The last race that has a legitimate chance to significantly shake up your Fantasy NASCAR league is this weekend, as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is at Talladega Superspeedway for the Alabama 500 on Sunday. So far this year, Fords have won all three restrictor plate races, as Kurt Busch won the season-opening Daytona 500 and then Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. took home the checkered flag in the first Talladega race and at the second stop at Daytona. At tracks like this, practice doesn’t mean a whole lot, and neither does starting position either. And, honestly, neither does history. Still, those are all numbers that we can analyze.
There were two practice sessions here on Friday and then qualifying on Saturday. This is an impound race and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will lead the field to the green on Sunday with teammate Chase Elliott alongside. The full starting lineup can be found by clicking here. The practice speeds from Friday’s two sessions can be found here: Practice #1 — Happy Hour, and, as always, our in-depth practice notes can be found here: Practice #1 — Happy Hour.
Final Top 25 Ranking For The 2017 Alabama 500
1. Chase Elliott – Starts 2nd – DraftKings Price: $9,000 – Yahoo! B Group
Chase Elliott has typically been a decently solid choice at restrictor plate tracks throughout his young career, but a big part of that is because he inherited a great qualifying package for these superspeedways and typically starts up front. For example, here at Talladega, Chase has never started worse than 8th, and at Daytona he has three front row qualifying efforts in four attempts. The problem with Elliott is that he’s hit or miss when it comes to finishing the race. He has zero top 10s at Daytona, but here at ‘Dega he has posted finish of 5th, 12th, and 30th thus far. The good news is that this #24 team is running very well right now, and Elliott has the 2nd-best average running position (12.3) on the plate tracks this year. Don’t be surprised if the #24 Chevrolet comes home solidly inside the top 10 this weekend.
2. Brad Keselowski – Starts 6th – DraftKings Price: $9,800 – Yahoo! A Group
Brad Keselowski is an elite restrictor plate racer, although he’s much better here at Talladega than he is at Daytona. Thus far through his relatively young career, Bad Brad has posted four wins here at ‘Dega, which is impressive considering the series leaders in that category are Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jeff Gordon, both with six a piece. Even more impressive? Keselowski has got those wins over just 17 career starts here, while Junior and Gordon have made 34 and 46 starts, respectively. This year, Keselowski has an average finish of 21.7 at plate tracks, but he has actually probably been the best car overall. Brad’s average driver rating of 97.9 over those three races is the best in the series, and his average of 22.7 laps led per race is best, too. His average running position (12.7) is 3rd-best behind Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott. Overall, Keselowski is a great fantasy pick this weekend and should be a contender on Sunday.
3. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. – Starts 5th – DraftKings Price: $8,000 – Yahoo! B Group
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. has always been one of my favorite picks in Fantasy NASCAR whenever we stopped at a restrictor plate track, and this season he has really shown his value: after finishing a disappointing 31st in the season-opening Daytona 500, Ricky went to victory lane here at Talladega back in May and then followed that up with another win at Daytona in July. Now the question is, can he get three wins in a row on plate tracks–and tie Dale Earnhardt’s record in the process? The Fords have an advantage over the rest of the field here at Talladega and at Daytona, and Stenhouse is great at maneuvering through traffic. There’s no reason to think he won’t contend again.