NASCAR at Talladega betting preview: There haven't been any surprise winners recently

Nick Bromberg
·3-min read

Geico 500

2 p.m. ET (Fox)

There hasn’t been a surprise winner at Talladega in quite some time.

The victors have been fairly predictable in the 15 races since David Ragan won the 2013 spring race at the track. Sure, there have been guys like Jamie McMurray and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in Victory Lane, but you could make a case that those wins were foreseeable

McMurray had won at Talladega previously before his win in the fall of 2013. Stenhouse started from the pole in 2017 in his win and had finished fifth in the previous race at the 2.66-mile track.

Aric Almirola wasn’t a favorite when he won in the fall of 2018, but he was in the playoffs and ran up front all day as Stewart-Haas Racing dominated the race.

Meanwhile, drivers like Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney each have multiple Talladega victories since Ragan and Front Row Racing won eight years ago.

The lack of surprise winners doesn’t mean betting Talladega is easy, however. It’s probably still one of the toughest tracks to bet, especially if you’re betting a driver to win. The best strategy is to place a few low-dollar bets on drivers throughout the field. You may not win much if one of your favorites wins, but you could get a decent payday if one of your long shots hits and you’ll have a much better chance of at least breaking even.

Here’s a look at the odds for Sunday’s race courtesy of BetMGM.

The favorites

Denny Hamlin, +650

Joey Logano, +900

Ryan Blaney, +1000

Chase Elliott, +1100

Brad Keselowski, +1100

Elliott is the only driver among this group who hasn't won at least two races at Talladega since Ragan's win. His win in that span came during the spring of 2019. Hamlin won the fall race at Talladega a year ago and Blaney preceded him with two consecutive wins. It's also worth keeping in mind that Logano and Keselowski were running first and second on the final lap of the Daytona 500 before, you know, that happened. 

Good mid-tier value

Ryan Newman, +3000

Erik Jones, +4000

Here’s a look at Newman’s last seven Talladega finishes: 2nd, 9th, 25th, 7th, 2nd, 24th, 6th. That’s a pretty good top-10 rate even if it’s progressing back to the mean. Newman had a run of eight 30th or worse finishes in 10 Talladega races from 2008-13.

Jones has finished in the top five in each of the last two Talladega races. And while he’s on a new (and worse) team this year, Richard Petty Motorsports has produced some fast cars at Talladega and Daytona.

Don't bet this driver

Kevin Harvick, +2000

Harvick’s odds normally mean a green light given his success nearly everywhere in the Cup Series in recent years. But that “nearly everywhere” does not include Talladega.

Harvick last won at Talladega in 2010 and hasn’t finished any higher than 10th in the last five races at the track.

Looking for a long shot?

Michael McDowell, +6600

These are pretty good odds for the Daytona 500 champion. Though it’s worth noting that the success he’s had at Daytona has not translated to Talladega. McDowell has just one top-10 finish — a fifth in 2019 — in 20 starts at Talladega. That’s far worse than his seven top 10s in 20 starts at Daytona.

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