Yahoo: Top 30 Drivers
Yahoo / Fox / NASCAR: Quick Picks
With a lap of 193.423 mph in the final round of qualifying, Martin Truex Jr. claimed the pole for Sunday's Hellman's 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. For Truex, it was his first career pole at NASCAR's largest track and his fourth pole award of 2016.
Truex will be joined on the front row by Brad Keselowski. Matt Kenseth will start third, and Chase Elliott and Greg Biffle will round out the top-five. Potential fantasy sleeper David Gilliland was the lone driver who failed to qualify for the racer.
Qualifying always plays a big role in determining the values of drivers in DFS NASCAR, but at a restrictor-plate track like Talladega, starting positions are everything. The place differential category needs to be your focus this weekend, and drivers with the most spots to gain are not only the safest picks, but they are typically the drivers who produce the biggest scores.
You can expect three to four drivers who start outside the top 25 to finish somewhere in the top 15 Sunday. In fact, history says two or three drivers who start outside the top 30 will challenge for top 10s. A place differential of that magnitude will result in a big point by any track's standards, but the impact is magnified by the fact that the pack racing at Talladega severely reduces the value of the laps led and fastest laps run categories.
More importantly, the drivers starting at the back aren't going to ruin your lineup if they have trouble, and since drivers have roughly a 50-50 shot at avoiding trouble at Talladega, there is a high probability that at least one of your drivers will be caught up in a wreck.
Think about this way. If you pick a driver starting in the top five, you will earn 30-plus points if they finish around where they start. If they wreck, you could end up with losing 30-plus points. If you pick a driver starting outside the top 30, you can score 30-plus points if they finish around the top 15 and upwards of 50 points in the crack the top 10. If they wreck, you will break even.
Needless to say, a bad qualifying run is a good qualifying run this weekend, so let's take a closer look at the drivers to target for you DFS NASCAR lineups now that the starting lineup for Sunday's Hellman's 500 is set in stone.
Kevin Harvick ($10,500)
After qualifying 22nd, Harvick is the safest option among the big names. He has six straight top 15s at Talladega, and during that stretch, he owns an average place differential of +12.3. He is in perfect position to deliver a similar performance this weekend, and he carries significantly less risk than the other high-priced options since he is starting in the back half of the field.
Brad Keselowski ($10,300)
I don't like to pick many drivers starting near the front of the field at Talladega, but Keselowski is one driver I will make an exception. He picked up his fourth win at the track back in May, and he has won two of the three plate races this year. He needs a win to advance in the Chase, and he could come up with a dominating performance. He is a high-risk, high-reward option, but he is perfect for GPPs.
Kasey Kahne ($8,300)
Restrictor-plate racing has never been his specialty, but starting 27th, his upside through place differential can't be ignored. Kahne certainly has the equipment to deliver a strong run, and even if he only runs in the top 15, he will be looking to a 40-point afternoon. With plenty to gain and not much to lose, Kahne deserves your attention.
Jamie McMurray ($8,100)
McMurray has a boom-or-bust record at Talladega, but it is a lot easier to gamble on his upside after he qualified 23rd. The two-time Talladega winner has four restrictor-plate wins overall, and he finished fourth in the May race here earlier this year. McMurray has legit top-five upside, and if he has one of his strong runs Sunday, he will end up with a massive point total by the time place differential is factored.
Tony Stewart ($7,600)
It has been a quiet couple of months for Stewart, but anything can happen at a restrictor-plate track, and he has plenty of plate track wins on his resume. He also finished sixth at Talladega in May, and he was running in the top 10 in the closing laps at Daytona in July before getting caught up in a wreck. He starts outside the top 20, so he the place differential category is in his favor this weekend.
Clint Bowyer ($7,400)
Qualifying brought the best-case scenario for Bowyer's fantasy value. He starts 36th, but he has seven top 10s in the last ten races at Talladega, including a seventh-place run in the spring. Bowyer also has eight top 10s in the last ten plate races overall, so he is the closest thing you will find to a reliable option. He is a must-own option in cash games.
A.J. Allmendinger ($7,000)
He isn't known as a plate track specialist, but Allmendinger has more than held his own at Talladega recently. He has four finishes of 17th or better in his last six starts at the track, including a 14th-place run in May. Starting 32nd, he has plenty of room to score points in the place differential category to go along with a safe floor.
Michael McDowell ($6,400)
McDowell qualified way back in 34th, so at the very least, you know he isn't going to cripple your lineup with a huge negative point total. Meanwhile, he has shown some upside at the restrictor-plate tracks this season. He gained ten spots and finished 21st at Talladega in May, and he gained 27 spots and finished 10th at Daytona in July. He is worth a look as a low-priced flier.
David Ragan ($6,300)
There is only one driver in the field who is guaranteed not to lose you points in the place differential category, and that driver is Ragan. He qualified dead last, so he has nowhere to go but up. Granted, his recent results at Talladega haven't been great, but from 2012 through 2013, he reeled off four straight finishes of seventh or better here, including a win. He is a safe, low-priced option with legit upside.
2016 Hellman's 500 Starting Lineup
|1||78||Martin Truex Jr.||Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats||Toyota|
|2||2||Brad Keselowski||Miller Lite||Ford|
|3||20||Matt Kenseth||DeWalt Flexvolt||Toyota|
|4||24||Chase Elliott||NAPA Auto Parts||Chevrolet|
|6||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Zest||Ford|
|7||41||Kurt Busch||Haas Automation/Monster Energy||Chevrolet|
|8||11||Denny Hamlin||FedEx Ground||Toyota|
|9||3||Austin Dillon||American Ethanol||Chevrolet|
|12||55||Reed Sorenson||Premium Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|14||18||Kyle Busch||Snickers Halloween||Toyota|
|15||21||Ryan Blaney||Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire + Auto Center||Ford|
|16||22||Joey Logano||Shell Pennzoil||Ford|
|17||48||Jimmie Johnson||Lowe's Pro Services||Chevrolet|
|18||99||Ryan Reed||Lilly Diabetes/American Diabetes Association||Ford|
|19||88||Alex Bowman||Mountain Dew||Chevrolet|
|21||14||Tony Stewart||Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1||Chevrolet|
|22||4||Kevin Harvick||Jimmy John's||Chevrolet|
|29||7||Regan Smith||Golden Corral||Chevrolet|
|30||10||Danica Patrick||Nature's Bakery||Chevrolet|
|31||38||Landon Cassill||FR8 Auctions||Ford|
|32||47||AJ Allmendinger||Kroger/Scott Products||Chevrolet|
|33||34||Chris Buescher||Love's Travel Stops||Ford|
|34||95||Michael McDowell||KLOVE Radio||Chevrolet|
|35||93||Matt DiBenedetto||Dustless Blasting||Toyota|
|36||15||Clint Bowyer||5-Hour Energy||Chevrolet|
|37||46||Michael Annett||Pilot Flying J||Chevrolet|
|FTQ||35||David Gilliland||Dockside Logistics||Ford|