NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: YellaWood 500 at Talladega

Hmm. So far the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs have been dominated by non-Playoff drivers who have demonstrated that just because they aren't competing for a title doesn't mean they don't have some wins left in them this season. Last week it was Tyler Reddick who earned his trip to Victory Lane in what was a drama-filled race featuring a record 36 lead changes as well as a record 16 caution periods, a little rain and lightning, some issues between William Byron and Denny Hamlin, and we won't count the tire issues.
This week's race could very well continue the pattern of non-Playoff spoiler winners as six times a non-Playoff driver has won the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway. Should be interesting, but isn't Talladega racing always interesting?

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):

By Race
Denny Hamlin - 5
All with 3 - Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, and Erik Jones.
All with 2 - Ty Dillon, Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

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 Elliott, and Erik Jones.

Last Year's Race Winner: Bubba Wallace
The Likely Suspects: My Talladega go-tos include Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, Erik Jones, Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Ty Dillon, Kevin Harvick, and Bubba Wallace.
My 2 Cents: My no-brainer pick this week is Denny Hamlin. My next picks are Chase Elliott, Christopher Bell, Aric Almirola, Brad Keselowski, and Joey Logano. I will complete my team with Ty Dillon and Erik Jones.

My Final Four: Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and Ty Dillon.

Second-Look Driver: My sleeper pick this week is Aric Almirola. In 25 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Talladega, Aric has one win, nine Top 10s, five Top 5s, and has led 71 laps. In the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Talladega, he visited Victory Lane in May 2017. This could be Aric's race to win.

Points to Ponder:
  • The outside front row (second starting position) is the most prolific starting position in the field, producing more winners (20) than any other starting position at Talladega Superspeedway in the NASCAR Cup Series.
  • Hendrick Motorsports leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Talladega Superspeedway with 13 victories, followed by Richard Childress Racing with 12. Team Penske has the third-most wins here with 10.
  • Eleven of the 51 NASCAR Cup Series race winners at Talladega Superspeedway are active this weekend. They are Brad Keselowski with 6; Joey Logano with 3; Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney with two each; as well as Ross Chastain, Bubba Wallace, Chase Elliott, Aric Almirola, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kevin Harvick, and Kyle Busch with one each.
  • Kevin Harvick leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers with three runner-up finishes at Talladega Superspeedway. 
  • Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, and Joey Logano lead all active Cup Series drivers in Top 5s at Talladega with nine each.
  • Kevin Harvick leads all active drivers in Top 10s at Talladega with 19.
  • Ty Dillon (nine starts) leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series in average finishing position at Talladega with a 14.333.
  • Joey Logano leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in laps led at Talladega with 417 in 27 starts. 

Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your initial picks by 8 a.m. ET on Saturday, October 1st and your final picks by 2 p.m. ET on race day, Sunday, October 2nd. 
Enjoy the race!
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 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: YellaWood 500 at Talladega NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: YellaWood 500 at Talladega Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Friday, September 30, 2022 Rating: 5