NASCAR is super-speedway racing for the third time this season. Talladega, like Daytona and Atlanta to a lesser extent, features big wrecks and packs of cars unable to separate from each other. This is a long-shot week.
As always, trust the data but also trust your eyes. Here are the best bets for the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega, which gets underway Sunday, April 23 at 3 p.m. ET.
The NASCAR circuit runs a different style of race every week. So far this season, two styles have been more common. Last week, the short-track package once again proved to heavily benefit the favorites. The other style is super-speedway racing (plate racing or pack racing). Daytona was won by a long shot (Ricky Stenhouse Jr +4000). Atlanta — not a pure super speedway — was much more tame. Talladega should race more like Daytona than Atlanta. Let’s explore the long shots.
Race Winner — GEICO 500
Martin Truex Jr +3,000
Over the last decade, Truex has been one of the worst super-speedway racers in the Cup Series. Is he bad or unlucky? It’s always luck when it comes to evaluating pack-racing stats. If Truex were lacking skill, then his recent results would be hard to explain. Last season, Truex finished eighth and 11th at Atlanta, fifth and 12th at Talladega and eighth and 13th at Daytona. He’s close, his JGR Toyota will have race-winning speed and his bad luck is slowly fading.
Austin Hill +4,500
This is probably a sucker bet. Hill is racing for Beard Motorsports in the Cup Series this weekend not RCR. Beard has earned top-10 finishes at plate tracks with Brendan Gaughan and Noah Gragson. This car may not have the speed to win, but is that really a thing? What is more important is getting in position to win. The car has to be good enough and the driver needs to be an elite plate racer. Austin Hill is young but he is elite. His first career win was the Truck Series race at Daytona in 2019. In his rookie year in the 2022 Xfinity Series season, Hill won at Daytona and Atlanta. Again, he won at Daytona and Atlanta in 2023. The car is not great but he is.
Race Winner — GEICO 500
Noah Gragson +8,000
As long as Gragson has long odds, he’ll be featured in the NASCAR Best Bets article for super-speedways races. Gragson won at Daytona and Talladega in the Xfinity Series. Legacy Motor Club — formerly Richard Petty Motorsports — has consistently produced solid plate-track cars over the last decade. Even as a small team with less resources, Aric Almirola and Bubba Wallace were contenders in the No. 43 car in every plate race.
Harrison Burton +10,000
His time in the Cup Series has been a disaster. Honestly, his career has been incredibly disappointing. Other than four wins during the 2020 COVID season — a season raced with a weekly format that greatly advantaged drivers with superior equipment — Burton’s been so-so. So why pick him? These are very long odds for a racer with a pedigree. The odds seem to ignore the Wood Bros’ alliance with Team Penske, and the Wood Bros’ success at plate tracks. In 2021, Matt DiBenedetto nearly won at Talladega in the No. 21 Ford.
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