After taking a week off for the Easter holiday, Fantasy NASCAR players get eased back into the swing of things this weekend with a race at Talladega Superspeedway. This is the second “restrictor plate” race (they’re using tapered spacers now instead of restrictor plates) of the 2019 season–the Daytona 500 was the first–and with this style of track and racing, literally any driver is up for discussion as far as being picked. With that being said, typically the top strategy at Talladega and Daytona is to go for place differential points; the top 9 drivers in terms of Slingshot scoring at Daytona this year started 10th or worse, and 8 of those 9 started outside of the top 20 entirely (click here to review that).
My recommendation? If you’re going to pick a driver starting inside the top 10, make that your only driver that qualified that high, and make it the one that you think has the best chance at winning. It is worth noting that the last four Talladega winners have started 9th or better. Click here for the starting lineup for Sunday’s GEICO 500.
*Please note: the picks and suggestions below are my opinions and strategy for the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. These are not meant to sway your thinking in any way, but rather give you insight into the drivers I am most likely to pick on Sunday.*
Slingshot Fantasy Auto Picks for Talladega
Denny Hamlin ($12,000) – Looking at the Fantasy Racing Online algorithm predicted finishes for Talladega, Denny Hamlin is #1 heading into Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega. He also starts back in 23rd, so he’s a prime Fantasy NASCAR pick in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. He’s also the defending winner at the superspeedways, as Hamlin won this year’s Daytona 500. Looking at Talladega specifically, Denny hasn’t finished worse than 14th here in the last five races, and in the last three fall races at this track he’s wound up between 3rd and 6th in each. Hamlin is an elite driver at these big tracks, and will be one of the favorites for Sunday’s GEICO 500.
Kurt Busch ($11,100) – Initially I was going to go with the other Busch driver here (Kyle, who starts 22nd), but instead I’m going to go with Kurt in this spot even though he starts kind of high (14th). With that being said, if I wasn’t taking the potential place differential points into account here, I’d really like Kurt, so I’m sticking with this. Over the last nine Talladega races, the elder Busch brother has finished 10th or better six times, and he’s only had one result worse than 14th. Not too shabby. And with how great of a season Kurt is having in 2019, that makes me like this Fantasy NASCAR pick a little more.
Ryan Newman ($9,200) – Look for Ryan Newman to have a pretty high-scoring race here at Talladega on Sunday. “The Rocketman” went through a period where he was thought of as a terrible racer at Daytona and Talladega, but really he just went though a rough patch–something that happens to every single driver. Looking at the recent races here at Talladega, Newman has posted two top 10s in the last three events at this track, and over the last eleven he has posted a top 15 result in seven of them. Ryan starts 24th in Sunday’s GEICO 500 so there’s plenty of room for place differential fantasy points in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest.
Chris Buescher ($7,800) – Don’t be afraid to leave some of the salary cap on the table this weekend. Remember, literally any driver in the field can finish up front this weekend. And as far as the lower-dollar drivers in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest this weekend, Chris Buescher is a great fantasy pick overall. He’s made seven career starts here at Talladega Superspeedway, and only once has he finished worse than 24th. Buescher also has three top 20s in the last four, and hasn’t finished worse than 22nd in the last five. This weekend, the #37 Chevrolet will roll off the grid from 31st, so there’s plenty of room for place differential here (remember: 2 points per spot). Buescher is having the best season of his career thus far and I fully expect that to continue here on Sunday.
Bubba Wallace ($7,500) – Looking at the Fantasy Racing Online algorithm predicted finishes, Bubba Wallace is sitting there in 22nd–which is probably the highest projected finish you’ll see for him all season. That should be all you need to hear for rolling the dice on him in Fantasy NASCAR this weekend. Overall, Bubba Wallace is actually a pretty good racer at Daytona and Talladega, as he has top 15 finishes in three of his four career starts at the former while posting results of 16th and 19th in his two starts here at ‘Dega. The #43 Chevrolet team qualified 28th for the GEICO 500 on Sunday.