Welcome to fun week! Playing DraftKings with the Talladega and Daytona races is always some of my favorite weeks simply because pretty much the entire field is viable. We’ll get in to strategy with this article and why it’s usually best to stay away from the top 5 starters here, but pretty much anyone starting 10th or worse is a good option on Sunday. This obviously creates the opportunity to go many different directions with lineups.

As far as Talladega goes, we have 188 laps scheduled here on Sunday with the YellaWood 500. The most comparable track on the schedule is Daytona, although the two venues are actually quite different. A few things to note about Talladega: Fords have a major horsepower advantage here and have won nine of the last ten races at this track. Also noteworthy: Penske Racing has won eight of those nine races for Ford. So far this year on the superspeedways, we saw a Toyota win the Daytona 500 (Denny Hamlin), a Ford win at Talladega (Ryan Blaney), and a Chevrolet win the second Daytona race (William Byron).

Denny Hamlin is on the pole for this weekend’s race and the full starting lineup can be viewed by clicking here. Now let’s gooooo!!

The Best Drivers on Superspeedways Lately

Denny Hamlin Smiling on Pit Road at Martinsville
Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

I usually kick off my DraftKings article with a Green Flag Speed breakdown, but not this week. The cars are basically equal this weekend, although you obviously have to give a slight edge to Fords. But still, they’re equal. There’s your speed breakdown. If you do want to check out Green Flag Speed, you can click here for the Cheat Sheet and see how every driver ranks in that category.

So instead of Green Flag Speed, we’re going to look at which drivers have been best at the superspeedways (Talladega and Daytona) over the last two years. The first chart below shows the statistics for each driver in the three points-paying superspeedway races of 2020. In the chart after that, we’re also adding in the four races from 2019. The charts are sorted by average DraftKings FPTS scored but you can click on the headers to sort by whatever you’d like.

The Best Superspeedway Racers in 2020

Driver# RacesAvg. DraftKings PointsAvg. FinishAvg. StartAvg. Fast LapsAvg. Laps Led
Denny Hamlin362.8302.6711.0006.6735.33
Brendan Gaughan361.6712.0039.3304.6700.00
Ryan Blaney361.3303.0016.0001.3322.67
Chris Buescher352.6706.0019.0002.6701.33
John H. Nemechek349.6710.0023.0005.3300.00
Corey Lajoie344.4215.0028.6703.3300.33
Michael McDowell343.5815.3326.0008.0001.00
Bubba Wallace342.4211.3318.6704.6700.33
Ty Dillon334.1721.3328.6708.3300.00
Brennan Poole333.9222.0031.0005.6700.33
Chase Elliott332.3319.0021.0006.3308.67
Christopher Bell330.1721.0025.0005.3302.00
Clint Bowyer330.1716.6717.6703.6700.00
Ricky Stenhouse Jr329.7518.0017.3304.0009.67
Alex Bowman327.6712.6706.0003.3305.33
Kevin Harvick327.6711.6705.3302.0002.67
Daniel Suarez227.6327.0033.5003.5009.50
Matt DiBenedetto326.4219.0018.0004.6700.33
Erik Jones325.7519.3317.3303.6705.00
Aric Almirola325.2514.3308.3302.0002.33
William Byron324.7517.3309.6703.6711.67
Timmy Hill324.6728.0035.0003.3300.00
Reed Sorenson124.0031.0040.0004.0000.00
Ryan Preece322.9227.0030.0005.3301.00
Joey Gase320.3330.3336.6700.6700.00
Quin Houff318.6729.6733.6700.6700.00
Ryan Newman317.0022.6714.3305.3305.33
Tyler Reddick315.5025.6718.6705.0006.67
Martin Truex Jr314.5020.0006.0006.0006.00
Brad Keselowski311.7521.6706.3304.3310.33
Austin Dillon310.0025.3314.0005.3300.00
Joey Logano309.9223.3305.0002.6725.00
Jimmie Johnson308.3321.6705.6703.3301.33
Kurt Busch308.2525.3312.6704.3300.33
Cole Custer304.5029.6718.6702.3300.00
James Davison104.0039.0038.0000.0000.00
JJ Yeley201.5038.0033.5000.0000.00
Kyle Busch3-02.3333.0014.0003.0016.67
Matt Kenseth2-07.0034.0016.0002.0000.00

