Chase Elliott is on the pole for Sunday’s 1000Bulbs.com 500 (2 p.m. ET, NBC/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Is he worthy of a spot on your roster? How should you navigate the playoff game format? We‘ve dissected the numbers to offer a suggested lineup worthy of your Fantasy Live consideration.
UPDATE: Race will resume in Stage 2 on Monday at 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
RJ Kraft‘s Fantasy Live lineup for race day at Talladega:
Playoff driver 1: Chase Elliott
Playoff driver 2: Alex Bowman
Non-playoff driver 1: Aric Almirola
Non-playoff driver 2: Ryan Newman
Garage: Joey Logano
Analysis: Superspeedway racing is unpredictable, but here are some things I feel good about. Elliott is on the pole, needs a great points day after his Dover disappointment and won here in the spring. Logano has four straight top-five finishes and three wins at this track. Almirola has six straight top 10s and is the defending race winner. All three of those drivers are in my lineup.
I expect Bowman to be aggressive on stage points — much like he was in the spring when he earned 18 stage points in that race en route to a second-place finish. It’s hard for me to leave five-time Talladega winner Brad Keselowski out of my lineup, but I like the Hendrick blockade up front to make an impact.
For the final non-playoff driver spot, I am taking Newman. I realize I’m likely sacrificing stage points with this play, but I trust in his ability to be there at the end as evidenced by his three top 10s in the past four races at the 2.66-mile superspeedway. I gave some thought to his current Roush Fenway Racing teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr., but decided to be a little more conservative with this play.
On the bonus picks side, I will take Elliott to win Stage 1, Blaney to win Stage 2 and Keselowski to win the race — as slight protection for not playing him, with Ford as the manufacturer pick.
Each week in this space, we‘ll also highlight two Props Challenge items for players.
1. O/U 2.5 drivers lead at least 20 laps. In the past five races at Talladega, at least three drivers have led at least 20 laps, and I see that trend continuing. The line would be tougher if it were 25 or 30 laps, but at 20 laps, this feels like a layup on the OVER.
2. O/U 5.5 playoff drivers finish in the top 10. In the elimination playoff era (2014-today), only one time have at least six playoff drivers finished in the top 10 at the Talladega playoff race (seven did this in the 2015 race). The average of playoff drivers finishing in the top 10 at the Talladega playoff race is 4.25. I think 2015 was more of an outlier and solid superspeedway racers like Kurt Busch, Almirola and Newman are no longer part of the playoff picture, so I will go with the UNDER here.