NASCAR America Fantasy League: 10 Best at Talladega in last three years

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In order to protect their position in the points, NASCAR drivers have to survive the restrictor-plate tracks with minimal damage. The same is true for fantasy players.

Avoiding the ‘Big One’ crash is not easy. If a driver runs long enough, they are going to sustain damage. Fantasy players cannot realistically expect all of their drivers to get to the end of the race without damage – but there is still a strategy that can be employed.

Marquee drivers are just as likely to have problems in the Geico 500 at Talladega SuperSpeedway, but when they do, the majority of players will be equally impacted. That puts a premium on selecting the perfect dark horse. Luckily, there are a quite a lot of drivers deep in the points with great records on this wildcard track.

Track your progress in the NASCAR America Fantasy league at nascar.com/nbcsportsfantasy, and then share your results on Twitter using #NASCARAmericaFantasy.

1. Ty Dillon (three-year average: 10.00 in three races)
Dillon did not earn Cup points in the 2016 Geico 500, but he finished sixth in relief of Tony Stewart. Last year, he swept the top 15 at Talladega and that makes him a very attractive dark horse.

2. Kurt Busch (10.83)
Streaks on restrictor-plate superspeedways are incredibly difficult to create and maintain. Busch entered last fall’s Alabama 500 with a six-race streak of top-12 finishes until he was sidelined by an accident on lap 171.

3. Paul Menard (11.50)
The saving grace of Talladega is that fantasy players get a chance to start drivers they might not otherwise. Menard has five results of 13th or better in his last six races on this 2.66-mile behemoth.

4. Brad Keselowski (12.17)
Team Penske has combined for five wins in the last seven Talladega races. Keselowski has earned three of these. His most recent came last fall in the Alabama 500.

5. Aric Almirola (12.50)
Almirola is the only driver entered this week with a three-race, top-10 streak at Talladega. Last year, he was the only one to sweep the top five.

6. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (13.83)
Stenhouse is the defending winner of the Geico 500. He posted another victory at Daytona in July 2017, so he knows how to stay out of trouble on the plate tracks.

7. Gray Gaulding (14.50 in two races)
Winning in fantasy racing on the wild card restrictor-plate superspeedways often means guessing which driver will survive the carnage. Last fall at Talladega, Gaulding was involved in two accidents, but managed to finish ninth.

8. Kyle Busch (14.60 in five races)
Busch has compared winning a fourth consecutive race at Talladega to winning the lottery. He won the 2008 Aaron’s 499 and finished second and third in two of the last five races there.

9. Kevin Harvick (14.67)
Harvick’s three-year Talladega average from 2013 through 2016 was a stellar 10.4, but his numbers suffered last year on the heels of two 20-something results.

9. Ryan Newman (14.67)
Newman’s second-place finish to Keselowski last fall at ‘Dega was his fifth top 15 in the last seven races on this track. Slow and steady helps win the fantasy race.

Bonus Picks

Pole Winner: Winning a pole at Talladega has been as unpredictable as winning the race – and it’s impossible to predict before the teams hit the track. Keep an eye on Team Penske, but wait until first practice is complete to make this selection.

Segment Winners: While his three-year average is not among the top 10, Logano has a ton of speed during the middle stages of the restrictor-plate superspeedway races. Pick him as the winner for both segments and hope that he doesn’t crash early.

For more Fantasy NASCAR coverage, check out Rotoworld.com and follow Dan Beaver (@FantasyRace) on Twitter.

Road America to host 2021 Cup race on July 4

Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images
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Food, fireworks and road course racing will fill the July 4 calendar for NASCAR fans with Road America hosting the Cup series on that holiday weekend in 2021.

The track announced the race date Wednesday. The full Cup schedule is set to be released at 3:30 p.m. ET today.

The 4.048-mile course has hosted Xfinity races since 2010. Among the current Cup drivers who won there in the Xfinity Series are Michael McDowell in 2016 and Christopher Bell in 2019.

MORE: Cup to run on Indy road course in 2021

MORE: Circuit of the Americas to host Cup for first time in 2021

The track takes the holiday date that had been held by Daytona International Speedway from 1959-2018 before Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosted the Cup Series that weekend last year.

“We certainly have been working very close with (Road America) not only how we bring this to life but, ultimately, where it was going to be located on the schedule,” Ben Kennedy, NASCAR vice president of racing operations, told NBC Sports, said of adding the Wisconsin track to the schedule. “We started to really toss around the idea of hey, what about July 4th weekend and what would that look like for the track?

“Just even the name, Road America, it feels like Americana and the July 4th weekend and everything. Fireworks, camping and cookout, everything that goes along with it. That track is almost synonymous with it. I think that’s where we really ended up kind of tying Road America to July 4th weekend. Working with NBC on that as well, they are certainly very bullish on it and excited about having Road America on that weekend.”

Tim Flock won the lone Cup race at Road America in 1956. Flock was among nine NASCAR Hall of Famers among the 26 drivers in that race. Others included Fireball Roberts (third), Herb Thomas (sixth), Buck Baker (eighth), Rex White (11th), Lee Petty (13th), Joe Weatherly (20th), Curtis Turner (24th) and Junior Johnson (26th).