The Best Superspeedway Racers in 2019 & 2020

Driver# RacesAvg. DraftKings PointsAvg. FinishAvg. StartAvg. Fast LapsAvg. Laps Led
Corey Lajoie751.5412.4331.0002.7100.14
John H. Nemechek349.6710.0023.0005.3300.00
Denny Hamlin746.8910.5716.0004.2920.14
Brendan Gaughan646.6717.5035.8303.6700.00
Ty Dillon742.4614.4323.5707.0001.00
Michael McDowell740.6815.5724.8605.5700.71
Ryan Newman737.3913.7116.7106.8602.71
Reed Sorenson337.0023.6738.3304.0000.00
Ryan Blaney736.7513.1412.5702.5717.29
Ryan Preece734.0020.2928.1404.5700.57
Brennan Poole333.9222.0031.0005.6700.33
Chris Buescher731.5717.4321.1402.1400.86
Chase Elliott730.7916.8614.2905.0013.14
Christopher Bell330.1721.0025.0005.3302.00
Erik Jones727.2119.5719.2904.7102.86
Aric Almirola726.5413.5707.2902.1405.29
Ricky Stenhouse Jr726.2517.8612.7103.7113.57
Kyle Busch726.1120.5717.5704.1414.43
Matt DiBenedetto725.7522.0020.7106.4307.29
Bubba Wallace725.7121.4321.8605.2900.29
Joey Logano724.9616.2905.4303.4325.57
Timmy Hill324.6728.0035.0003.3300.00
William Byron722.5718.4310.0003.4313.14
Austin Dillon721.1120.7114.8604.0006.71
Alex Bowman720.8615.5705.7102.8603.43
JJ Yeley320.5029.3334.6701.0000.00
Joey Gase520.2030.8037.2001.2000.00
Kurt Busch719.4620.7113.7104.5703.57
Tyler Reddick419.2526.0023.7504.5005.00
Quin Houff414.5031.5033.2500.5000.00
Jimmie Johnson714.1421.1410.4303.5700.86
Clint Bowyer714.1422.2912.2903.7102.29
Brad Keselowski713.6122.0009.5703.5709.00
Daniel Suarez613.0428.5023.3303.8303.17
Kevin Harvick712.5720.7108.1402.2902.86
Martin Truex Jr710.8923.2910.2904.2904.14
Cole Custer304.5029.6718.6702.3300.00
James Davison104.0039.0038.0000.0000.00
Matt Kenseth2-07.0034.0016.0002.0000.00

DraftKings Strategy for Talladega on Sunday

Big One at Daytona 2019 Coke Zero Sugar 400
Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Your strategy on Sunday? Hope your drivers avoid that above.

Seriously.

For “casual” DraftKings NASCAR players, the races at Talladega and Daytona are not only fun to watch, but should also be fun to make lineups for, and let me tell you this: anybody is capable of making a solid lineup, and they don’t even need to research anything. Seriously. And I tell my non-NASCAR-watching friends this exact thing every time there’s a race at one of these tracks: “you’re just as likely to make a good lineup as I am as long as you follow the right strategy.”

That’s the key here, andI’m going to let you in on a little secret: it does not matter who you pick, it matters the strategy with which you construct a lineup. The projections I’m providing for this race? They’ll probably be most inaccurate of the entire season. Why? Because this race is so damn random. Any driver can win on Sunday.

So what’s the strategy for constructing a lineup? Well, first, let’s take a look at this chart below (click to make it bigger). It shows each drivers base DraftKings scored by simply taking into account their starting position (left column) and finishing position (top row).

If your six drivers average 50 FPTS each on Sunday, you’re probably going to have a great lineup. I set the midpoint on the conditional formatting here at 40. As you can see, it rarely pays off to take the guys starting up front! In fact, there’s a very good chance I won’t have a single top 5 starter in any of my lineups this weekend.

“But what about dominator points?”

Those definitely come in to play, but you shouldn’t focus on them. This race is only scheduled to be 188 laps in length, and at just 0.25 DraftKings FPTS per lap led, a driver could lead 100 laps (which is a lot for one guy to lead here) and all of those FPTS could be wiped out if he loses 25 spots on the track. As far as fastest laps go, they are spread out and relatively unpredictable. In the three superspeedway races in 2020, Ty Dillon has the most fastest laps at just 8.3 per race, while Michael McDowell is 2nd-best at 8 per race. Only five drivers are averaging 6 or more fastest laps per race at superspeedways this year.

