Race Weekend Central

Daily Fantasy NASCAR DraftKings Forecast: 2023 YellaWood 500 at Talladega

It’s the final superspeedway race of the season at the largest oval on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit. Let’s see which drivers are good daily fantasy options on DraftKings for the YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, airing Sunday, Oct. 1 at 2 p.m. ET on NBC.

Anything can happen at the 2.66-mile oval; the race could be relatively calm, as it was last year where there were two long green-flag runs. Or, it could have chaos, like what happened this spring – there were four multi-car crashes in the final 60 laps.

So, how do you prepare your DraftKings lineups for a track with such an unpredictable nature? Well, for starters, you can look at past Talladega and Daytona International Speedway races to see who tends to finish up front. Also, see which value drivers avoid the mayhem most of the time and gain several spots on the track.

Additionally, take a look at the last four events at Atlanta Motor Speedway, as those were run under the new configuration in which cars run more in a pack and at higher speeds.

There’s no practice this week; qualifying will kick off at 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Sept. 30 and air on USA Network.

See also
Dropping the Hammer: Ryan Blaney Looks for Rebound at Reliable Talladega

Before I move on to my picks for Talladega, let’s see last week’s DraftKings scores from Texas Motor Speedway:

DraftKings SalaryDriverDraftKings Score
$10,800William Byron66.2
$10,200Tyler Reddick23.2
$8,900Brad Keselowski33.45
$7,700Alex Bowman33.7
$6,600AJ Allmendinger-9.75
$5,900Justin Haley46.35

William Byron won, earning a high fantasy score. Justin Haley, who had a low salary last week, was a great value play after he gained 15 spots on the track. Unfortunately, his Kaulig Racing teammate AJ Allmendinger was caught up in a crash on a restart; as a result, he produced a negative score.

The highest score in the $15,000 Happy Hour tournament was 354.35 and had Byron, Chase Elliott, Bubba Wallace, Kevin Harvick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Chase Briscoe.

Here’s a quick look at the rules for DraftKings:

The winner on the racetrack tallies 45 points, while second place gets 42, third 41 and so on. Tenth scores 34, while 11th gets 32 and it decreases by one from there through 20th. This pattern repeats from 21st through 30th and again from 31st through 40th.

Additionally, drivers can earn or lose a point depending on where they started the race. For example, if Kyle Larson started seventh and won, he would gain six points in addition to his finishing position points, totaling 51 fantasy points.

Drivers also can earn 0.45 points for each fastest lap and 0.25 for each lap they lead.

NASCAR DraftKings Scoring Breakdown

Here are the drivers you should consider for Talladega:

DraftKings Picks: Top Tier

Ryan Blaney ($10,200)
Career at Talladega: 18 starts, 2 wins, 5 top fives, 7 top 10s
Average finish at Talladega: 15.2

Ryan Blaney is one of the first drivers that people will likely place in their lineup, and for good reason. He has back-to-back seconds at ‘Dega in the last two events, while in spring 2022 he gained 11 spots to finish 11th. Plus, he won both the fall 2019 and June 2020 races. And in the last three races there, he’s led 23 or more laps, showing that he knows how to be at the helm.

The No. 12 Team Penske driver also has had some good results at Daytona. Blaney won the 2021 summer event and placed fourth and eighth in the 2022 and 2023 Daytona 500s, respectively. 

And though it’s much smaller than Talladega, Blaney earned a pair of top-10 finishes at Atlanta this year. If he can stay out of trouble, he’ll be sure to do well once again this weekend.

Chase Elliott ($9,300)
Career at Talladega: 15 starts, 2 wins, 5 top fives, 7 top 10s
Average finish at Talladega: 14.1

Elliott is a good pivot on DraftKings with a lower salary than some of the other top drivers. He advanced from 29th to 12th in the spring Talladega race and won this event last fall after starting 16th. Also, he gained 21 positions in the spring 2022 race en route to seventh. And in fall 2020, he placed fifth. His first win there came in 2019 after he led 45 laps.

