NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: GEICO 500 at Talladega

 
We had fun in the dirt last week at Bristol, although it was a disappointing one for Tyler Reddick who had his first Cup Series win in sight, if not for a failed slide job from Chase Briscoe. 

In the end, Kyle Busch got his first Cup Series win of the season by being in the right place at the right time, earning a rousing round of booing from the fans. It was Kyle's 60th career win, most among active drivers, and the ninth-most of all-time. He is now tied with Richard Petty, having 18 seasons with at least one trip to Victory Lane in the Cup Series. 

Can Talladega beat Bristol's exciting finish? Will we get another new winner on Sunday? Stay tuned.
 
This Week's Pick Strategy:
We're not getting any practice this weekend, and the only thing we're going to see during qualifying is who has a fast car for qualifying. So I'm going to use statistics and momentum to guide my picks. I'm focusing on Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing drivers since they have a history for running well here. I'm also going to look at who qualifies second, as that spot yields a winner nearly 20% of the time. Then I'll sprinkle in drivers who've been oh-so-close to winning this season who also happen to run well here. (And then I'm going to pray that they don't get caught up in the "Big One"!)

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race 
Both with 4 - Aric Almirola and Kurt Busch
All with 3 - Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Alex Bowman, and Kevin Harvick

By Track
Aric Almirola - 7
Denny Hamlin - 6
All with 5 - Joey Logano, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Kurt Busch
All with 4 - Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliot, and Erik Jones

Recent Pole Winners:
2021 Denny Hamlin (Set by Metric Qualifying)
2020 Martin Truex Jr. (Held June 22; Set by Metric Qualifying)
2019 Austin Dillon
 
Last Year's Race Winner: Brad Keselowski

The Likely Suspects: My Talladega elites include Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, Denny Hamlin, and Chase Elliott.
 
My 2 Cents: This week's no-brainer pick is a tie between Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski. My next picks are Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick, Tyler Reddick, and Bubba Wallace. I will round out my roster with Ty Dillon and Daniel Suarez.
 
Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is Joey Logano. Joey can win at any track, but his record here is respectable with three wins, nine Top 5s, and 11 Top 10s. He has also led the most laps among all active Cup Series drivers at 'Dega with 416 in 26 starts.

My Final Four: Brad Keselowski, Tyler Reddick, Bubba Wallace, and Ty Dillon

Points to Ponder:
  • Kevin Harvick (2005, 2018) and Chase Elliott (2016, 2019) lead all active drivers in poles at Talladega with two each. 
  • The outside front row (second-place) starting position is the most prolific starting position in the field, producing more winners (20) than any other starting position at Talladega (19%).
  • Brad Keselowski leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in victories at Talladega Superspeedway with six (2009, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2021). Other active Cup driver with multiple wins at Talladega include Joey Logano with three (2018, 2016, 2015), Ryan Blaney with two (2020, 2019) and Denny Hamlin with two (2020, 2014).
  • Kevin Harvick leads all active Cup drivers with three runners-up finishes at Talladega (2003, 2004, 2010).
  • Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and Kurt Busch lead all active series drivers in Top 5s at Talladega with nine each.
  • Kurt Busch leads all active Cup drivers in Top 10s at Talladega with 22.
  • Ty Dillon (eight starts) leads all series active drivers in average finishing position at Talladega with a 12.0.
  • Joey Logano leads all active Cup drivers in laps led at Talladega with 416 in 26 starts. 
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your initial picks by 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 23rd, and your final picks by 3 p.m. ET on race day Sunday, April 24th.
 
Enjoy the race!
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Carol D'Agostino has been playing Fantasy NASCAR for 16 years. She launched  NASCAR Fantasy Fusion for Skirts & Scuffs in October 2011. Each week, Carol pores through statistics and combs through her personal notebooks to arm fans with analysis and picking strategies that will leave their friends wondering how they got so smart. Carol also does race coverage for Skirts & Scuffs at Richmond Raceway and occasionally at her home track, Dover International Speedway. She is also part of the distinguished NASCAR Expert Picks panel at frcs.pro. formerly called Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet.

When she isn’t wielding her fantasy-racing superpowers, you’ll find Carol hammering out a news release or creating a marketing strategy at a small niche public relations firm she founded called Purple Cat or executing downtown revitalization projects for a small town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: GEICO 500 at Talladega NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: GEICO 500 at Talladega Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Friday, April 22, 2022 Rating: 5

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