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The second round of the NASCAR playoffs started last week at Charlotte, but the results were the same.   It was another win for dominant driver Martin Truex Jr., who punched his ticket to the 3rd round of the playoffs(out of four).  Only eight drivers make it to the next round, with only two races left in the 2nd round – Talledega and Kansas.

This week’s playoff race travels to the volatile and exciting 2.5 mile high banking oval called the Talledega Superspeedway in the Alabama 500 race.  Any lap could contain the “Big One” which could take out a large percentage of the field, which makes it a challenge for all DFS players.   In the Talledega Spring race, several big name drivers such as Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick, Erik Jones, Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth were caught up the “Big One” crash that destroyed many DFS lineups.

My DFS Approach This Weekend:   No Cash Games, Only GPP’s

With the volatility of sudden(and multiple) crashes at Talledega, it is difficult constructing “safe” lineups for Cash games.  I don’t consider any cash lineups safe at restrictor-plate races such as Talledega and Daytona.  So, I prefer to only field GPP lineups for these races.   For example, if my bankroll for this weekend was $20, usually split 80/20(Cash/GPP), then I would completely use the $20 for only GPP tournaments due to the randomness of crashes and constant lead changes.

I will break down the two simple DFS NASCAR steps for this race.

Step 1:   Pick one or two of these drivers for your lineup.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($8,000):   Stenhouse Jr. won this very first Monster Energy Cup race at the spring Talledega race to punch his playoff ticket.    He also has an impressive average finish of 11.40 over his last five races at Talledega.    He will be the chalkiest driver this weekend.   And lastly, he grew up in nearby Mississippi, and considers Talledega his home track.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Talledega

Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($9,200):  If there is any race that you should feel confident and safe to choose Dale Earnhardt Jr., then this is the race.   Dale Jr. has won at this racetrack a total of six times with the latest coming in May of 2015.   This will be an emotional race for Dale Jr., with this being his last at his favorite track.

Brad Keselowski($9,800):   Keselowski is another driver with multiple wins at this track with four total Talledega wins.  His last win came in October of 2014.    His average finishing position in the past five races is 14.40.  He is always a contender at this track and is expected to finish in the Top 5.

Kurt Busch($8,300):   In the past five races at Talledega, Kurt Busch has an average finish of 8.00, which is tops among active drivers.    He is a great price at $8,300.    He won this year’s most prestigious race, the restrictor plated Daytona 500 to start out the year.

Kurt Busch Daytona 500 winner

Step 2:   Pick the Rest of Your Lineup from Drivers “in the back.”

First let’s discuss the most important DFS category for this race:  Place Differential.

Place Differential is the difference between the Drivers Starting Position and his/her Finishing Position.  (Place Differential = Starting – Finishing).   A positive place differential is when a driver finishes higher than where he/she started, and a negative place differential is when a driver finishes worse than his/her starting position.  In NASCAR DFS for DraftKings, Place Differential will be an important category to focus on for this race.

Specifically for Talledega, the best strategy is to “Pick the Drivers in the back”.   By “Back”, I mean pick the drivers in starting positions 25 to 40.   Cars in the middle of the pack from 11-24 are at major risk at getting caught up in the Big One.   Drivers out front in the clean air can avoid the crashes, but with the Restrictor plates, drivers can rarely pull way ahead of the pack, so drivers in the back have a legitimate shot to work their way to the front.

For example, from the Spring Race at Talledega, winning lineups would have contained following drivers; Jamie McMurray who started 23rd and finished 2nd, David Ragan who started 29th and finished 10th, and Jimmie Johnson who started 30th and finished 8th.

The qualifying round to determine starting position at Talledega starts at 4:15 PM EST on Saturday, October 14th.  So, by 5:30 PM, starting positions will be set for you to build your lineups.

In summary, pick one to two drivers in Step 1, then complete the rest of your lineup with drivers qualifying in the 25th to 40th range as described in Step 2.   Create several GPP lineups this way and enter them into a single GPP contest.   Good Luck!

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