Our fourth and final “pick anyone” week is here as the YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway is on Sunday afternoon. Everyone should know the deal with Talladega by now: anything can happen, and anyone can finish up front. That’s why pretty much any driver is on the table to be picked on Sunday. Still, fantasy game theory should come into your mind this weekend…in other words, don’t forget the importance of place differential, and how negative place differential can really hurt your fantasy team in this game. I explain more about this in my video (linked below).
*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.*
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Jordan’s Strategy Breakdown Video
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Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest Picks for the YellaWood 500 at Talladega
Landon Cassill ($7,900) – There’s no such thing as a “safe” NASCAR Fantasy pick at Talladega, but Landon Cassill is the safest pick in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest this weekend. Why? Because he can’t score negative points. With Cassill starting dead last, even if he blows an engine on lap one and is the first car out, he’s going to score 2 fantasy points in this game. Meanwhile, if Denny Hamlin does the same thing, he’s going to score negative 76 points. With Landon Cassill on Sunday afternoon, it’s all upside potential because of his starting spot. The #96 Toyota that he’s driving isn’t a terrible car, and his record here at Talladega isn’t bad, either: Cassill has a career average finish of 24.5 here with his three most recent results being 14th, 34th, and 22nd with StarCom Racing.
Justin Haley ($7,500) – Again, another safe pick here. I explained this in a little more detail in my video (linked above). This weekend, Justin Haley is racing the #16 Chevrolet for Kaulig Racing. This actually gives him a little fantasy boost because this Kaulig car has a little more power than his typical Spire Motorsports car. Looking at this #16 Chevrolet this season on superspeedways, Kaz Grala ran the first three races for this team, finishing 28th in the Daytona 500 (after leading 10 laps), finishing 6th at Talladega, and then finishing 35th in the second Daytona race after wrecking out. Justin Haley is actually a very good superspeedway racer, and finished 11th in this race one year ago in his Spire car. He wound up 6th in the fall Daytona race this year as well.
The Shitboxes ($5,000 – $6,000) – This is the week to pick the awful cars if you want to. Guys like Cody Ware, BJ McLeod, Joey Gase, Josh Bilicki, Garrett Smithley, Quin Houff, and yes, even David Starr are on the table for Sunday’s race because here’s the thing: they just have to survive. All of these drivers are starting back in the 30s, so if there is a major wreck and they get through it, that’s going to be a great points day in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. Looking back at the second Daytona race this season, Josh Bilicki and BJ McLeod both scored over 120 Slingshot points, and in the Daytona 500, Cody Ware, BJ McLeod, and Josh Bilicki all scored 70+ points in this game.
Joey Logano ($12,500) – Place differential is the name of the game in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest this weekend, and in the video I mentioned that I’m probably not going to pick anyone starting in the top 10. However, there are a couple of drivers up there that have my eye. First off, Joey Logano, who starts 8th. Logano is one of the best superspeedway racers in the field and is a three-time Talladega winner. He’s also finished inside the top 5 in four of the last eight races here. The bad news? His last four results at this track have been 11th or worse. Still, Logano can get to the front and compete for the win on Sunday afternoon. Looking at percentages of completed laps inside the top 15 on superspeedway this year, Logano is 2nd-best behind Kyle Busch in that category at 82.94% (350 of 422 laps completed).
William Byron ($11,400) – Same story here with William Byron as is with Joey Logano. This #24 Chevrolet is strong on superspeedway, and Byron is capable of leading laps and challenging for the win. Looking at track records, Willy B has finished 2nd, 4th, and 11th in the last three Talladega races, and he has a win and a 2nd-place finish to his credit in the summer Daytona races. The bad news? All other ten superspeedway starts for Byron have ended with him in 20th or worse. This is definitely a risky NASCAR Fantasy pick on Sunday, but Byron has upside, and he needs a very good run to keep his Playoff hopes alive.
Austin Dillon ($9,000) – Between the two superspeedway tracks, Daytona has always been the better of the two for Austin Dillon, but he’s coming around here at Talladega; over the last six races here, AD has finished 17th or better five times, and in the last four, he has two top 10s and three finishes of 12th or better. Additionally, looking at the three superspeedway races this season, you have to like the fact that Dillon has completed 81.8% of his laps inside the top 15 (454 of 555 laps), and his average running position of 9.9 over those three races is 2nd-best to Kyle Busch’s 7.6 average. Austin starts from 16th on Sunday, so he’s not as risky as the Playoff drivers, but still kind of risky in this game.
“Race Winner” Pick = Ryan Blaney – Young Ryan Blaney is a stellar superspeedway racer and is a two-time winner here at Talladega (both coming in the last four races). He also won the summer Daytona race this season. Finally, Ford has been great at Talladega lately, winning 10 of the last 12 races.