Fantasy NASCAR: Geico 500 at Talladega Driver Picks

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The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Talladega, Alabama this week for the Toyota Owners 400. The race can be seen Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on Fox. Be sure to test your knowledge of NASCAR by competing in Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing.

Talladega is the second superspeedway on the schedule this season. This is the hardest track to predict a winner because any driver who starts the race has a realistic chance of going to Victory Lane. One wreck can take out half of the field Sunday. Even the drivers who have great stats on restrictor-plate tracks are in danger of finishing last this week.

The best way to select the drivers for your Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing this week is to look at the results from the Daytona 500. Five of the drivers (Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin) who finished in the top 10 in the 2015 Daytona 500 also finished in the top 10 in the Geico 500. There is not much time between the two restrictor-plate races for teams to find aerodynamics for their cars, so the same teams should be up front Sunday.

The best way to use the results from the 2016 Daytona 500 is to not only look at which drivers finished in the top 10, but also look at the driver's average running position in the race. The field gets jumbled up at the end of the race so the finishing order does not necessarily show which cars were fast at Daytona. The average running position reflects more closely which drivers had the fast cars.

Here are the results from the 2016 Daytona 500:

2016 Daytona 500 Finish Position / Average Running Position
Driver Finish Position Avg. Running Position
Denny Hamlin 1 3.65
Martin Truex 2 4.85
Kyle Busch 3 3.87
Kevin Harvick 4 13.8
Carl Edwards 5 26.46
Joey Logano 6 10.99
Kyle Larson 7 11.47
Regan Smith 8 23.36
Austin Dillon 9 15.32
Kurt Busch 10 11.16

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the only driver who finished all four of the 2015 races on the superspeedways in the top 10. Four drivers (Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr.) were able to finish three of the races in the top 10.

Here are the results from the two races at Talladega Superspeedway in 2015:

2015 Geico 500 Results

  1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  2. Jimmie Johnson
  3. Paul Menard
  4. Ryan Blaney
  5. Martin Truex Jr.

2015 500 Results

  1. Joey Logano
  2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  3. Jeff Gordon
  4. Brad Keselowski
  5. Carl Edwards

Qualifying will not be important this week. Drivers can easily go from the back of the pack to the front in only one lap at Talladega. The scoring system for Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing rewards drivers who improve their position in the race more than the drivers who lead the most laps. Fantasy teams should select the top drivers who qualify outside the top 20 for the Geico 500.

Pick to Win

Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($13,000) is the best restrictor-plate driver in the series. He won two of the four races on the superspeedways in 2015 and finished the other two in the top three. Earnhardt has been to Victory Lane at Talladega six times and finished second at the track five times. He is by far the best selection for your Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing team this week.


Jimmie Johnson ($12,700) is not the first driver that comes to mind at superspeedway tracks, but he should be on fantasy team's short list this week. Johnson has won two races at Talladega in his career and he has the third-best driver ranking in the last five restrictor-plate races. Do not be surprised to see the No. 48 car pushing the No. 88 to the checkered-flag since Johnson is already locked into the Chase.

Denny Hamlin ($9,900) proved in the Daytona 500 this year that he is one of the elite restrictor-plate drivers in the Sprint Cup Series. He is better at Daytona than he is at Talladega, but he did win the race in 2014 at this track. Joe Gibbs Racing has fast cars this season and Hamlin is their best driver on the superspeedways.

Kevin Harvick ($13,700) has been Mr. Consistent at Talladega and that is probably the reason he is the highest-priced driver in Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing this week. Harvick has a series-best average finishing position and the third-best driver rating in the last four races at the track. The No. 4 car will be at the front Sunday.

Martin Truex Jr. ($11,000) is one of the more underrated drivers at the superspeedways. He probably should have won the Daytona 500 this year and he will be looking to get his first restrictor-plate track win this week. Truex finished both races at Talladega in the top 10 last year and he should run better this year now that Furniture Row Racing has an alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing. Do not be surprised to see Truex in Victory Lane this week.

Value Picks

Matt Kenseth ($8,000) had one of the fastest cars in the Daytona 500. He started on the front row and led 40 of the 200 laps. The No. 20 car should have finished in the top five, but Denny Hamlin left him out to dry on a late race restart. Kenseth did not run well at Talladega last year, but his car was too good in the first superspeedway race this season to ignore at such a cheap price.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($8,200) is one of the best restrictor-plate drivers in the Sprint Cup Series. He has a series-best average finishing position at Talladega. The Roush Fenway Racing cars are much better this year than they have been in the past. Stenhouse is good at avoiding trouble at the track, so the No. 17 car will have a good chance at a top-10 finish Sunday.

Chase Elliott ($6,400) won the pole for the Daytona 500, but had problems with his car and finished at the back of the pack. I look for him to bounce back this week. Elliott won the Xfinity race at Daytona this year so he knows how to race on the superspeedways. His price is too cheap right now to keep him off your fantasy team at Talladega.

Ryan Blaney ($5,400) could have won this race last year. He was running up front at the end of the race when Jimmie Johnson decided to push his teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr. to the win instead of staying behind Blaney. He has more experience at Talladega than any other track on the circuit. The No. 21 car should be up front once again this week.

Here are my picks for the Geico 500 for Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing:

Driver 1: Dale Earnhardt Jr. $13,000

Driver 2: Jimmie Johnson $12,700

Driver 3: Denny Hamlin $9,900

Driver 4: Matt Kenseth $8,000

Driver 5: Chase Elliott $6,400

FOX Fantasy Auto Resources

- Driver Owner Percentage

- Driver Salaries

And don't forget - prizes are on the line each race of the fantasy season! First, second and third place each win a prize. Plus, each race builds your point total for larger segment and season prizes.

*Stats from and career stats from Racing-Reference.Info...

If you need any further advice with your team or want to see my updated picks after Happy Hour practice, look for me on Twitter (@MrFantasyNASCAR) or LIKE my Fantasy NASCAR Tips Page on Facebook.