Lineup Construction: I follow a very basic rule of thumb for constructing lineups at Talladega and Daytona, and it is solely determined off of starting spot. I’ll make my choices of drivers within those ranges by somewhat looking at their past results, but overall this race is so random that anybody is on the table. So here’s my general rule:

  • Top 5 starting spot: sparingly
  • Top 10 starting spot: one driver, absolute max of two
  • 11th-24th starting spot: two drivers
  • 25th-40th starting spot: two or three drivers

In the first race here at Talladega this season, Ryan Blaney was the highest-scoring driver (he started 12th) and then the next three highest-scoring started 20th or worse. You have to go down to Denny Hamlin (who started 2nd and finished 4th), the 10th-highest scoring driver in that race, until you get someone who breaks the mold (that’s the sparingly part). Nine of the eleven highest-scoring drivers in that race started 15th or worse. I’ll end with this: I think Denny Hamlin has a decent shot at dominating, leading 45+ laps, and winning here on Sunday, and he probably won’t be on any one of my lineups because he starts on the pole.

With all of that being said, the lineup construction up above is a solid rule of thumb, but to really take down any tournaments/GPPs, I do think you’re going to have to shift the strategy a bit and find the value drivers in the teens and mid-20s.

Oh, and one final note on strategy? Don’t be afraid to leave a ton of cap unused. in fact, I’d encourage it. one of my early lineups that i put in this week had $8,800 left over.

GPP / Tournament Picks I Love for the Talladega YellaWood 500

Aric Almirola and Ryan Blaney on the starting grid at Pocono 2020
Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images

Aric Almirola ($8,500) – Admittedly, I’m not great at projecting ownership percentage, but with race favorites Joey Logano ($10,300) and Ryan Blaney ($9,100) starting 8th and 14th, something tells me Aric Almirola is going to go relatively low owned for how good he is at Talladega. And just how good am I talking? Eight straight finishes of 8th or better, including a win in this race two years ago. Five top 5s in the last seven. That kind of consistency would be good at a “normal” race track. Doing that well at a crapshoot venue like Talladega is almost unbelievable. I love being overweight on Almirola in tournaments/GPPs as well as in single entry contests.

Corey LaJoie ($6,700) – Somehow this guy keeps getting slept on at superspeedway races, so while I could easily write up Corey LaJoie as a cash game this weekend, I’m going to go ahead and write him up here as a GPP/tournament play because he was only around 15% owned at Daytona in August. Yeah, the guy that is averaging the most DraftKings points at superspeedways since the start of 2019 was only 15% owned the last time we ran at one of these tracks. Now, Corey had a somewhat disappointing night that race, as he finished 21st, but don’t forget that he was running top 10 on the final lap before getting turned. I’ll repeat again: Corey LaJoie is averaging more DraftKings points than any other driver at this track type since the start of last season. He’s also in a Ford, so I like that power, too.

Chris Buescher ($6,000) – With his move to Roush-Fenway Racing this season, Chris Buescher inherited one of the best superspeedway cars in the series. He’s turned that in to a 3rd-place finish in the Daytona 500, a 6th-place finish in the first Talladega race, and a 9th-place finish in the second Daytona race. In addition to that, this #17 team is starting to find its groove, and now has three top 10s in the last five races overall, as well as six finishes of 16th or better in the last eight. Buescher starts 15th on Sunday and that should keep his ownership percentage down, but he has a top 5 ceiling in this #17 Ford.

Brennan Poole ($4,800) – There are so many options that I could probably list 15 or more drivers in this GPP/tournament pick section, but one super cheap guy that I like is Brennan Poole. DraftKings went quite soft on the pricing this week, and casual DraftKings players will try to use their entire salary cap space. Players like that also don’t like to use the back markers a ton. Poole is definitely what we consider a back marker car, but he’s a step above the other ones, and he’ll likely stay on the lead lap all race. In other words, if and when the carnage happens, he’ll have a good shot at benefitting. As far as superspeedways this season, Poole came home 16th in the Daytona 500 and 15th in the second Daytona race. If he can survive here on Sunday, he has great upside starting from 32nd, and he should be quite low-owned in contests.

Cash Core Drivers I Love for the Talladega YellaWood 500

Ryan Blaney and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. racing at Talladega 2020
Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk | Getty Images

Brendan Gaughan ($9,500) – I’ll put this bluntly: if you enter into a cash contest this weekend and don’t have Brendan Gaughan in your lineup, everyone else will look at you and note that you probably don’t know what you’re doing. Could Gaughan wreck out and you still cash without him? Absolutely. But from a purely strategical standpoint, Brendan Guaghan is the safest DraftKings play on the slate, and one that consistently performs at superspeedways. Gaughan will start dead last on Sunday, which means it is impossible for him to score negative FPTS, and he’s always one of the highest scorers at this track type; in 2020, Gaughan is 2nd-best on superspeedways with 61.7 DraftKings FPTS per race on them, and since the start of 2019, he’s 4th-best with 46.7 FPTS per race.

