The Checkered Flag – Yellawood 500 at Talladega Motor Speedway


Welcome back Playmakers! This can be a tricky race to figure out. There’s so much at stake and very little room for error at such consistent high speeds. Usually the smart play is to load up on drivers who start in or near the back. That still holds true, but this race tends to be rather vanilla. With so much on the line most of the time drivers are cautious and don’t want to be the guy who ruins another driver’s playoffs and chance at a championship. Because of this I expect the first two stages to be pretty low drama and rather uneventful, for Talladega anyway, anything goes in stage 3 though. I don’t think that many cars will be knocked out of the race when we get to the 3rd stage. And I fear some of these drivers who start near the back of the field won’t have as many place diff points to gain as they would in other similar races. Dominator plays take a back seat to place diff here. But be careful with stacking all guys from way in the back. I do expect a large wreck that takes out numerous cars in stage 3. But if there is not a huge wreck or it’s smaller and doesn’t take out that many drivers they may not finish as high this week as they would have at the prior trips to talladega or daytona this season. Build cautiously. This race is impossible to predict. 


Denny Hamlin | 1st | 10,500DK | 14,000FD |

With Dominator not having the same value this week as it does most races, it’s not really worth targeting guys who can lead laps. Multiple guys should. If there is one guy you can probably count on to lead laps it’s Hamlin. He’s one of the best at this track type and seems to be up front at some point any time they are at a super speedway. This play does come with some risk though. Hamlin is already clinched into the next round of the playoffs with his win last week. So wrecking out here doesn’t hurt him nearly as much as anyone else still fighting to get into that next round. It would kill your line however. If you break it down Denny has 3 reasons to race here. First, winning a stage or two gets him a bonus point that transfers over to next round. These are priceless. Second, there’s always the chance at a win. Any win is an accomplishment. Lastly, there’s Bubba Wallace. Denny and MJ own Bubba’s car. This track type suits Bubba perfectly and he is usually a contender. He hasn’t been able to break through, but if there’s any race that makes sense, it’s here. You could make the argument that helping Bubba get the win here would be bigger for Denny then himself winning. It would open more doors to sponsorship and revenue streams for a new team trying to make its name in the series. I really like Denny as a play here and the scenarios that could play out. He should be the only guy who starts in the top10 you have a lot of exposure to. I think this race runs pretty clean for two stages, the third stage could have anyone get eliminated and most likely will have a wreck that does eliminate contending cars. 

Ryan Blaney | 4th | 10,700DK | 12,500FD |

Blaney has shown the ability to be a factor on this track type, he’s won here 2 times recently. He’s pretty expensive, but for good reason. I don’t consider him a priority or a must start, but he is probably the best option besides Hamlin for dominator points. Again, they aren’t worth as much this week, I wouldn’t use Hamlin and Blaney together on a bunch of lines though. I think you limit other place diff plays you can use then. But Blaney is definitely worth exposure. 

Place Differential 

Ross Chastain | 23rd | 9600DK | 8200FD |

Ross tends to be overly aggressive in high pressure moments. But he’s improved on that as this season has gone on. Starting 23rd gives him a chance at a nice high ceiling. Most drivers have a similar floor this week, worst case scenario he gets in a wreck and scored negatives points. 

Justin Haley | 38th | 9400DK | 7700FD |

This is probably my favorite play this week. Here’s why: Haley has a knack for surviving till the end of these type of races. In both xfin and cup he has exceeded expectations several times at Daytona or Dega. Including a win in a rain-shortened race. That’s partly why he is so expensive. He also starts so far back in the field that if he were to wreck out he wouldn’t have a negative point score. That is worth the price jump. To top it off, Haley is driving the 16 car for Kaulig racing. It’s a solid car. Easily the best car he’s ever drove at cup level. Nice little boost there too. Any other week he isn’t an option. This week is different though, he should carry high ownership. He’s a great play for either game type and any format you play on. 

Aric Almirola | 20th | 9200DK | 10,800FD |

Almirola tends to do really well at these track types also. He’s very aggressive and there is a chance he could wreck out. So don’t over expose yourself. He’s one of my favorite plays today. 

Justin Allgaier | 33rd | 9000DK | 6100FD |

The xfin series regular jumps in Haley’s usual ride. The car isn’t great. I don’t expect him to be able to do much until late in the race, after a big wreck takes out a bunch of guys, who knows if or when it does happen. Allgaier would be happy to pick up the places though and just get a top10. I think he actually is a little safer than some of the cup regulars this week. The whole race doesn’t really matter to him. Making it to the end is all that does.

He’s a solid option. He will not look like a great play for most of the race though. He probably just hangs around the back to avoid any trouble. 

Bubba Wallace | 19th | 5900DK | 11,500FD |

I am a huge Bubba fan today. This race lines up about as perfect as you can get for Bubba to get his first win at cup level. He races well at super speedways. If he does win, it’ll most likely be on this track type. At least for now until the team as a whole improves. He has Hamlin as an ally. This is a huge advantage. Denny owns this car. If the opportunity is there for him to give Bubba a push at the end and possibly help him win, Denny does it in a heartbeat. He is +2500 to win on DK sportsbook. That bet is worth a couple bucks. 

Ryan Newman | 25th | 7500DK | 5300FD |

This is Newman’s best chance the rest of the year, and his soon ending career, to get a win or a good finish. He has done pretty well here a few times in the past. I think the fact that his car is super slow is a benefit in this spot. It might give him an advantage to avoiding the big wreck, if or when it happens. Top10 or so upside after the smoke clears and the debris is cleaned from the track, if he makes it through it. 

Ryan Preece | 27th | 6700DK | 8000FD |

He is going to go overlooked. I want exposure because of that. This could totally backfire but he has top10 or so potential if or when the race gets wild.

Corey Lajoie | 29th | 6900DK | 4000FD |

High upside potential. This team has made some big strides this year and done pretty well for its funding level. A good finish here would be a fitting reward for the hard work. 

Also Consider 

Ricky Stenhouse | 21st | 6000DK | 10,300FD |

Chris Buescher | 24th | 7400DK | 8600FD |

Cole Custer | 28th | 6800DK | 8400FD |