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NASCAR Fantasy Picks for the 2024 GEICO 500

Quarter two for the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Talladega Superspeedway for the GEICO 500. Who should you play in NASCAR Fantasy?

The nearly 2.7 mile goliath in Lincoln, Alabama is notoriously known for its fast speeds, dangerous crashes, and dramatic finishes. Talladega will also host an event in the Round of 12 in early October.

NASCAR RaceDay will begin at 2:00pm ET (11:00am PT) with polesitter Michael McDowell leading the field to green shortly after 3:00pm ET (12:00pm PT). Television viewers can watch on FOX with radio coverage on both the Motor Racing Network and NASCAR’s SiriusXM Radio.

NASCAR Fantasy Live gives fans the chance to partake in driver selection each Cup Series race weekend. One will pick five starters and one “garage” driver per event. The garage driver will not receive any points but can replace a starter who may face trouble in the first part of the race. At the end of stage two, picks will lock, and no changes can be made. Points are awarded based on stage points and finishing positions in addition to four “head-to-head” driver picks. A driver may only be picked ten (10) times across the 26-race Regular Season and then five (5) times in the 10-race Playoffs. See NASCAR’s website here for rules of how to play.

My recommendations for Sunday are NOT my guaranteed personal lineup. See immediately below for my picks from last weekend’s Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 from Texas Motor Speedway. See my NASCAR Fantasy suggestions for the 2024 Cook Out 400.

RECAP – Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400

STARTERS

  • Tyler Reddick – 7 uses left
    • 33 Place Points (4th) + 7 Stage Points (S1 – 4th, S2 – N/A) = 40 Total Points
  • Bubba Wallace – 8 uses left
    • 30 Place Points (7th) + 10 Stage Points (S1 – 10th, S2 – 2nd) = 40 Total Points
  • William Byron – 5 uses left
    • 34 Place Points (3rd) + 2 Stage Points (S1 – 9th, S2 – N/A) = 36 Total Points
  • Kyle Larson – 6 uses left
    • 16 Place Points (21st) + 10 Stage Points (S1 – 1st, S2 – N/A) = 26 Total Points
  • Ryan Blaney – 6 uses left
    • 4 Place Points (33rd) + 13 Stage Points (S1 – 7th, S2 – 3rd) = 17 Total Points
  • Christopher Bell – KEPT IN GARAGE, 7 uses left
    • 20 Place Points (17th) + 9 Stage Points (S1 – 2nd, S2 – N/A) = 29 Total Points

FEATURED MATCHUPS

  • William Byron vs. Kyle Larson
    • PICK: Larson
    • RESULT: Incorrect (Byron = 3rd, Larson = 21st)
  • Daniel Suarez vs. Brad Keselowski
    • PICK: Suarez
    • RESULT: Incorrect (Suarez = 5th, Keselowski = 2nd)
  • Bubba Wallace vs. Tyler Reddick
    • PICK: Reddick
    • RESULT: Correct (Wallace = 7th, Reddick = 4th)
  • Ryan Blaney vs. Chase Elliott
    • PICK: Blaney
    • RESULT: Incorrect (Blaney = 33rd, Elliott = 1st)

RANKING

  • Weekly Points = 169 PTS.
  • Total Season Points = 1,793 PTS.
  • Collective Rankings = 4,369th (-363 POS. from Texas)

STARTERS

PICK 1 – Ryan Blaney

There are not many people who race at superspeedways like Ryan Blaney. His talents at Talladega are nearly unmatched having six Top 5s and eight Top 10s in his 16 career starts. Three of his ten victories have come at the track including last October’s thriller which propelled his shot and ultimate capturing of the 2023 Title. Blaney has also led more than double of any other driver in the Next Gen at Talladega. Bad luck is inevitable, but you cannot play optimistically.

PICK 2 – Chase Elliott

He is a two-time Next Gen Stage victor. He is the 2019 Spring and 2022 Fall victor. However, I found the best statistic that should guarantee Chase Elliott a spot in your NASCAR Fantasy lineup. In all eight stages at Talladega, No. 9 has earned stage points. More impressively, he has finished 6th or better in each of those eight opportunities. With his win last weekend at Texas, Elliott has nothing to lose. He will chase Playoff Points and a second consecutive winner’s trophy.