Elliott missed the spring Atlanta race earlier this year, but he finished 13th after starting 23rd in July. Plus last season the No. 9 finished sixth and first in the spring and fall races, respectively.

Meanwhile, at Daytona, Elliott gained 19 spots in the regular-season finale, coming home fourth. He crashed out of the two races before that, but he did wound up 10th in last year’s Daytona 500. Though Elliott’s not in the playoffs, he is vying for an owners’ title this year.

Middle Tier

Kyle Busch ($8,700)
Career at Talladega: 36 starts, 2 wins, 8 top fives, 10 top 10s
Average finish at Talladega: 19.9

Kyle Busch feels awfully inexpensive for how well he’s done lately at superspeedways (or Atlanta). He drove from 18th to seventh at Daytona and was 19th in the season opener after qualifying 36th. Also, at Atlanta, Busch placed 10th and fifth in the spring and summer events, respectively.

Oh, did I mention he’s Talladega’s most recent winner? That’s right, after starting 17th, Busch was able to bring home the victory. It actually shouldn’t be much of a surprise, as he finished third there last spring and was 10th in the spring 2019 event.

Could Busch go back-to-back this year at ‘Dega? If you think he will or come close, put him in your lineup.

Erik Jones ($7,800)
Career at Talladega: 13 starts, 0 wins, 2 top fives, 7 top 10s
Average finish at Talladega: 17.7

Erik Jones’ had some really good results on this track type. This spring at Talladega, he earned his third straight sixth place there after starting 24th. And in fall of ‘21, he advanced from 26th to ninth.

At Daytona, Jones hasn’t had as much luck in recent years, though he did gain six positions ton finish 18th in the regular-season finale. He also gained 10 spots to finish 11th there in summer 2021. And at Atlanta, he drove from 28th to eighth in the spring, 25th to 11th in the summer and 25th to fourth last July.

Jones isn’t too pricey on DraftKings and should do well once again this weekend if he keeps his nose clean.

See also
Fire on Fridays: Is Spire Taking Over the World?

Low Tier

Todd Gilliland ($5,800)
Career at Talladega: 3 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 2 top 10s
Average finish at Talladega: 14.7

In the last two races at ‘Dega, Todd Gilliland has earned top-10 finishes. He drove from 34th to seventh last fall and 28th to 10th there this spring. Unfortunately, his finishes at Daytona haven’t been as good the last couple of years. He’s finished 23rd or worse at the Florida track.

However, at Atlanta, Gilliland has had results in the teens. Earlier this spring he gained eight spots to finish 15th. Last year, he placed 17th and 15 in the spring and summer races, respectively. He’s a nice value play on DraftKings that you could pair with Front Row Motorsports teammate Michael McDowell.

Ty Dillon ($5,000)
Career at Talladega: 11 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 2 top 10s
Average finish at Talladega: 15.1

Ty Dillon? Really?” Well, yes, but hear me out. If this race goes extremely chaotic, and he’s around at the end, he’ll likely score high on Draftkings. I mean, he finished 14th at Talladega in April after he began 32nd. And in the fall 2020 race, he finished third after starting 28th, albeit for Germain Racing. That result was after several of 17th or better between 2017 and 2020.

Dillon also finished right behind his Spire Motorsports teammate, Corey LaJoie, at Daytona. LaJoie was 10th and Dillon was 11th; both started in the 30s. Also, in last year’s Daytona 500, Dillon advanced from 26th to 11th. 

Dillon is basically a punt play on DraftKings, but could help you boost your fantasy score if he earns another good finish.

About the author

Joy joined Frontstretch in 2019 as a NASCAR DraftKings writer, expanding to news and iRacing coverage in 2020. She's currently an assistant editor and involved with photos, social media and news editing. A California native, Joy was raised as a motorsports fan and started watching NASCAR extensively in 2001. She earned her B.A. degree in Liberal Studies at California State University Bakersfield in 2010.

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