Talladega Confidence Rankings / Post Qualifying Predictions
On Sunday, buckle up and get out your good luck charm, because NASCAR will be racing at Talladega for race #2 of the “Round of 12”! Talladega is NASCAR’s biggest, wildest and most treacherous track on the circuit. Drivers can get wrecked while leading just as easily as they can be running near the back. 6 of the last 7 Talladega races have had a last lap pass for the win, so you can’t count out anyone until the end.
All of that said, educated decisions can be made and strategies do exist (AKA… build DFS lineups heavy on place differential) to help you navigate this treacherous track.
No practices were held for Talladega. Here’s the Talladega Starting Lineup.
Talladega Full Field Rankings
1) Brad Keselowski
Start 5th / Projected Finish Range 1-6 / Dominator Potential – Medium-High
Talladega Outlook – Brad Keselowski is the premiere performer at Talladega and on Sunday, the road to victory lane might very well go thru him. Keselowski’s a 6-time Talladega winner and in 2023 at big superspeedways, the #6 has been elite. Keselowski was a standout performer in the Daytona 500 (crashed) and then in the two other races he’s come home with results of 2nd (Daytona #2) and 5th (Talladega). When you include Atlanta into the superspeedway mix minus the Daytona 500, Keselowski has a 3.8 average finish for the season. Another attribute you have to love about Keselowski is his recent form. Since Atlanta #2 at “Ovals Only”, Keselowski has a 5.9 average finish and he’s 9 for 9 at finishing in the top ten.
Talladega Track Record Breakdown – At Talladega, Brad Keselowski is a six-time winner and in 4 of the last 5 races, he’s been a top five contender. This spring, Keselowski drove up to the front when it was closing time and finished 5th. Last fall, Keselowski was likely poised to walk away with a great result but during the final green flag pit cycle, he was caught speeding on pit road while running in 2nd, which led to his 24th. Last spring, Keselowski got two speeding penalties and you can’t overcome that, and he went on to finish 23rd. In 2021, Keselowski was the class of the field having finished 2nd in the fall and racing his way to victory lane in the spring.
DraftKings $10,500 / FanDuel $13,500 / DK Odds To Win +850 (Saturday Noon)
2) Chris Buescher
Start 24th / Projected Finish Range 1-6 / Dominator Potential – Medium-High
Talladega Outlook – At Talladega, Chris Buescher will have a fast Ford and he’ll be tough to beat. Buscher’s one of the best in the draft and in 2023 at big superspeedways, nobody’s been better. Buescher won at Daytona#2 and over the combined races, Buescher has a 2.7 average finish and he’s 3 for 3 at finishing in the top 4.
Talladega Track Record Breakdown – At Talladega, Chris Buescher has been strong and in 4 of the last 7 races he’s “crossed the finish line” in the top 6. This spring, Buescher came from mid-pack in the closing laps and finished 3rd. Last fall, Buescher finished 8th in Stage #2 but then 25th when the checkered flag waved. With 30 to go he was in 7th, but then following the final pit cycle he was back in 26th and he just never moved forward after that. In spring 2022, Buescher finished 38th after crashing in Stage #1. In fall 2021, Buescher won Stage #1, led 7 laps and then finished 6th. In spring 2021, Buescher finished 6th in Stage #1, 7th in Stage #2 and was running in 6th with 5 laps to go until the scheduled distance. On the last lap while running in the top ten, Buescher wrecked which led to his 21st. In fall 2020, Buescher won Stage #1, finished 3rd in Stage #2 and led 15 laps. On the final lap he was battling for a top five, but then he bounced off a few cars and NASCAR penalized him for forcing Elliott below the yellow line which led to his 22nd place finish. Technically speaking, Buescher crossed the finish line in 6th. In spring 2020, Buescher finished 6th.
DraftKings $10,000 / FanDuel $13,000 / DK Odds To Win +1300
3) Denny Hamlin
Start 12th / Projected Finish Range 1-6 / Dominator Potential – Medium-High
Talladega Outlook – Denny Hamlin is “Mr. October” at Talladega and on Sunday, put Hamlin on your short list of favorites. Hamlin’s one of the premiere superspeedway performers and you also have to love how well the #11 team is running right now. At Talladega, Hamlin’s a two-time winner and in 5 of the last 8 races he’s finished in the top 7. Over those combined races minus spring 2021 where he led 43 laps and subjectively had the best car, Hamlin has a 7.6 average finish.
Talladega Track Record Breakdown – At Talladega, Denny Hamlin has performed at a high-level, but he’s been especially strong in fall races. Over the last seven fall Talladega races, Hamlin’s 7 for 7 at finishing in the top ten and his average finish is a series best 4.1. This spring, Hamlin was a top ten contender but finished an asterisk mark 17th. In the race, Hamlin finished 8th in Stage #2, led 7 laps, had a 10.9 average running position and was running in 5th with 10 laps to go. Late in the race, Hamlin had to come in for gas during an over-time caution. Last fall, Hamlin led 20 laps, finished 2nd in Stage #1 and then finished 5th when the checkered flag waved. In spring 2022, Hamlin was strong in the final quarter of the race. He was the leader with 20 to go (led 9 laps) but then with 4 laps to go while running in 8th, Hamlin had some apparent fuel situation and slowed on the track which led to his 18th. “Performance wise”, I have no doubt he likely had one of the best cars. In 2021, Hamlin finished 7th in the fall and then in the spring he finished 32nd but take note I think he subjectively had the best car in the race (led 43 laps but got two speeding penalties and crashed). In the three races prior to that, Hamlin had results of 1st, 4th and 3rd.
DraftKings $9,800 / FanDuel $12,000 / DK Odds To Win +1200