can fit them in.
When it comes to who I think we should target on betting for the win Sunday it becomes a little more difficult. There are so many factors that come into play for a race like this that choosing a favorite becomes almost impossible.
However I will go with Denny Hamlin as my favorite even at 6.5/1. Those odds don’t get me too excited when it comes to this race but I really do think he has the best chance to win the race this weekend.
My mid-pack driver is going to be Austin Dillon. At 33/1 this is a bet I could not run down. He has been great at these types of tracks and if he can capture the checkered flag I would happily take those odds to the bank. I would also consider Ryan Newman at 30/1 as those odds are great for him.
Where do I begin with the longshots? There are so many that are intriguing. Michael McDowell feels like fools gold at 66/1 but he did win at Daytona earlier this season. I look at Daniel Suarez also at 66/1 and I love that bet. As a matter of fact he may be the guy that ultimately wins out for my longshot be.
Bubba Wallace at 50/1 and Ryan Preece at 40/1 round out my longshot bets!
I’ll be back later this weekend with the Xfinity series breakdown and we have a new name giving you the best Nascar DFS content out there. Sean Engel will be writing up our cheat sheets and breaking down the Cup series race all weekend long!
Follow me for any updates throughout the weekend on Twitter @mikejforbes.