Every NASCAR lineup on DraftKings has a similar theme: In order to start drivers like defending Talladega winners Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski, owners must target racers lower on the price sheet.
Unlike most drivers at the bottom of the salary list this week, Ryan Blaney is worth the price. Sure, Michael Waltrip and Bobby Labonte have the experience, but Blaney has recent success and Wood Brothers Racing on his side.
Let’s go back to the last race at Talladega for Blaney. His fourth-place finish was the best this season for the 21-year-old driver, but could have been better. With no teammates—Team Penske is a partner—Blaney did not pull out of the pack to attempt a pass of Earnhardt in the final laps.
Oh yeah, he also led 15 laps at ‘Dega last October before falling back to 22nd. Now with more experience drafting in a huge pack Blaney will thrive on Sunday.
“Running well anywhere definitely gives you confidence when you go back to that track, whether it’s a superspeedway or a short track,” Blaney said in a Ford release. “We had a fast car there in the first race and there are a lot of things you take from that race, and can learn and apply to the next race whether it’s how the draft works or what line to take.
“We have a lot of confidence going into Talladega and hopefully we’ll have an even better run than we had in the first race.”
Blaney has also experienced plenty of success recently, averaging 37 points over his last two races at Charlotte and Kansas. He may be markedly consistent at intermediate tracks, but it’s restrictor-plate races where the Wood Brothers have made their name recently—including Trevor Bayne’s 2011 Daytona 500 triumph.
Is another Cinderella story being written for Blaney this Sunday? Maybe. Even if he doesn’t finish in Victory Lane, DFS owners can expect a solid point total from a driver that will outperform his value of $5,800 on DraftKings at Talladega.