We’re off to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend for the GEICO 500. Talladega is one of the two superspeedway races on the schedule, with the other being Daytona. The races at these two tracks tend to be very unpredictable, and because of this, as well as place differential being so important in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest, the “top” drivers this week had their salaries bumped down since they’re all starting up front. This is not a permanent move, and the “regular” salaries will return next week at Pocono.
As far as making Fantasy NASCAR picks for the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest, here’s my advice: literally anyone in the field is an option this weekend, but I’d stay away from those starting in the top 10. And honestly, I’d probably only pick one driver that starts between 11th and 20th, and focus purely on place differential with the rest of your lineup. Remember, drivers can score negative points in this game, so a driver starts 5th and finishes 35th, that will result in negative 48 points (without taking into account laps led points or Stage points). This is why the best strategy at Talladega is to focus on place differential…and hope for a little good luck.
Random draw set the starting lineup for Sunday’s race at Talladega, with Martin Truex, Jr. pulling the pole. Click here for the full starting lineup for the 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 race day.*
Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest Picks for Talladega
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. ($11,200) – Yep… I’m rolling the dice with Wrecky. Here’s the thing, though: Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. is a great pick at Talladega Superspeedway, and he has one of the lowest DNF rates at this track. Additionally, he’s never finished worse than 26th here in 13 career starts, which is insanely impressive when you take into account how easy it is for The Big One to wipe out half the field. Ricky has eight top 10 finishes in his career here at Talladega and has finished inside that mark in three of the last four races here. He did end up finishing 20th in the Daytona 500 this year, but don’t forget that Stenhouse led 24 of the 211 laps in that race. A 10th-place finish out of Stenhouse on Sunday will net 100 finish + place differential points in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest.
Ryan Preece ($11,000) – The superspeedways are where we see more teammates working together than normal, so I’m going to go ahead and roll with Ricky Stenhouse’s teammate, Ryan Preece, for Sunday’s race. Preece also pulled the 31st starting spot for Sunday’s GEICO 500, so there’s plenty of place differential potential there as well. As far as track history, Ryan finished 3rd in the spring race here last season and followed that up with an 18th-place finish in the fall. At Daytona, he’s posted finishes of 29th, 32nd, and 8th. If Preece can avoid trouble on Sunday I could definitely see him winding up inside the top 15.
Ty Dillon ($10,700) – The younger Dillon brother is masterful at avoiding issues at most tracks–we’ll look past this year’s Bristol race…–and when you can do something like that at a place like Talladega, it’s going to end up in a good finish most of the time. Looking at the last six events at this track, Ty has never finished worse than 17th in those three years, which encompass his entire Cup Series career. His average finish is 13.5 at this track, which ranks 3rd-best among active drivers with more than two starts here. The #13 Chevrolet will roll off the grid from 33rd here on Sunday and Ty should be able to bring it home for a teens finish and a big score in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest.
Corey LaJoie ($9,600) – Believe it or not, Corey LaJoie was the Fantasy NASCAR MVP at Daytona and Talladega last season. No, seriously–he scored the most DraftKings points of any driver in the four races at those two tracks in 2019. And now that he’s had his little feud with Denny Hamlin, I like him that much more. LaJoie drew the 25th starting spot for this weekend’s race, and while that’s a little higher than I’d like, I’m just going to roll with it. Corey finished 11th and 7th in the two Talladega races last season and has finished 8th, 6th, and 18th in the last three Daytona races, with that 8th-place finish coming in this year’s Great American Race.
Brendan Gaughan ($7,400) – There is zero percent chance that Brendan Gaughan doesn’t make it in my Slingshot lineup for Talladega on Sunday. The guy only races at the superspeedways in the Cup Series, and he’s one of those that knows how to avoid the trouble. Over the last six races here at Talladega, Gaughan has an average finish of 19th and he came home 8th in the spring race here last season. Over at Daytona, Brendan finished 7th in this year’s Daytona 500 and has an average finish of 15.3 over the last seven races there. On Sunday, Gaughan will roll off the grid from 39th, which means it’s impossible for him to score negative points in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. Him and Garrett Smithley are the two safest options in this game this weekend.