PICK 3 – Erik Jones

You cannot make a trip to Alabama without forgetting Erik Jones. His talents at drafting-style tracks are always praised by competitors, and it has shown both with and without the numbers. Jones is one of only five drivers to have paced first in all four Next Gen events. Jones tallied up a string of four straight Top 10s until a 26th last Fall. In his 14 NASCAR Cup Series starts at Talladega, Jones has a 50% rate of finishing inside the Top 10. I like those odds at a track so unpredictable.

PICK 4 – Michael McDowell

Michael McDowell is overdue for a little luck. His year has seen speed comparable to last season, but the finishing numbers have just not fallen his way. Fortunately, we head to a style that suits McDowell well, as he has four Top 10s to his name at Talladega including a pair of 3rd’s in 2021 (Spring) and 2022 (Fall). Winning the pole for Sunday was an added boost of confidence as McDowell will attempt to keep the Ford Dark House out front.

PICK 5 – Joey Logano

It just feels like a Joey Logano type of weekend for NASCAR Fantasy. The season was off to a rough start, but the Penske Racing driver has really started turning his year around. He enters this weekend with three straight finishes of 11th or better. Risky, it is, as he has finished outside the Top 20 in five of the last six trips. Fords, however, bring race-winning contention to all drafting tracks, and a three-time Talladega winner like Logano will be in the mix.

ALTERNATE OPTIONS

Chase Briscoe

  • Only one Talladega finish outside 14th place in six Cup Series events
  • Riding string of six consecutive Top 18 finishes and back-to-back Top 10s

Denny Hamlin

  • Has led laps in all four Next Gen races; already locked into Playoffs
  • Two-time track winner (2014 Spring, 2020 Fall)

Kyle Larson

  • 7 of 8 Talladega Next Gen stage appearances
  • Poor finishing record but three of last four races inside Top 20
  • UPDATE – Will have to serve pass-through penalty at start of race

Ryan Preece

  • Three of twelve career Top 10s at Talladega
  • Qualified 11th for Sunday’s event

HIDDEN GEM

Todd Gilliland

  • Led 16 laps in season opener at Daytona, 58 laps at Atlanta
  • Three straight finishes of 12th or better with two Top 10s

AVOID

Bubba Wallace

  • Although excellent at superspeedways, has only one Top 15 at Talladega (win in 2021 Fall)
  • Only two of eight stage appearances in Next Gen

Tyler Reddick

  • Two Top 10s in eight starts (both 7th place finishes)
  • Four straight finishes of 16th or worse

Ty Gibbs

  • DNFs in all three track starts without Top 10 stage finish

NASCAR FANTASY: FEATURED MATCHUPS

Chase Elliott vs. Ryan Blaney

For a second consecutive week, Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney square off in head-to-heads for NASCAR Fantasy. As discussed, there is hardly any leeway to sway one way or another between picking these two. Both have the victories and both show up as definite winning contenders each trip.

I flipped a coin for this and the pick went to Texas winner Elliott.

Corey LaJoie vs. Austin Dillon

Corey LaJoie always finds himself in the picture at superspeedways. In fact, all nine of his Cup Series Top 10s have come at drafting tracks including two at Talladega (Fall 2019, Fall 2023). Similar can be said for Austin Dillon who has won twice at Daytona International Speedway with twelve Top 15s in 21 Talladega starts.

Who survives? At the end of the day, I think LaJoie salvages a better finish.

Daniel Suarez vs. Erik Jones

A NASCAR Fantasy recommendation I did not recommend above was Daniel Suarez. He showed his abilities by winning the Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway earlier this year. Suarez has also finished three of the four Next Gen races at Talladega inside the Top 10. Unfortunately for him, his duel comes with one of the best superspeedway racers in recent years of Erik Jones.

It is a tight matchup, but because of his track record, I will give Jones the slight nod.

Noah Gragson vs. Ty Gibbs

Noah Gragson has surprised many fans with how he has ran so far at Stewart-Haas Racing. Although he only has two Top 10s in 41 starts, two of them came at Daytona including this year’s 500. His overall execution at superspeedways is fair while Ty Gibbs look to improve upon this category. Those three DNFs, as mentioned, worry me when it comes to pairings that only matter where you finish.

Anything can happen, but my selection is Gragson.

What is your NASCAR Fantasy lineup for Sunday’s GEICO 500 from Talladega Superspeedway? Tweet us @LWOSMotorsport. Stay tuned here at LWOS Motorsports for NASCAR news, results, updates, and more.

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