Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR
Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR

The final restrictor plate race of the season is Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, and while it will definitely have major Sprint Cup championship implications, it can also decide Fantasy NASCAR league champions. After Talladega, it’s going to be a lot more of “follow the leader” unless some teams in your league decide to throw up a hail mary and hope for the best. So while it is difficult to handicap these plate races, this final Talladega race usually ends up being the most predictable, as a lot of drivers will be more conservative than normal on Sunday (at least until the end). In case you’re interested, the practice speeds of the weekend can be found here: Practice #1Happy Hour. Additionally, our notes for each are here: Practice #1Happy Hour. Martin Truex, Jr. won the pole for this weekend’s Hellmann’s 500 and the full starting lineup can be found here.

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Final Top 25 Ranking For Talladega 2

1. Brad Keselowski – Starts 2nd – DraftKings Price: $10,300 – Yahoo! A Group

Brad Keselowski has established himself as one of (if not the) best restrictor plate driver in the garage, and that’s especially true this weekend since Dale Earnhardt, Jr. isn’t racing. From a win perspective, Talladega has been his best track on the circuit for Keselowski, as he has amassed four victories here in just fifteen career starts (26.7%), including a trip to victory lane when we last raced here in May. As far as the Chase goes, this #2 team is on the outside looking in heading into Sunday’s elimination event, although it’s not a must-win for Keselowski like it was back in 2014 (he won that race, by the way). With Earnhardt not racing this weekend, Brad should be the most-picked driver in Fantasy NASCAR, so now it’s up to you whether or not you want to run with the crowd or try and fade him. If he doesn’t get into trouble on Sunday, however, it’s hard to imagine Keselowski not challenging for the win again. He has three top 5s in the last four races here at Talladega.

2. Martin Truex, Jr. – Starts 1st – DraftKings Price: $9,700 – Yahoo! B Group

A wreck on Sunday could see championship favorite Martin Truex, Jr. with an early exit from this year’s playoffs, but I don’t see that happening. This #78 Toyota has been the fastest car in the garage this season, and that doesn’t exclude the plate tracks. Don’t forget that Truex almost won this year’s Daytona 500. As far as Talladega goes, Martin finished 13th when we last raced here back in May and has now wound up inside that mark in five of the last seven events at this track–four of which were also top 10s. On the three plate races this season, Truex has an average driver rating of 91.6, which is 5th-best among all drivers. I think the #78 Toyota will run with the front pack for most of the day on Sunday, but I could definitely see Truex backing off late in the race and just getting the points necessary to advance in the Chase. If that happens, he’s probably not going to be the best Fantasy NASCAR option this weekend, but it’s not guaranteed that that’s how this race will play out for the #78 team. For what it’s worth, the last two pole winners at Talladega have finished 5th and 3rd.

3. Kyle Busch – Starts 14th – DraftKings Price: $10,100 – Yahoo! A Group

Typically, the safest Fantasy NASCAR strategy with the restrictor plate tracks is to run with the hot hand–in other words, go with the drivers that have both performed well in the past, and have ran well during the season on these big superspeedways. And nobody has been better at Daytona and Talladega in 2016 than Kyle Busch. He hasn’t gone to victory lane in the first three plate races this season, but Rowdy has an average finish of 2.3 over those three events and an average driver rating of 110.5 (second only to Brad Keselowski’s 112.9). Busch does have one victory here at Talladega (back in 2008) and has ended up 12th or better in six of the last eight events at this track. There is a little concern for fantasy owners that the #18 team could race Sunday’s Hellmann’s 500 super conservatively, but I’m not too worried about that. This is still Kyle Busch we’re talking about, and don’t forget he was “points racing” at Dover earlier this month and almost won the race.

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