The rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for Sunday. The order is not based on the highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by the value of each driver.
The DraftKings NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega slate locks at 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.
1. Ryan Blaney ($10,500) — Since 2016, Blaney has been one of the best plate racers in NASCAR. Since 2020 (10 races at Talladega and Daytona), Blaney has three wins, a second-place finish, a fourth-place finish and a ninth-place finish.
2. Denny Hamlin ($9,100) — Over the last 27 plate races, only Aric Almirola has a better average finishing position and that number is only separated by tenths of a point. He doesn’t always win these races, but he wins them more than anyone else.
3. Chris Buescher ($6,900) — His plate track stats over the last two seasons might be the best in NASCAR. The Roush driver has three top-10 finishes at Daytona and three more at Talladega. He also finished seventh at Atlanta.
4. Joey Logano ($10,300) — His slump continues at Daytona (zero top 10s and an average finish of 23rd over the last six), but he might be back to being the best at Talladega. After several poor finishes, he finished third at Talladega last fall.
5. Chase Elliott ($9,900) — At the beginning of his Cup career, Elliott was good at Talladega and struggled at Daytona. Now, he’s good at Daytona (four top 10s in a row) and is struggling at Talladega (zero top 10s in the last four).
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6. Aric Almirola ($7,500) — From 2018 to 2020, Almirola earned eight consecutive top-10 finishes at Talladega. The unbelievable streak had to come to an end. Almirola’s new streak is three consecutive finishes of 15th or worse.
7. Kyle Larson ($10,100) — He’s too good of a racer to not figure out this plate racing thing. Even if he doesn’t figure it out, his luck has to change at some point. Here are Larson’s last six finishes at Talladega: 37th, 40th, 39th, 24th, 11th and 40th. At least he finished 11th once.
8. William Byron ($9,600) — He won the quasi-plate race at the new Atlanta. In the last three Talladega races, Byron has a second-place finish and a fourth-place finish. He also has a 36th place finish. That’s plate racing.
9. Ty Dillon ($6,100) — Is any play safe this week? Does it make sense to target a driver with limited upside? Those are the questions surrounding Ty Dillon. In his last eight Talladega races, Dillon’s average finish is 12th with a high of third and a low of 17th.
10. Justin Haley ($5,800) — His win in the 2019 Daytona summer race was pure luck, but he keeps earning solid Cup Series finishes. His Kaulig Racing equipment is competitive at plate tracks, and his Xfinity Series record speaks for itself.
11. Bubba Wallace ($8,100) — 23XI Racing doesn’t have the best cars, but Bubba proved that didn’t matter at the plate tracks by winning at Talladega last fall. For those that doubted that win, Bubba again proved that this team could compete at the plate tracks by finishing second in the 2022 Daytona 500.
12. Brad Keselowski ($8,900) — The switch to Roush has ended his DFS relevance except at plate tracks. He’ll be fine as long as he doesn’t try to wreck everyone like he did at Daytona. Last season, he finished first and second at Talladega.
13. Kurt Busch ($7,400) — He finished third at Atlanta and fourth in last fall’s Talladega race. Over the last 13 Talladega races, Busch’s average finish of 14th ranks fourth among qualified drivers.
14. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. ($7,600) — This is the last time. It’s been a long time since Stenhouse won a plate race (2017). It’s been a long time since Stenhouse consistently earned top-10 finishes at Talladega. If he doesn’t do anything this time, then he will not be ranked for the Daytona race.
15. Noah Gragson ($5,400) — It is likely that Gragson will start in the back. It is also likely that people will be hesitant to play Gragson because he has not finished better than 27th in his three Cup Series races. This will be his second plate race with Beard Motorsports. This team earned four top-10 finishes in 16 plate races with Brendan Gaughan driving. A 25% top-10 rate is amazing for a small team.
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