NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: YellaWood 500
If you are looking for an action-packed way to get your sports fix, NASCAR may be a great avenue to explore. Far from just driving in circles, some of the world's best compete nearly every weekend from February to November on tracks across America. NASCAR drivers are scored ultimately based on how they finish in the race, how many spots they advance from their starting position, and how many laps they finish and lead. Avoiding drivers who crash out of the race is a must, of course!
numberFire is always your home for fantasy NASCAR advice. In addition to this helper, Jim Sannes has you covered with his betting odds and form breakdown as well as his track preview to spotlight this week's venue. For driver picks and a full preview of the event, he also discussed this weekend's race on the latest NASCAR episode of The Heat Check Daily Fantasy Podcast.
This is Talladega. As the ultimate wild card in NASCAR's 2021 playoffs, the massive drafting oval often sees 40 cars separated by less than 3 seconds. Only one driver is entirely safe from a wild, multi-car crash ending their championship hopes, and that is last week's winner Denny Hamlin. The other 11 playoff drivers will have to test their fate at the world's fastest roulette wheel.
There will be no practice and qualifying this weekend, and using the qualifying formula from last week in Las Vegas, the winner Hamlin will start on the pole. His teammate Kyle Busch will start outside Row 1, and the rest of the playoff drivers will also start in the top-12 spots of the starting lineup.
At drafting ovals, stacking drivers starting toward the back is optimal. Laps led are heavily dispersed, and the drivers starting toward the back are less vulnerable to the inevitable mass crashes that will ensure. Unfortunately, all the fast, playoff drivers will start up front, so picking one (or two) that survive and finish well will likely be necessary to get the FanDuel points for winning the race.
With all of this in mind, let's preview the YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on FanDuel.
Denny Hamlin ($14,000): A driver starting on the pole is usually an afterthought. Hamlin is far from one. Hamlin's drafting oval prowess is essentially alone at the top tier as a three-time Daytona 500 winner, and Hamlin is second in laps led on this configuration with 348 since the start of 2018. He has absolutely nothing to lose on Sunday, which is helpful from the perspective that he has no incentive to ride at the back and miss out on laps led. He is not for cash games but is a top-notch option as an assumed winner in tournaments.
William Byron ($12,000): Of the high-salary favorites, Byron has the best overall profile considering his 10th-place starting spot. There is no doubting his ability in this rules package, as Byron won at Daytona last fall to clinch a playoff spot. Hendrick Motorsports has won the Daytona 500 pole (the only time trial on this style of track) seven of the last eight years, and generally, they are regarded as having the fastest cars on these styles of tracks. A tire issue last week has Byron in a situation where he must have a good points day to advance to the next round, so there is some downside he could ride in the back during the event, but as long as he is around at the finish, his chances to win are as good as anyone.
Others to Consider: Joey Logano ($13,000)
Bubba Wallace ($11,500): Give a round of applause to FanDuel for heavily increasing the salary on some of the better plays toward the back of the pack, and Wallace is chief among them. There is no secret that this is Bubba's favorite track type, as he has led in the last five superspeedway events while normally running mid-pack. Wallace's largest boost in this spot -- other than a workable 19th-place starting spot -- is that his fast Toyota teammates Hamlin and Kyle Busch ($9,800) are two of the favorites to win the race, and Wallace can run with them towards the front of the field. It is what enabled him to finish second at Daytona in August, and he is hoping for one spot better on Sunday.
Aric Almirola ($10,800): This mid-range is where I want to live building lineups for Sunday, even if it means saving tons of salary. Almirola is one of the better options outside the top-20 spots, as he can contend for a second Talladega win after capturing the checkered flag back in 2018. Of the drivers that have run all 15 drafting races since the start of 2018, Almirola's 16.07 average finish is third-best behind Hamlin and Joey Logano. That mark includes six top-10 finishes, and Almirola is one of the "horses for the course" at the drafting venues that has a knack for surviving the chaos. His teammate Kevin Harvick ($9,500) needs a great run to advance in the playoffs, so Almirola is a good stacking option when using Harvick as the assumed winner toward the front.
Others to Consider: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($10,300), Chris Buescher ($8,600), Cole Custer ($8,400), Ross Chastain ($8,200), Ryan Preece ($8,000)
Justin Haley ($7,700): Haley is the best value play on the slate. He starts 38th in the part-time Kaulig Racing entry, but there is no concern with his equipment quality. This team finished seventh in the Daytona 500 with Kaz Grala, and they became the first part-time team to win a non-drafting oval in NASCAR's playoff era. Haley is a talented drafter himself, as he has two Daytona wins and two Talladega wins in the last four years in NASCAR's Xfinity Series. Truly, Haley should be one of the highest-salaried drivers in this weekend's pool with a non-zero chance to win, great equipment, and a deep starting spot, but his package is available at a value-tier salary. He is a must for cash games.
Justin Allgaier ($6,100): When attempting to differentiate in this area, Michael McDowell ($6,300) should be popular as the 2021 Daytona 500 winner, but the Xfinity Series regular Allgaier -- driving Justin Haley's normal car -- is an interesting dart throw. Spire Motorsports is usually behind on speed on most tracks, but Corey Lajoie drove to 9th- and 16th-place finishes in a Spire Motorsports machine this year at Daytona. Allgaier has amazingly never won an Xfinity Series drafting oval race, but he has eight career top-five finishes in them. Allgaier is the fastest car whose primary strategy is likely to ride in the back, avoid the mayhem, and hope to prevail with a top-10 finish. If he does from the 33rd starting spot, he likely makes the perfect FanDuel lineup.
Others to Consider: Erik Jones ($7,500), Michael McDowell ($6,300), Ryan Newman ($5,300)