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. ($8,800) – Yep, go ahead and hit that lock button on Stenhouse whenever he starts in the back half of the field at a superspeedway race. This Sunday, he’ll start from 26th in the YellaWood 500, and unless he wrecks out, should put up at least 40 DraftKings FPTS when it’s all said and done. Over the last five Talladega races, Stenhouse has finished 9th or better four times (include three top 5s), and over the last eight races here here’s ended up inside the top 5 in five of the events, has one win, and only two finishes worse than 9th. Overall, Stenhouse’s average finish at Talladega is 10.9 and he’s never finished worse than 26th. You can play the strategy game and fade him in GPPs/tournaments if you want, but there’s no way I won’t be picking him in cash games.

Ty Dillon ($6,300) – There’s no such thing as guaranteed at a superspeedway race, but damn it Ty Dillon is about as close as they come at Talladega. I keep waiting for him to have a bad finish here and it just doesn’t happen. Now obviously it’ll eventually occur, but so far through seven career Cup Series starts, Ty has never finished worse than 17th. His average result of 13.3 is 4th-best among active drivers and 2nd-best among active drivers with more than three starts at this track. Also, Ty has an average finish of 14.4 over the seven total superspeedway races since the start of 2019, and that is 7th-best in the series. He starts back in 28th on Sunday. It’s also worth noting that Ty Dillon is averaging the most fastest laps on superspeedways this season at 8.3 per race.

Talladega YellaWood 500 DraftKings Projections

The following chart takes into account the very basics: the starting position and the projected finish of each driver. The projected finishes are averaged from six different ranking systems. Laps led and fastest laps are not included for the Daytona and Talladega races because they’re both so unpredictable. You can click the headers below to sort the chart by that attribute. By default it is sorted by average projected FPTS.

DriverStarting PositionDraftKings SalaryAvg Proj FPTSAvg. Projected FinishDollar Per FPT
Brendan Gaughan39$9,50044.020.5$216
Joey Logano8$10,30043.005.2$240
Ryan Blaney14$9,10041.708.2$218
Aric Almirola11$8,50040.708.2$209
Chase Elliott10$10,50040.307.5$260
Ricky Stenhouse Jr26$8,80039.515.5$223
Bubba Wallace27$7,70039.017.8$197
John H. Nemechek23$5,60037.514.8$149
Ty Dillon28$6,30037.018.3$170
Chris Buescher15$6,00036.812.2$163
Jimmie Johnson17$8,60034.514.0$249
Denny Hamlin1$9,70034.004.8$285
Ryan Newman19$6,80033.815.8$201
Michael McDowell24$5,70033.718.7$169
William Byron21$8,90033.316.5$267
Corey Lajoie29$6,70031.821.7$210
Tyler Reddick30$7,90031.721.5$249
Kyle Busch6$9,50030.710.2$310
Alex Bowman4$7,50030.009.3$250
Erik Jones16$8,00030.016.0$267
Christopher Bell22$7,00029.819.2$235
Ryan Preece25$6,50029.720.3$219
Matt DiBenedetto13$7,20028.215.3$256
Justin Haley35$5,40027.826.7$194
Austin Dillon12$7,30027.314.8$267
Kevin Harvick5$10,10026.311.3$384
Daniel Suarez31$5,80025.225.2$230
Brad Keselowski7$9,90025.013.5$396
Brennan Poole32$4,80024.726.5$195
Cole Custer18$6,20024.519.5$253
Cody Ware34$4,70020.030.3$235
Martin Truex Jr3$9,30019.514.2$477
Matt Kenseth20$5,90018.722.7$316
Kurt Busch2$8,10018.313.7$442
James Davison38$5,30018.232.7$292
Timmy Hill37$5,20017.332.0$300
Joey Gase36$5,00017.032.2$294
Clint Bowyer9$8,30016.818.2$493
Quin Houff33$4,90013.232.2$372
As someone who has always been obsessed with numbers, Fantasy NASCAR has been the perfect fit with me. I pride myself on the quality of my analysis for each race, and am glad that I have been able to help others along the way. I've been a serious Fantasy NASCAR player for over 10 years now, and I'm just getting started.