The Checkered Flag – FREE Picks – Talladega Speedway – NASCAR DFS


Welcome to Talladega everyone!! It’s me, DPA’s NASCAR specialist, Joe Kooinga, back to give you the goods and strategy for this week’s race from a DFS perspective.

This article is going to be completely different then previous style tracks that have run since our return from the pandemic. The engines are restricted to keep the cars below 200mph at about 190-195mph. You don’t use the brake here unless it’s to get onto pit road. And aerodynamics are king. It’s pedal to the metal  and pray luck is on your side this week. I want to be careful with the amount of money you play this week. If anyone tells you they know what’s going to happen, they are lying to you. There’s two different ways you can build this week. I’ll go over both ways. Builds aren’t going to be pretty this week and you’ll probably be using a few guys you’ve either never heard of, or never played before. Super speedway racing is a whole different animal, NASCAR by nature is already unpredictable. Speedway racing adds even another dynamic to that. Can you make it through “the big one?” At these speeds, with the cars so bunched up, one small mistake could, and will, take out 10 or more cars. 


Two ways of thinking for this race type. You select all guys from the back, starting basically 30th and back, and you wait for the big wreck to happen. Dominators are nearly impossible to predict and any of them could wreck, leading to a negative score. So when the big one does happen, up to 25% of the field will get some damage or be eliminated all together. Allowing your drivers to move up, gaining you more bonus points. And eliminating other entries along the way. Usually this style leaves thousands of dollars of salary on the table for you builds. Salaries don’t mean much this week. And you basically have a team filled with punts. It feels risky to put your money on these types of builds. One of the reasons I recommend playing it a little tighter this week. 


You try to pick the winner and you build the rest of your line like the first style. Leaving money on the table and picking punts who start in the back. Can you select 2 guys that could possible win and the rest punts? Sure, but you risk getting a negative score if one or both of your picks happen to crash. This will limit any money you could win. Or stop you from winning all together. So it’s risky. There’s about a 20% chance the race doesn’t have “the big one” if that is the case this style could be beneficial. You could even make a line or two hoping there isn’t a big wreck. I don’t recommend it, again, this is risky. It’s all risky this week. Nobody knows how the cars will react being bunched together and we have no practice yet again. 


Style #1 is going to have basically every driver starting 25th to last in your player pool. Brendan Gaughan (starts 39th), Mike McDowell (Starts 26th), and Ryan Preece (starts 31st) highlight the group back here as the best plays with some history of decent finishes at this track type. Chris Bell (starts 35th), Cole Custer (starts 28th), and Ty Dillon (starts 33rd), are also all in play. Rounding out the plays starting back in the pack would be JJ Yeley (starts 34th), Quinn Houff (starts 32nd), Daniel Saurez (starts 37th), Brennan Poole (starts 27th) and Gray Gaulding (starts 29th) all of these guys are risky plays that look awful until that huge wreck happens. Once it does though, any of these guys could have a +8 place differential, easily making them a solid play, even if they too were to wreck or have any issues after. 


Here’s our best bets to win and a little history behind them

Aric Almirola | 15th | 6,800 DK | 11,000 FD

Aric might have the best overall stats of anyone here over the last 7 years. He’s finished top10 here each and every race in that span. A pretty remarkable stat considering how crazy this race can get. He’s won here before and is certainly one of the better drivers on this track type in the series. DK has him priced way down. But, pricing means very little this week. It does kinda feel like they forgot he was pretty good here though. Starting 15th, if he gets caught up in a wreck you are in some trouble. That’s what’s keeping his price down.

Joey Logano | 9th | 10,200 DK | 13,000 FD

He’s easily one of the best on this track type, he’s won here 3 times since 2015. He will lead laps, damn near guaranteed . He’s actually the highest rated driver here and has led laps in 8 of the last 9 races here. I would have exposure as my pick to win with 4 guys minimum from the back. 

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. | 20th | 8,400 DK| 10,100 FD

Arguably his best track. So Ricky gets his first mention in a write up. Ricky is very risky but very fun to watch here. He’s known for pushing it as hard as anyone. He actually won here in 2017. But he has a few bad finishes (25th & 26th) peppered in with top10’s since. He’s truly gpp. But starting 20th. He’s not as dangerous as someone starting closer to the front. He’s either going to wreck and ruin your line, or he’s going to be a contender all day. There’s even a good chance Ricky is a main cause of ”the big one” due to his ultra aggressive style. Impressively, he’s found his way in the front of the pack to lead at least one lap 6 out of the last 7 races here and he’s actually finished 4 out of the last 5 races here. Can you mix in Ricky and another guy who might win and fill out your team with punts from the back? Sure. It’s risky, but almost everything is risky this week. 

Brad Keselowski | 6th | 9,600 DK | 12,400 FD

This is another guy who has done really well here at times. Starting 6th he’s very risky if he were to be a victim of the big one. 2 out of the last 4 he’s been involved actually, but, he has two stats going his way that proves he’s a contender to win. He’s won here twice prior, and he’s led laps here a whopping 8 races in a row. 

Chase Elliott | 11th | 10,400 DK | 13,300 FD

Chase is the highest salary on both sites. He won this race last year and finished 8th here in the playoff race. He comes with risk as well. Being involved in a wreck 3 out of his last 6 races here. But the races he wasn’t involved he was a top10 finisher. Including that win. 

Ryan Blaney | 12th | 10,100 DK | 12,000 FD

Blaney won here last October. But other then that, it hasn’t been very pretty here for Blaney. That’s his only top10 in his last 6 races here. I’m mentioning him because Penske cars have been hot this year. They are challenging for the best week to week. So he gets a mention as someone you could play hoping he wins. 

Ryan Newman | 14th | 6,700 DK | 8,000 FD

Newman should be considered an ace at this track type. He has a knack for making it to the end of these races. He was 2nd here last October. And has 4 top10’s in his last 5 here. He truly had a scare when his car flipped earlier this year at Daytona in a horrific crash (pictured). This is the first time back on a similar track since that event. I could see him battling for the win at the end. It would be fitting, a good story for the sport. 



Logano, Elliott, Almirola

Place Differential

Preece, Bell, and Gaughan

Other Darts

Stenhouse (RISKY)

Newman (Top 10)  

JJ Yeley (BOLD)

Thank you for joining us for this week’s edition of The Checkered Flag! Make sure to give us a follow on twitter if you haven’t yet already, and stay tuned for more great content headed your way courtesy of your friends at DPA!