Welcome back to FakePigskin’s coverage of NASCAR DFS!
This week the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns to Talladega Superspeedway. Talladega, along with Daytona International Speedway are the two restrictor plate tracks NASCAR races on each season. The restrictor plate restricts air from entering the carburetor and keeps the cars speed down at these giant race tracks. Because of the reduced speeds, cars will use the “draft” off the other race cars to keep up speed and make passes. Think about when you’re on the freeway and you’re driving behind a semi-truck and how your car essentially speeds up quickly. The semi-truck is “punching” a hole in the air which gives your car less wind resistance which allows you to travel faster without as much effort.
This drafting style of racing causes cars to race in large “packs” close together and many times, cars are in limes, three wide, from 1st through 40th. Cars racing so close together as such fast speeds gives little room for error. Make one mistake, and the following happens;
All out chaos.
The combination of the draft allows not only large wrecks, but also equalizes the competition and allows the smaller, more underfunded race teams to compete with the larger, more funded race teams and sometimes pull upsets like below:
With both of these factors, it’s very tough to make predictions because at any moment they can be involved in a large wreck, however I will break down my picks to the best of my abilities. Just like a NASCAR race, my picks will be broken down into three stages: my All Stars, Solid Performers, and Sleepers. This week will be the rare occasion where a race winner can come from any of these categories.
- Brad Keselowski ($9,800): In then last 11 restrictor plate races, Keselowski has two wins and leads all drivers with 320 laps led according to driveraverages.com. The downfall is that Keselowski also has a knack for getting into accidents and is tied for second with all drivers with 4 DNFs (did not finishes). Keselowski got his first career win driving for Phoenix Racing passing Carl Edwards for the win, as Edwards crashed into the catch fence and flipped multiple times. If Keselowski can keep his nose clean, look for him to be a huge threat Sunday to clinch a spot in the round of 8.
- Joey Logano ($10,200): Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano proves to also be a huge threat Sunday. logano leads all drivers with the three wins in the last 11 plate races. Drafting leads to teammates working together so look for Logano and Keselowski to be running 1-2 for a lot of the race.
- Kyle Busch ($10,400): Despite last week’s race from hell where Kyle Busch wrecked multiple times, he and Martin Truex Jr are the hottest drivers in NASCAR. Busch has the second best average finish at 14 over his last nine races (two races missed due to injury). Kyle Busch has also led 126 laps and has only one DNF. With Martin Truex Jr already locked into the round of 8, Kyle Busch will not be far behind to win and lock his entry into the next round of the playoffs.
- Kurt Busch ($8,300): I had Kurt Busch here last week and he was running top five until a late spin ruined his day. Look for Kurt to rebound this week as he leads all drivers with the best average finish of 10th and only has one DNF in the last 10 plate races (missed 1 race due to suspension).
- Matt Kenseth ($8,800): This pick goes beyond the numbers (26.64 average finish with 3 DNFs), but over the last decade, Kenseth has arguably been the best restrictor plate racer with two wins in the Daytona 500 and a near third win in 2016. Kenseth has lad 109 laps in his last 11 plate races and is always running into the top 5. If Kenseth can avoid other driver’s mistakes, expect a top five finish.
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr ($8,000): Can Stenhouse 3-peat? He has won the last two plate races and is averaging a 14th place finish over the last 11 plate races, so the wins are no flukes! Stenhouse needs a win to have an honest chance to make the next round of the playoffs, so that will lead to aggressive moves towards the end of the race. Will it lead to victory or disaster?
- Paul Menard ($7,000): Menard is the opposite of an exciting driver, but he has the fourth highest average finish in the last 11 plate races at 14.55 which is only .55 worse than second place Kyle Busch! His performance warrants being a Solid Performer, but his low salary gives us versatility to place him in our Sleeper Category.
- Aric Almirola ($6,300): A former Daytona winner, Almirola also has two recent wins on plate tracks in the Xfinity series (NASCAR’s AAA series). Almirola is also averaging a 15th place finish with only 1 DNF in his last 10 plate races (one race missed due to injury).
- Michael McDowell ($6,000): McDowell has averaged a 19th place finish in the last 11 plate races. Though McDowell drives for the smaller Levine Family Racing, they have support from Richard Childress Racing and that support HSS improved this team lucky to finish in the top 30 to regularly challenging for top 20 finishes. McDowell also may not have a ride for 2018, so with this being his only realistic shot to win, look for some aggressive driving at the end of the race.
Good luck this weekend. Let’s hope our picks stay out of the “Big One”! You can follow me on Twitter @ScottYoungLV and ask me any questions or provide me with any comments.
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Last weeks results yielded many good finishes, but also two poor finishes:
- Martin Truex Jr: 1st
- Denny Hamlin: 4th
- Daniel Suarez: 6th
- Jimmie Johnson: 7th
- Erik Jones: 17th
- Kurt Busch: 22nd (spun late running 3rd!)
- Danica Patrick: 38th (Qualified a solid 12th)
- Ryan Newman: 40th (DNF-Accident)