Dan Beaver

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Fantasy Live: 1000Bulbs 500

Wednesday, October 10, 2018


The restrictor-plate superspeedways are the ultimate wild card races. There are the same intangibles that affect every race: mechanical failure, driver error, and mistakes in the pits. But the massive drafting packs radically change the outlook. A slight bobble by any driver – veteran, rookie, or low budgeteer – can wipe out half the field. A cut tire or broken ball joint can take out half the remaining cars.

It doesn’t matter if the driver is Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, or Martin Truex Jr.; if its Brendan Gaughan, JJ Yeley, or DJ Kennington. Everyone is at equal risk. For that reason, set your 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway roster by the numbers and hope for the best. It’s not great advice, but it’s the best you’re going to get.

Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, and Clint Bowyer are the only four drivers who have finished in the top 10 in 50 percent of the last 18 plate races.

Playoff Drivers

Team Penske
Take your pick of Team Penske drivers Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. They have combined to win six of the last eight Talladega races beginning with a must-win for Kez in the 2014 playoffs. Since then, he has won in spring 2016 and fall 2017. Logano has the other three victories in fall 2015, fall 2016, and this spring. It is rare that both of them run well in the same race, however. In 17 races during the past nine seasons, they have swept the top 10 only three times. One of these came last fall.

Kurt Busch
Streaks are incredibly difficult to build and maintain on plate tracks. If one driver can do it, however, the king of consistency is going to excel. Kurt Busch has finished 12th or better in seven of his last eight races at Talladega. He finished in the runner-up spot to Logano in this spring’s Geico 500 and was fourth in the fall 2016 Hellmann's 500, His recent luck at Daytona International Speedway has not been as good with three straight results outside the top 25, but it’s possible that will make your competition overlook him.

Garage Pick: Chase Elliott
Chase Elliott is one of the few drivers with nothing to lose this week. With his victory last week at Dover International Speedway, he is locked into Round 3 of the playoffs. That is good news because he can be star-crossed on plate tracks. Most of the incidents that have claimed him came while he was running with the leaders and when he’s survived, he’s earned top-fives at ‘Dega in spring 2016 and again this year.

Harvick and Kyle Busch have a sizeable enough lead in the points that they can also go for broke, but their luck has been bad on plate tracks in the past two seasons. Busch and Harvick each have only one top-10 in their last seven attempts on this plate track.

Red Flag: Ryan Blaney
For all the success that the Wood Brothers and Team Penske have had on plate tracks, very little of it has trickled down to Ryan Blaney. In 15 starts at Daytona and Talladega combined, he has only four top-10s. One of these – a seventh – came in this year’s Daytona 500 after he was involved in two accidents. While he survived that one, he has not been nearly as lucky on other occasions and has a current streak of seven plate races in which he’s suffered damage. Blaney failed to finish four of those races.



Non-Playoff Drivers

Ryan Newman
Like Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman has accumulated a solid streak of top-10s. His did not come at Talladega only, but rather on the two plate tracks combined. Since finishing fifth last summer in the Coke Zero 400, he has swept the top 10 in five plate races. He was second in last year’s edition of the 1000Bulbs.com 500. In 2018, he scored two eighth-place finishes at Daytona and a ninth at Talladega, but it is worth starting him if one believes he can keep that streak alive.

David Ragan
David Ragan is another solid dark horse pick this week. In 2017, he got off to a bad start in the Daytona 500. Ragan finished 25th that week but went on to sweep the top 10 in the next three plate races. This year, he finished 30th at Daytona. He finished sixth at Talladega and could only muster a 15th at Daytona in the summer, but this remains one of his best chances to shine and sweep the top 15.

Garage Pick: Bubba Wallace
Bubba Wallace has suffered through some bad luck and poor performances since the summer. He lost brakes at Pocono Raceway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He crashed at Charlotte Motor Speedway several times during the Roval weekend. In fact, he has retired with crash damage five times in the last 10 races. For some reason, he’s been incredibly strong on plate tracks. His runner-up finish this spring at Daytona is the highlight, but he has never finished worse than 16th on a plate track.

Red Flag: Low-budgeteers
Be careful about going too low in the roster. Drivers like Brendan Gaughan, DJ Kennington, and Jeffrey Earnhardt have a chance to shine this week. Often that comes via attrition when they are trailing the field by a safe margin. If they push hard and drive into the lead-pack hornet’s nest, they are just as likely to get swept into the 'Big One'.



Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 12 years with a little help from his >500,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.
Email :Dan Beaver



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