NASCAR heads to Talladega for the second race of the second round of the playoffs. As always, I’ll give you my NASCAR DFS picks and projections for this weekend’s race. Be sure to check out the 10 must-know facts for this weekend’s race. Also, the NASCAR DFS Multi-Lineup Optimizer, Sim Scores, and Splits apps will be updated shortly after this publishes.
If you’re new to daily fantasy NASCAR, or simply need a refresher, check out the restrictor plate section of my track types article. Brush up on your general GPP strategy and game theory if you want to have a shot at taking down first place. If you’re more of a cash game player, check out how to target high floor drivers.
Let’s get to the NASCAR DFS picks and projections for Talladega!
NASCAR DFS MODEL PROJECTIONS FOR Talladega
This weekend I have a bunch of models. In addition to the main model, which projects finishing position based off removing DNFs, I also have a model that projects average finishing position with DNFs, a game theory optimal (GTO) ownership percentage model, and a DNF probability model.
The GTO projections are based off of starting position and past race results at non-Daytona 500 plate races. Obviously, these projections are agnostic to the individual driver, so you’ll want to adjust from the GTO projections to account for driver quality.
The DNF projections also use the same set of races to project DNF probability for drivers, and is not solely starting-position based. Instead, it uses multiple factors like my points projection models do.
Before we dive into the NASCAR DFS picks, lets have a look at the different models!
POINTS & DNF MODEL (Note: Projected Ownership will be added later)
|Martin Truex Jr||11||8.73||7.58||3.92||41.4||8400||14.5%||48.30%||23.88|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||12||12.29||12.14||4.43||36.68||9000||12.4%||33.80%||18.46|
As a note, this next model is only starting-position based. You’ll likely want to be heavier than suggested for better drivers in that starting position, and lighter than suggested for worse drivers in a given starting position to be somewhere near optimal. This is based on historic data only, and is not suggesting how this race will play out. It’s simply suggesting what starting position distribution has historically led to the highest ROI for this weekend’s largest DraftKings GPP tournament.
GTO OWNERSHIP ONLY CONSIDERING STARTING POSITION
Now let’s dive into the NASCAR DFS picks!
NASCAR DFS PICKS – CASH GAMES
Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray, and Paul Menard ($8000, $7200, and $7800) — I don’t need to waste a ton of time explaining these three. All three are all on high-funded teams, start 30th or worse, and have solid plate history. Larson nearly won the 2017 Daytona 500, McMurray is a Daytona 500 winner and a multi-time plate winner, and Paul Menard has three top-six finishes in his last seven plate races. He also led at Talladega earlier this year, on speed, not through strategy. They are all fine GPP plays, but will be the three highest owned drivers on the slate.
NASCAR DFS PICKS – GPPS
Trevor Bayne and Regan Smith ($6600 and 6300) — These two drivers are in a similar boat. Both are part-time drivers who have no relevance in the points standings. Bayne talked about riding in the back early, and making his move going for a win late. He has a car that should be capable of making a push for the win, given teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has led at every plate race this year, including 51 laps at the most recent plate race. Bayne has solid finishes himself, winning the 2011 Daytona 500 and finishing third in this race last year. Regan Smith has had solid finishes when he last raced for a respectable team at plate tracks — Phoenix Racing and Furniture Row. Smith’s three most recent finishes for those two teams at plate races are a 6th, 7th, and 5th. Smith also has two plate wins in the Xfinity series. I expect these two to go overlooked for drivers like Chris Buescher and A.J. Allmendinger who also have solid plate finishes recently, start in the same range, and run full time. They could battle for stage points, to try to get a higher points finish in the driver standings. Allmendinger in particular should be aggressive going for a win in what might be one of his last real chances to win, which increases his DNF probability in my eyes.
Denny Hamlin ($10,000) — I’m not saying go crazy on Hamlin, but I’m going to have more exposure to Hamlin than GTO suggests, and probably more than the field will end up having, although I tend to go light on drivers starting further forward, so I could end up equal or slightly under. That said, he’ll be one of my heavier owned drivers starting further forward. I think he’ll go overlooked for drivers like Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and Ryan Blaney, as well as the Stewart-Haas drivers up front, and maybe even Chase Elliott. Hamlin wants to continue his consecutive years win streak, and this race plus Martinsville are probably his two best remaining shots for 2018. Hamlin led the second-most laps and finished third at the Daytona 500 earlier this year, and also led 11 laps at the first Talladega race. Starting 10th gives him some place differential potential to go along with potential dominator points.
NASCAR DFS Talladega FADES
Kyle Busch ($9400) — If you listened to this week’s podcast, you’ll remember that I said Busch and Kevin Harvick have two likely strategies. Either stay out front, or run in back. Well, Busch didn’t qualify far enough forward to feel comfortable about him staying there. That’s doubly true with the Toyotas looking inferior to the Fords. I expect Busch to drop to the rear if things get dicey and ride there. That prevents him from being the one dominator, and means we’d need him to wind up in the winning lineup thanks to place differential and finishing position. He’s a safe-ish bet to finish, but doesn’t have much upside. I’ll probably have less than five percent exposure to him on Sunday.