FREE NASCAR DFS Cup Series Talladega Breakdown, Cheat Sheet, and Cores

Welcome to my weekly FREE NASCAR DFS from Run Pure Sports! Today I will attempt to breakdown the highly anticipated Geico 500 at the LEGENDARY Talladega Superspeedway. With the green flag set to wave at 3:18 PM EST, the stage is set for an adrenaline-fueled afternoon of high-speed, action-packed racing. Talladega is known for its thrilling pack racing and seldom fails to deliver edge of your seat excitement. The 2.66-mile tri-oval, the longest in the NASCAR circuit, is a test of skill, strategy, and luck. Cars will be tightly packed together, raising the likelihood of “The Big One” – a multi-car accident that can drastically alter the outcome of the race and the your day’s DFS outcome.

In this article, I’ll break down the key factors to consider as you build your DFS lineups, identifying the types of drivers to target and potential under owned options. So, buckle up and get ready for an exhilarating ride as we dive into the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway!


By now, you’re likely familiar with the inherent unpredictability of Super Speedways, making DFS a potentially frustrating endeavor. Will there be a massive crash? Will drivers simply line up and ride for 160 laps? Could there be a surprise winner? Today’s race holds limitless possibilities, which will significantly influence the optimal lineup. While chasing the optimal lineup can be an exciting challenge, the best strategy for these races remains focusing on cash games and stacking drivers from the back. Start with this approach, and then feel free to experiment with GPP lineups to your heart’s content.

It’s essential to recognize the distinctions between races at Talladega and Daytona. While chaos is virtually guaranteed at Daytona, Talladega presents a more balanced probability of chaos, leaning towards a 50/50 chance. In the past 10 non-rain-shortened races at Talladega, an average of 11 cars have suffered DNFs, and 22.5 cars have finished on the lead lap. This contrasts sharply with Daytona, where the last 10 races have seen an average of 17 cars DNF and a mere 14 cars finishing on the lead lap. With fewer incidents and more space for drivers to maneuver during crashes, Talladega allows more cars to reach the finish line. Consequently, there’s less upside for back markers, who typically offer significant value at Daytona.

When constructing your lineup for a race at Talladega, it’s crucial to prioritize position differential points. The track’s unique characteristics make it different from typical NASCAR DFS weekend. With only 188 laps, there are fewer dominator points available than in most other races. Additionally, the lead at Talladega tends to change hands frequently; no driver has led more than 63 laps in the last eight races. Fast laps are also distributed across the field due to the drafting effect. All these factors contribute to a lower dominator upside—the most dominator points scored in the last eight Talladega races was just 16.25.

When examining DraftKings data from the last eight Talladega races, 56% of the top six scorers started outside the top 20. Interestingly, this same group accounted for only 28% of the bottom 10 scores. This statistic emphasizes the high ceiling and high floor of drivers starting in this range, underscoring the importance of building the majority of your lineup with drivers from this group.

On the other hand, a mere 11% of the top six scorers started within the top 10, while this group contributed to a staggering 40% of the bottom 10 scores. I’m going to be avoiding this range today because their limited upside isn’t worth the risk. I know there are some GPP players out there and of course it is possible that a Top 10 starter is optimal, so if you choose to include drivers starting in the top 10, exercise caution and consider limiting your selection to no more than one in your lineup.

The unpredictable nature of Talladega makes getting different even more important today. If we all agree that no one really knows what is going to happen today, then why the hell would you fall in line and play the same guys everyone else is playing? This doesn’t necessarily mean we have to look to the front of the field either.

Rather than opting for the well-known higher dollar PD options, consider targeting lesser-known, more affordable drivers with similar or even greater potential upside. DFS players will gravitate to the higher dollar PD plays since salary is not an issue on today’s slate. The lower priced PD options will likely have lower ownership, increasing your chances of a significant payout if they manage to avoid the chaos. Back markers are also an option. They can provide low-owned upside without the risk of a significant negative impact in case of a wreck. These drivers will need “The Big One” to happen to have a big day, so if you are playing back markers in a line up, that whole line up should be constructed for chaos. With so many drivers to choose from in terms of ownership, PD, or outright winning potential, trust your instincts and play the drivers you believe in.

One final tip for lineup construction at Talladega is not to be afraid to leave salary on the table. Super Speedway builds can have more than $5k remaining, and that’s perfectly acceptable. If you find yourself using all of your available salary, it’s time to reevaluate your approach for this unique and unpredictable race.

Cheat Sheet (Please read the Cheat Sheet notes today)

Here is my Cheat Sheet for today’s Talladega race, which includes driver data from the five large Super Speedway races using the new car since the beginning of 2022. Keep in mind that essentially EVERY driver is a potential contender today, so the Cheat Sheet’s format has been adjusted accordingly.

Drivers highlighted in red are ones I won’t be playing personally. If you decide to include any red-marked drivers, it’s advised to limit them to one per lineup. Blue-labeled drivers are the PD options that are likely to have high ownership. If you are playing them in tournaments, I recommended to not have more than two blue drivers in a lineup. If I’m fading one it’s Byron.

Green-highlighted drivers are PD options that will likely be moderately owned, not chalk and not low owned. Pink designations indicate under-owned drivers that I believe are worth targeting in GPPs. The pink group includes Herbst, Yeley, Dillon, and McCleod – all of whom I consider “back markers” who could potentially pay off, but will need carnage to unfold during the race.

Cash Core

No need to get cute here in cash. Focus on guys starting in the back half of the field that you think can have a solid day with or without a big wreck. Let the field make the mistakes in cash.

GPP Core

I like KFB in GPP today. I think many will sleep on him due to recent results, but this team has been much better on the faster tracks this season. Busch and this #8 team was in position to win the 500 before a late race incident. He also has 3 Top 10’s on large Super Speedways in the Next Gen car, which includes a 3rd in this race last year.


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