NASCAR DFS: YellaWood 500by Dale Money October 1, 2021 0 comments
Now that Denny Hamlin has won Las Vegas, he’s the only driver who’s guaranteed a spot in the Round of Eight, with Talladega looming this Sunday. Talladega has the potential to make or break a playoff driver’s chances of advancing. At this very unpredictable Superspeedway, there is much to be said about being in the right place at the right time.
Looking at the track specs for Talladega Superspeedway, it is a 2.66-mile tri-oval. Talladega and Daytona offer a unique engine package that is much different from all other tracks on the schedule. As part of its effort to slow down speeds at the restrictor plate tracks, NASCAR made some notable rules changes. One of those changes involved reducing the holes in the tapered spacer by an inch. As a result, horsepower will decrease by 50.
Talladega is the longest track in the NASCAR Cup Series, coupled with the fact that no driver has proven to hold the lead for very long, so you can expect multiple drivers to finish with double-digit laps led. There hasn’t been a dominant performance at the Superspeedway since Kurt Busch led 108 laps in 2018. In addition, if you buy multiple teams this Sunday, be sure to mix and match your driver selections to avoid disappointment. Rarely does someone leave a restrictor plate event with their entire team intact.
This week, the Money Train delves into the DFS options for Sunday’s Cup Series event in Talladega, AL. The selections are broken down between high salary, mid-range, and value play. Included are player salaries from both FanDuel (FD) and DraftKings (DK). Best of luck to everyone with lineups this weekend.
Ryan Blaney (12,500 FD | 10,700 DK)
Blaney has been unable to replicate the back-to-back wins since entering the playoffs, but it hasn’t stopped him from keeping his cars competitive. Despite finishing fifth at Las Vegas, it was no easy feat for him, as he battled his way back from as deep as 21st in the second segment. The performance was gutsy and indicative of how he has been racing through the late stages of the season.
Blaney, who has won two of the last four Talladega races, will be a highly sought-after piece for any team. That is not to downplay his capabilities as lap leader here, having led 10 laps or more in each of the last four races at the track. Talladega tends not to be a dominators track historically, but he is sure to lead some laps this weekend. Once we get to the late cautions, he should be able to get some help from the Fords. It could make a big difference as Blaney looks to provide Ford with a guaranteed driver for the round of eight.
Aric Almirola (10,800 FD | 9,200 DK)
It is remarkable how Almirola has almost grown into a Talladega automatic, unlike so many other big names. Up until the Talladega race last October, Almirola had built up eight straight top-eight finishes. He shares that streak with Dale Earnhardt Jr., who won here six times in his career. Having never led more than 70 laps at the track, he hasn’t been considered a dominator. However, he led 16 laps in April, after starting from 14th, so he may end up surprising. In addition, starting in the 20th position will afford him plenty of opportunities to make up places if he takes advantage on Sunday. Getting Almirola to finish in the top 12 should provide owners with an adequate return for their investment.
Joey Logano (13,000 FD | 7,900 DK)
Logano’s late caution didn’t show up last week, so he was limited to a modest 11th place finish. The race at Talladega will be a critical one for Logano, who holds just a six-point lead over William Byron. In his Cup career, he has led 407 laps at Talladega, the most of any current driver. At first glance, an average finish of 17.52 might seem modest, but you gotta keep in mind that he’s already competed 25 times at Talladega. Only four other current drivers who have raced here 25 times or more have a better average finish.
He’s one of the most expensive drivers on FanDuel, but on DraftKings, his price is just under $8,000, which is a complete bargain when you consider the potential he provides at this track. While Logano is a gamble this week, given the starting position, every playoff driver runs the risk of being unlucky at Talladega. Logano should be on at least some of your rosters if you’re building multiple teams for this race.
Corey Lajoie (4,000 FD | 6,900 DK)
Lajoie is a driver I like to secure once we reach the restrictor plates. Whether he finishes strong or not, Lajoie is usually one of those low-key drivers you’ll find near the front when a race goes deep. It was with GO FAS Racing that he scored his best performances in Talladega, scoring two top 11 finishes in four attempts, one of which resulted in a seventh-place result. Lajoie didn’t blow us away in April in his first attempt here in Spire equipment. Nonetheless, he did finish ninth in this year’s Daytona 500.
With a qualifying position of 29th, LaJoie should help balance out a roster with multiple highly-placed drivers. He has a lighter history here as a Cup Series driver but has kept his cars running throughout each of the seven visits attempted. It is unlikely that he will cost you a win even if he encounters some issues.
Follow Dale Money on Twitter @packerd_00
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images