Ahh… Talladega. Otherwise known as the place where you actually have a chance to hit a long shot bet! Of the 40 drivers entered for Sunday’s GEICO 500, 12 of them have visited victory lane at least once at Talladega, with Brad Keselowski leading the way with five wins. His teammate, Joey Logano, has three, while the third Penske car piloted by Ryan Blaney has one win. That Ford power has been unstoppable here lately, too, as the Blue Ovals have gone to victory lane in eight of the last nine races at ‘Dega.
The bets listed below are ones that I have already placed via the DraftKings Sportsbook, with the odds posted.
My Top Bets for the Talladega GEICO 500
Aric Almirola over Alex Bowman (-115) – I’m a fan of Aric Almirola in pretty much any head-to-head matchup this weekend. Now we all now that Talladega can be completely unpredictable, and eventually he’s going to have a bad race here, but Aric Almirola has 9th or better in every single race at this track over the last three-and-a-half years (seven total). That includes his win here in the 2018 fall race. Bowman, on the other hand, has finished 33rd or worse in four of his last six Talladega starts.
Ryan Newman to Win Group E (+265) – I was a little surprised Ryan Newman wasn’t the favorite in this group, but I’ll take it. Group E consists of Erik Jones, Jimmie Johnson, Tyler Reddick, and, of course, Ryan Newman. Looking at track history, Jones has just one finish better than 19th in six career starts at Talladega, while Johnson has finished outside of the top 20 in five of his last eight starts here. Reddick has never made a Cup start here but he’s crashed in his two Daytona races this year. Newman, on the other hand, has top 10s in four of his last five Talladega starts as well as five top 10s in his last six Daytona starts. He’s honestly one of the best superspeedway racers right now.
Clint Bowyer to Win (+2200) – From 2007 to 2016, Clint Bowyer was always one of the top Fantasy NASCAR picks at Talladega, as he racked up 14 top 12 finishes over 18 total races, and also went to victory lane twice during that span. Clint has hit a rough patch here at Talladega since then, but it’s not like he doesn’t have the talent to get to the front again on Sunday (not to mention the Ford power underneath the hood). Bowyer came home 6th in this year’s Daytona 500, for what it’s worth.
Other bets added to my card:
- Erik Jones to Win (+3300) … There is “bad luck” and then there is whatever the hell has infected this #20 team lately. Erik Jones was well on his way to a solid top 10 finish, and maybe even top 5, at Homestead last week but had a loose wheel late and disappointed Fantasy NASCAR owners for what seems like the fifth race in a row. So why am I mentioning that? Eventually, this team is going to get a nice dose of good luck, and we’ve seen Jones get a win at Daytona before. His track record at Talladega is atrocious (28.2) but at 33-to-1 odds, it’s worth a small bet, to me anyway.
- ADDED SATURDAY EVENING: Ty Dillon Top 10 Finish (+300) … These are some great odds for a guy that has never finished worse than 17th at Talladega. Yeah, he has only one top 10 finish here, but it came last fall. Ty is a great driver at avoiding trouble and that’s how you have a shot at finishing top 10 at a superspeedway.
- ADDED SATURDAY EVENING: Ryan Newman Top 10 Finish (+210) … I couldn’t pass up these odds for a top 10 finish. See the notes above on Newman, he’s finished top 10 in four of his last five starts at this track.