Circuit of the Americas to host Cup for first time in 2021

R. Kevin Butts photo - Courtesy of COTA
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The Cup Series will do more road course racing in 2021 with the addition of the Circuit of the Americas to the schedule, the track announced Wednesday.

The Cup race will be held May 23.

The 3.41-mile road course in Austin, Texas, has hosted Formula One and IndyCar races, among others since its debut in 2012. The track also has a 2.2-mile, 15-turn short course. Announcements regarding race length, course selection and the full weekend schedule will be made at a later date.

MORE: Cup to run on Indy road course in 2021

A NASCAR event has never been held at Circuit of the Americas, but Tony Stewart piloted a Stewart-Haas Racing car there last year in a demonstration run.

COTA is located roughly 220 miles south of Texas Motor Speedway. Speedway Motorsports will be the event’s promoter.

“Our company is proud to have a 60-year history of fabulous firsts in motorsports entertainment, and we are honored to bring America’s premier racing series to one of the world’s most renowned entertainment venues and cities for the very first time,” said Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith in a statement. “I’d like to thank COTA CEO Bobby Epstein as well as NASCAR’s executive leadership for supporting us in an endeavor to do something that we believe will be spectacular for race fans, not only in Texas but around the world. We work and challenge ourselves every day at Speedway Motorsports to create amazing experiences that will last a lifetime, and we know NASCAR at COTA will deliver in 2021.” 

“I’m grateful for Marcus Smith’s vision and determination to make this event possible,” said Circuit of the Americas CEO and Chairman, Bobby Epstein in a statement. “His teams in Charlotte and at Texas Motor Speedway have created a spirit of partnership that will make for a spectacular weekend of fun and competition. Speedway Motorsports, along with the leadership at NASCAR, have a ‘Fans First’ attitude and have responded to everyone who has long desired to see a Cup Series race at COTA. Fans who’ve been here before will witness stock car racing at its finest for the first time, and first-time visitors will be amazed at the views and friendly experience. It will be our pleasure to write another chapter of motorsports history alongside Speedway Motorsports and NASCAR in 2021.” 

The complete 2021 schedule will be announced this afternoon by NASCAR.

Cup to run on Indy road course in 2021

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The NASCAR Cup Series will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2021 but will race on the road course for the first time instead of the oval, track officials announced Wednesday.

Cup will race on the road course on Aug. 15. That race will be held a day after the NTT IndyCar Series races on the Indy road course.

“Our first NASCAR-IndyCar weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants involved,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and IndyCar together during this exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

MORE: Atlanta to have two Cup dates in 2021

MORE: Darlington to run Cup races on Mother’s Day, Labor Day weekend in 2021

The Cup Series has raced at Indy since 1994. But as the racing there has been questioned and the sport has made a push for more road course races, NASCAR moved the Xfinity Series to the road course this year as a trial. The event was well received, creating the opportunity to move next year’s Cup race to the road course as well.

“Indy is Indy, no matter if you’re on the road course or you’re on the oval,” Joey Logano said of what a win there would mean. “It doesn’t matter. If you’re on the dirt track, I don’t care, it’s Indy. It’s that big deal to win there. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a Cup car, IndyCar or a tricycle, you want to win at that race track.”

Indy’s road course is 2.439 miles and features 14 turns. Chase Briscoe won the Xfinity race there after a four-car battle for the lead in the final laps.

The full Cup schedule will be announced Wednesday afternoon. The Xfinity schedule will be announced at a later date. Boles said on a media Zoom he was unsure of the Xfinity plans but talked with Logano about an interest Logano would have in running in a Xfinity race there to get more track time for the Cup race.

 

Darlington Raceway gets second Cup race for 2021

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Darlington Raceway will have two races in 2021, marking the first time since 2004 that the track has been scheduled to hold multiple Cup races in a season. The track announced its schedule Wednesday with South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster at the Governor’s mansion.

“Congratulations. Thank you. Hallelujah,” Gov. McMaster said after the dates were announced.

Darlington was scheduled to host one race in 2020 but added two more in NASCAR’s return to racing after the season was suspended by the COVID-19 pandemic.

MORE: Atlanta to host two Cup races in 2021 for first time since 2010

The track will hold its first Cup race next season on May 9. That is Mother’s Day. It marks only the third time in the last 40 years the series will have run on Mother’s Day. The series last raced on Mother’s Day in 2007 when rain forced the Darlington race to be held that afternoon. The only other time NASCAR raced on Mother’s Day in the last 40 years was 1986 when the All-Star Race was held at Atlanta.

Darlington’s second date will be its Southern 500 event on Sept. 5, Labor Day weekend. That race will again open the  Cup playoffs.

NASCAR will announce the 2021 Cup schedule on Wednesday afternoon.

Darlington hosted two Cup races a season from 1960-2004. It held one Cup race from 2005-19.

The track stated that 2021 schedules for the NASCAR Xfinity and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be announced at a later date.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, tweeted that the Darlington races would be run with the low downforce package.