Dan Beaver

Statistically Speaking

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Update: Talladega (Fall)

Saturday, October 14, 2017


It’s that time again: Get out your lucky coin and start flipping. Very little is predictive about the restrictor plate superspeedways and yet, choices need to be made at Talladega SuperSpeedway. Lineups don’t set themselves.

While it can be incredibly difficult to predict the finishing order of a plate race, setting fantasy rosters can be a little different because there are different criteria for success. For example, most games provide some sort of bonus for leading laps, place differential points, and other strength-based categories.

Two of those categories can be at cross purposes. It is impossible to earn place differential points after starting on the pole and that often makes the pole sitter on a plate track into a bad bargain.

This week, however, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will lead the field to green and while he is no longer considered the Pied Piper of plate tracks—to the degree he once was—he still commands enough respect that the rest of the field often falls in line to follow him around the track. Look for the No. 88 car to dominate the first segment and earn enough laps led points to offset any negative.

Junior is joined on the front row this week by Chase Elliott. The No. 24 team has a great plate qualification program as evidenced by multiple poles at Daytona International Speedway. Single lap speed has not been an issue for the driver of the 24, however; his Achilles Heel is often an inability to avoid bad luck. This week, Elliott should try to be cautious to protect points—but that is A) not possible on a plate track and B) not in the nature of a Young Gun.

Two of the pre-weekend favorites qualified well. Starting position is not particularly indicative of how a driver is going to run in race trim since the draft is the big equalizer, but with a third-place starting position for Joey Logano and a fifth for Ricky Stenhouse Jr., the two sleepers confirm our earlier conviction that they will be good values. As with all the competition, however, they have to stay out of trouble. Both Logano and Stenhouse have visited Victory Lane in recent years.

Danica Patrick has occasionally had strong record on plate tracks. This is one of her last great chances to make an impression that could mean the difference between her racing in NASCAR in 2018 or doing something different. She barely missed advancing to the top 12 as the last driver to get eliminated. She is in a sweet spot where she could avoid trouble and score a top-10 that would make her a great value.

The other side of the equation on plate tracks is to look deep in the field for drivers likely to avoid the Big One crash and achieve a top 15 at the end of the race. Two drivers come immediately to mind: Brendan Gaughan and David Ragan. Both are inexpensive in cap games and likely to be underserved in Pick ‘Em or Hold ‘Em games. Gaughan starts 35th and is almost guaranteed to earn place differential points. Ragan starts 33rd.



Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 12 years with a little help from his >500,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.
Email :Dan Beaver



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