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Drivers to Watch - Talladega
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NASCAR visits the southeast for the weekend’s action at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. The Aaron’s 499 will be the first of two races at this track with the GEICO 500 race occurring five months from now on Oct. 19. This superspeedway was completed in 1969 and measures 2.66 miles in a tri-oval shape. The banking on the turns is quite steep at 33° with a 4,300-foot frontstretch of 16.5° and a nearly flat backstretch (4,000 feet) with 2° banking. The seating capacity of the superspeedway is an impressive 143,231.

Last May, David Ragan won this race despite being tabbed with 100-to-1 odds, and Jamie McMurray took the Talladega fall race with 20-to-1 odds.

Drivers to Watch

Jimmie Johnson (12/1) - On the rare times that Johnson garners odds in the double-digits, bettors must put down a wager on No. 48. Johnson has 17 wins and 46 career top-5's in speedways exceeding two miles long in his career, which includes two wins (2006, 2011) and six top-5's at Talladega. His numbers at this track would be even better if he didn't suffer such bad luck in Alabama, with eight DNFs (4 crashes, 4 engine problems) in his 24 starts. Johnson is also overdue for his first victory this season, as he placed among the top-6 drivers five times already, and has led as least eight laps in six of his nine starts in 2014. Put your largest wager on Johnson this week, who is our pick to win the Aaron's 499.

Jamie McMurray (25/1)
- The best value for Sunday's race has to be McMurray at 25-to-1. Not only did he win in Talladega last October, but he also prevailed at this track in 2009 and followed it up with a runner-up in the next Alabama race. The No. 1 car also has three other top-5's at this superspeedway and is one of just seven active drivers to average more than 10 laps led per start (10.4) at this track. He has also made headway in the Chase for the Cup this season, improving his standing in each of the past three starts since a horrible 42nd-place showing in Martinsville. With five of seven career wins coming on superspeedways, McMurray is worthy of a small wager on Sunday.

Brad Keselowski (12/1) - The other favorite I like this week is Keselowski, who has the best career average finish (14.2) at Talladega among all active drivers. This includes three top-5's and two wins (2009, 2012) in just 10 career starts in Alabama. He's also getting his groove back after a five-race slump, as Keselowski finished fourth at Richmond last week, which marked the eighth time in nine starts this season that he has led a race for at least three laps. The fact that his average start over the past eight races is a miniscule 3.8 shows that Keselowski has untapped potential from his great qualifying peformances. Don't forget about the No. 2 car when you place your bets for Sunday's race.

David Ragan (50/1) - His best tracks are the superspeedways, as Ragan has tallied nine top-5's and two wins in his 76 starts at tracks exceeding two miles in length. This includes his victory at this track last May, where although he went off at 100-to-1, his win wasn't a fluke considering it was part of four straight top-7 showings in Alabama. Of all active drivers with more than two starts at Talladega, only Brad Keselowski has a better average finish than Ragan's 14.2. Not counting his two crashes at this track in 2007 and 2011, Ragan has an average finish of 10.5 in his other 12 career starts at Talladega, thanks to seven top-7 finishes. His 2014 season has been dismal, with his best finish being 27th at Fontana, but at 50-to-1 odds, Ragan is worthy of a one-unit wager to defend his Aaron's 499 title.

Danica Patrick (75/1) - She was tabbed with a mere 35-to-1 odds last May, so Patrick is a much more enticing wager at 75-to-1 for Sunday's race. Her lone top-10 finish of her young NASCAR career came at another superspeedway, when she placed eighth from the pole at Daytona last year. She was also racing well at Daytona this season with two laps led before a crash on lap 146 ended her day. Patrick will always be a longshot option, but in this unpredictable race, she appears to be the most valuable longshot wager on the board. - Odds to win Aaron’s 499

Dale Earnhardt Jr. 10/1
Jeff Gordon 12/1
Denny Hamlin 12/1
Tony Stewart 12/1
Brad Keselowski 12/1
Joey Logano 12/1
Kevin Harvick 12/1
Kyle Busch 12/1
Matt Kenseth 12/1
Jimmie Johnson 12/1
Carl Edwards 18/1
Clint Bowyer 18/1
Kasey Kahne 18/1
Kurt Busch 20/1
Greg Biffle 20/1
Kyle Larson 20/1
Jamie McMurray 25/1
Ryan Newman 25/1
Brian Vickers 30/1
Field (Any Other Driver) 30/1
Michael Waltrip 40/1
Paul Menard 40/1
Ricky Stenhouse 50/1
Martin Truex Jr. 50/1
Austin Dillon 50/1
Casey Mears 75/1
Justin Allgaier 75/1
Danica Patrick 75/1
David Ragan 75/1
Marcos Ambrose 75/1
AJ Allmendinger 75/1
Aric Almirola 75/1
Trevor Bayne 100/1
David Gilliland 100/1

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