The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs are in full swing, and and some fantasy owners are along for the ride.
Drivers are set to compete in Sunday’s Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, as the quest for the Cup championship marches on. Playoff leader Martin Truex is fresh off a win at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and has been the premier fantasy play in NASCAR this year.
But this is Talladega, and restrictor-plate races are especially difficult to predict.
Whether you need help picking an A-List driver who has a shot at winning or an up-and-coming C-List racer who could help steal you some points, we’ve got you covered for the first round of your NASCAR fantasy playoffs. Here are the drivers you should give seats to, and the ones you shouldn’t, for Sunday’s race at in Alabama:
Must pick: Brad Keselowski
Simply put, Keselowski is one of the best plate-race drivers in the sport.
The Team Penske driver hasn’t as much success this season as the No. 2 team would like, but he did finish seventh at Talladega earlier this season. Ultimately, though, it’s Keselowski’s history in these types of races that gives us confidence to put him in our lineups. He has five wins in plate races, including four at Talladega. Furthermore, in 17 races at the 2.6-mile oval, Keselowski has 10 top-10 finishes.
Stay away: Matt Kenseth
Plate races really aren’t Kenseth’s cup of tea.
In his last 10 plate races, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver has an average finish of 25.8. Yikes. Plus, in those 10 races, he’s only finished inside the top 20 once. Keep him on your bench.
Sleeper Pick: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
We have Stenhouse listed as a sleeper pick. But really, we think he should be considered a must-start.
The Roush Fenway Racing driver picked up his first cup victory earlier this at Talladega. And in the next plate race, the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, he again parked the No. 17 in victory lane. Non one’s going to argue with you if you start Kyle Larson or Chase Elliott as your B-List driver, but we think Stenhouse could have the best day of the three.
Value pick: Ty Dillon
Neither Erik Jones nor Daniel Suarez have looked particularly impressive in plate races during their rookie campaigns.
And as far as C-List drivers are concerned, that leaves us with with fellow rookie Ty Dillon.
In four plate races, the Germain Racing driver has two finishes of 16th or better, and two of 25th or worse. Personally, we think he has a chance to trend toward the former. Give Dillon a shot this weekend, and get back to Jones or Suarez for Kansas Speedway.
Thumbnail photo via Jim Dedmon/USA TODAY Sports Images
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