Victory Lane – 500
By Tyler Miller – @rickybobby_jr

NASCAR is in Talladega for the 500, the second race in the round of 12 for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Chase Elliott won the pole position with Hendrick Motorsports qualifying 1-2-3-4. Denny Hamlin blew an engine during qualifying and will start in the 40th position. Talladega is a superspeedway race that lends itself to big wrecks, surprise winners, and overall unpredictability. I advise playing tournaments, either multiple lineups in the large contests or single entry tournaments with larger payouts. With the higher risk that comes with racing at Talladega we need the potential for a higher reward. There’s a lot to get to, so let’s get started.

High Salary Drivers:
Denny Hamlin ($14,000/10,300) The first decision for any lineup this weekend will be what to do with Denny Hamlin. Hamlin was fastest in first practice on Friday with a speed of nearly 205 mph but blew his engine in qualifying and will start the race 40th. Overall I am down on the Toyota teams because they do not have the amount of cars to work together as compared to Chevrolet and Ford. Hamlin is the highest priced driver on Fan Duel and while I am down on the Toyota teams, the potential for massive differential points is too much to resist. I think Hamlin needs to be considered in every lineup.

Chase Elliott ($12,000/10,100) Chase Elliott won the pole and will likely be the lead car in any Chevrolet draft on Sunday. Since Elliott blew an engine at Dover, his playoff hopes ride on his ability to run well at Talladega. He doesn’t necessarily need to win the race, but winning would take away any potential drama at Kansas next weekend. I like Elliott to lead dozens of laps and contend to win the race on Sunday.

Joey Logano ($14,500/9,400) Joey Logano qualified 10th and is in a similar situation as Chase Elliott because of mechanical issues at Dover last weekend. I think this race comes down to the Chevy’s pushing Elliott versus the Ford’s pushing Logano. I like Logano to lead multiple laps and contend for the win. I also think there is enough value at the bottom end this week to play Hamlin, Elliott, and Logano together in tournament lineups. This gives you the best chances to have the driver that will lead the most laps and win the race and the best chance to score maximum differential points.

Kurt Busch ($11,200/9,000) When I look back at the April race at Talladega, there are three drivers I missed out on that would have led me to tournament wins. Kurt Busch, Ryan Preece, and Brendan Gaughan. Kurt Busch has burned me several times this year, but I think he could be a solid play at Talladega. Kurt has the second best driver rating and fourth best average running position at Talladega. I don’t know if he will get to the front to lead laps, but starting 24th, Kurt Busch should be a solid play on Sunday.

Teammates While I recommend playing Hamlin, Logano, and Elliott together, one way to be different is to play their teammates, namely, Keselowski, Bowman, and Byron. The thinking behind this is that the teammates will likely push each other and finish within one or two spots of each other. If you are building multiple lineups, using Bowman instead of Elliott, and Keselowski instead of Logano in a few of them make sense. There is also a chance that Logano pushes Keselowski to a win, or Elliott pushes Bowman.

Mid-Tier and Value Drivers
Matt DiBenedetto ($6,500/7,900)
I really like Mat DiBenedetto this weekend. His salary on Fan Duel makes him playable with the Hamlin, Logano, Elliott combo. DiBenedetto is in a Toyota, but is moving to a Ford team next year so it will be interesting to see who he drafts with during the race. DiBenedetto is starting 31st which makes him a prime candidate to advance his position 20+ places. I like the lineup build with Logano and Elliott having a chance to lead the most laps and contend for the win, and Hamlin and DiBenedetto scoring points for 20+ differential.

Parker Kligerman ($2,000/4,800) At $2,000 on Fan Duel, Kligerman is too cheap to pass up. Starting 32nd, I expect Kligerman to run in the back of the field to stay out of trouble and race in the final stage. As long as he runs every lap and improves his positio he is a good play at his salary. Kligerman won’t let laps and probably won’t finish in the top 20, but a 25th place finish for Kligerman makes him a good play since it allows a multitude of options at the top of the board.

Brendan Gaughan ($3,500/5,700) Don’t ignore Brendan Gaughan today. Gaughan only races on superspeedways (Daytona and Talladega) and finished 8th at Talladega in the spring. If Gaughan was priced the same as Kligerman I would use Gaughan over Kligerman, but it will depend on lineup build. Either way, I think Gaughan is a good option for a value play starting 28th.

Daniel Hemric ($4,500/6,400) Talladega was the one bright spot for Daniel Hemric’s rookie season. Hemric finished 5th at Talladega in the spring and could have a chance for another good day in DFS scoring on Sunday. Hemric starts 29th so anything in the top 10 would make him a valuable play. I have confidence in the RCR equipment at Talladega, but I’m less confident in Hemric’s ability to stay out of trouble and finish up front.

Ryan Preece ($4,000/6,100) I have no idea what to do with Ryan Preece. He is starting 30 so the potential is there for him to score a lot of points, but his team has been so bad lately that I’m not sure if you can trust him at all. Preece finished 3rd at Talladega in April, which won people a lot of money in DFS, but he only has 1 top 10 finish since then. If you are playing multiple lineups you will want some exposure to Preece because maybe he can repeat his performance from the spring, but I would proceed with caution.

I like using the core of Hamlin, Elliott, and Logano for the reasons mentioned above. Talladega is difficult to predict and one wreck could wipe out every driver I mentioned in this article, so proceed with caution. Enjoy the race and hopefully we will have some big payouts to talk about when it is over!

Tyler Miller is a lifelong NASCAR enthusiast who spent five years as a producer on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (2008-2013). Upon meeting his wife in Washington DC, Tyler became an Army spouse and left his career to move all over the country and help raise their two children. Tyler holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sport Communication and Electronic Media Production from Ashland University and is currently pursuing a Masters’ of Science degree in Marketing: Sports Marketing and Media, from Liberty University.

Leave a Reply