The NASCAR XFINITY Series is heading to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend for the second restrictor-plate event of 2018. Saturday's Sparks Energy 300 is also another Dash 4 Cash event, which means that even though the Cup Series is also making a stop at Talladega, there won't be any Cup drivers in the field.
In the other Dash 4 Cash events, the lack of Cup drivers made the top XFINITY Series drivers must-own options at DraftKings, but that won't be the case this weekend. Plate tracks are chaotic by nature, and they are more about survival than they are having a fast car.
Without any big names to control the action at the front of pack, I'm expecting Saturday's race to be an absolute wreck fest. There are a lot of drivers in the field that know this might be there only chance to win a race this year, and I expect them to drive way over their heads.
As a result, I will be building all of my DFS lineups around the place differential category, and I'll be adhering to the most effective strategy for plate tracks and stacking the back. Any driver starting deep enough in the field will be on my radar. If that happens to be some of the top XFINITY drivers or the part-timers in great equipment, they'll be at the top of my list. If all the top options are starting near the front, I'm happy to load up on midrange and low-priced drivers.
Starting position will mean everything this weekend, so make sure to wait until after qualifying before finalizing any lineups. In the meantime, here are the drivers I'll be watching ahead of Saturday's Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Elliott Sadler ($11,300)
Sadler has by far the best numbers at plate tracks of any driver in the field this weekend, and it's really not close. He has a series-best seven Top 10s in the last 10 plate races, including three straight second-place finishes. In three starts at Talladega during that stretch, Sadler has finished seventh, first and second. You could justify using him in GPPs no matter where he qualifies.
Justin Allgaier ($11,100)
He has been boom or bust at the restrictor-plate tracks, but he's shown a high ceiling since joining JR Motorsports. He has finished 12th or better in four of his seven starts, notching two runner-up finishes and posting a 5.0 average finish in two starts at Talladega. I'll be hoping he starts a little deeper in the field.
Tyler Reddick ($10,200)
Reddick didn't have much success in his first three restrictor-plate starts in the XFINITY Series, but he joined JR Motorsports in the offseason and went out and won the season opener at Daytona. JR Motorsports has consistently had one of the best plate programs, and Reddick showed that he can take advantage.
Matt Tifft ($9,200)
He has finished 11th or better in three of his six starts at plate tracks, and perhaps more importantly, he has avoided disastrous finishes. Tifft has never finished worse than 21st in those six starts, cracking the Top 20 five times. If Tifft starts in the middle of the pack or worse, he should be one of the safer plays.
Ryan Reed ($8,700)
Reed has shown a knack for working the draft, and in his last 10 starts at restrictor-plate tracks, he has four finishes of sixth or better, including a pair of wins. Reed finished third at Daytona to open the year, so the upside doesn't appear to be going away. Even if he qualifies well, he could be worth a look in GPPs.
Ross Chastain ($8,400)
He just keeps piling points in the place differential category at the plate tracks. Over the last 10 races, he has gained an average of 13.6 spots while compiling a 14.3 average finish. Chastain has finished 16th or better seven times in that same stretch, cracking the Top 10 four times. He has also started 20th or worse in all 10 of those races. If he starts in the back half of the field again this weekend, he should be a strong play.
Kaz Grala ($7,400)
In his first restrictor-plate start in the Truck Series, Grala went to victory lane at Daytona. In his first XFNITY starts at a plate track, he gained 23 pots and finished fourth at Daytona. The sample size might be small, but the results are intriguing. If Grala starts deeper in the field, why not see if his success at plate tracks will continue.
Garrett Smithley ($6,900)
Smithley has been a DFS beast at the plate tracks, finishing in the Top 15 in four of his six starts, gaining an average of 15.7 spots per race. He gained 20 spots and finished in the Top 5 at Daytona to open the year, so if he has the differential upside after qualifying, he'll be worth using.
Jeremy Clements ($6,400)
Clements has a knack for taking advantage of the place differential category in plate races, and over his last 10, he has gained an average of 15.0 spots per race. Clements has finished 17th or better seven times in that same span while never starting better than 23rd. If he qualifies deep in the field again this weekend, dial him up.
Joey Gase ($5,700)
He crashed out early at Daytona this year, but Gase had finished inside the Top 20 in his previous four starts at restrictor-plate tracks. He gained at least 15 spots in all four of those races, gaining more than 20 spots two times. Gase has started outside the Top 30 in eight of his last nine starts at plate tracks, and I won't hesitate to use him this weekend if that trend continues.