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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:49 PM

NASCAR YellaWood 500 Picks, Predictions


NASCAR Cup Series
YellaWood 500 Picks

Sunday’s YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway’s beastly high-banked 2.66-mile layout is the ultimate wild card race for the Playoffs with only three drivers safe from dropping below the eighth-place cut line. It’s the fifth race of the Playoffs and second of three in the Round of 12.

Talladega Betting Resources

  • Date: Sunday, October 4, 2020
  • TV-Time: NBCSN, 2:05 p.m. ET
  • Venue: Talladega Superspeedway
  • Location: Talladega, Alabama

Kurt Busch's win last week at Las Vegas has automatically qualified for the Round of 8. Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin are also safe at the moment based on a head start in Playoff points because of winning so many regular-season races and stages.

Brad Keselowski is in 4th-place in points (3,059), only 39 points ahead of 12th-place Austin Dillon. The bottom four drivers will be chopped next week at the Charlotte Roval, which in a way is another wild card because road courses are difficult for half the drivers.

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What makes Talladega the King of wild cards is that no driver is safe from the "Big One" unsuspectedly grabbing him and ruining his day, and it always happens. The superspeedway race package is so equal for all teams that almost any driver can win, and because the cars go faster when bunching up together in the draft, they all do it sometimes going four-wide, bumper/bumper in a massive pack. One car wiggles, another car reacts, 25 other cars also react, collide, and it becomes a big pile up.

This is why I don’t bet driver matchups because a lot of my tp rated drivers for Talladega get caught up in that mess.

Driver ratings don’t hold up at Talladega which is the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook doesn’t have any driver lower than 10/1 odds to win, but have the Top-30 drivers at 50/1 or less.

For example, Bubba Wallace is usually a 500/1 betting choice, but he’s at 30/1 odds this week.

NASCAR Cup Odds
Talladega

So no matchups or props for the race, but I do bet more drivers to win than I do for a normal race. I usually end up with about nine drivers to win because the drivers that do well on the superspeedway are plentiful. Joey Logano is part of the Ford gang that has won nine of the last 10 Talladega races, winning three times, and he’s being offered at 10/1 odds, as is his Penske teammate Ryan Blaney who has won the last two there.

  • Ryan Blaney +1000
  • Chase Elliott +1000
  • Joey Logano +1000
  • Denny Hamlin +1100
  • Brad Keselowski +1100
  • Aric Almirola +1400
  • Kevin Harvick +1400
  • Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. +1400
  • Kyle Busch +1500
  • Kurt Busch +1600
  • Martin Truex Jr. +2000
  • More NASCAR Futures
  • (Odds Subject to Change)

After seeing Hamlin and Harvick dominate at low odds for most of the season, seeing 10/1 on two of the best is awesome. So is three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin -- the 2014 Talladega winner is also 10/1. Five-time Talladega winner Brad Keselowski, another Penske driver, is 12/1 to win.

Harvick is 14/1 to win this week and he always has lots of advice to offer on how to attack Talladega.

“I have no idea,” Harvick said. “You just show up and see how it develops. “All you can do is show up for a weekend at Talladega and see how it develops and go from there.”

Harvick’s lone Talladega win came in 2010 and has finished 10th or worse in six of his last seven starts there. I won’t be betting him even though a win here not a shock just because anyone can win and he’s been winning almost everywhere as the season leader with nine wins.

Handicapping YellaWood 500

I’ve got my favorites structured, now I need a few longer shots like Aric Almirola offered at 18/1 odds at William Hill. I put the most cash on him among my Talladega betting portfolio this week. I believe I had him to win the most in the June race there, but he would finish third. He’s been ninth or better in his last eight races there which tied a record set by Dale Earnhardt Jr. with eight straight top-10s. His 2018 fall win at Talladega pushed him into the Round of 8.

“Talladega has always been good to me,” Almirola said. “Superspeedways have typically been good to me. We seem to find ourselves in the position to win there more than any track on the circuit, so we feel really good about our chances heading there this weekend.”

Almirola sits 27-points behind the 8th-place transfer position to the Round of 8. He knows he can’t win at the Roval next week so his best chance of advancing is to win. The same thing is true for Austin Dillon who sits 12th, 32-points behind the transfer slot. The desperation angle is good for Dillon this week as is his 30/1 odds I took. The 2018 Daytona 500 winner has been at his best in superspeedway races.

Clint Bowyer (30/1) needs to shake things up with a win also as he sits 10th in points, 20-points down. He's a two-time Talladega winner and should have the same equipment as Stewart Haas Racing teammate Almirola.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is 25/1 to win and after 14 Cup starts at Talladega, he’s the active leader with a 10.9 average finish which includes six top-fives and a 2017 win. Both his career wins have come at superspeedway and he lost the June Talladega race by a bumper to finish second. He makes stuff happen and sometimes his aggression hurts him in races, but it's in that aggressive nature and his odds that I’ve bet him. He’s not in the Playoffs and could care less about them. This is his best chance to win in 2020.

Looking for Big Returns!

I’m on the search for best Chris Buescher odds because he’s always there at the end of races on superspeedways. He was third in the Daytona 500, sixth at Talladega in June, and ninth at Daytona five weeks ago. He’s 30/1 to win, and I’ll be looking for better than 50/1 odds on Buescher’s Fenway Roush Racing teammate Ryan Newman who had the 2020 Daytona 500 won before Blaney pinched him near the finish line.

Other drivers to consider that have higher odds are Wallace at 30/1 because of finishing 15th or better in the three superspeedway races this season capped by a best of fifth at Daytona last month. He’s got a new ride with new 2021 owners Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin and has no pressure to do anything. He knows he can win.

On the same front is Front Row Motorsports drivers John Hunter Nemechek (50/1) and Michael McDowell (50/1). They build their best cars for superspeedways and both cars always seem to be there in the mix for the final 10 laps. They have the same Roush Fenway equipment with a Yates engine. Nemechek, the rookie driver of the No. 38 Ford, has quite the stat line in his first three Cup races on superspeedways averaging a 10th-place finish. McDowell was fifth in this race last season.

Tyler Reddick (40/1) has RCR equipment like teammate Dillon and won the Xfinity Series race at Talladega last fall. Erik Jones (40/1) is still auditioning for a ride and is a past Daytona winner and finished fifth at Talladega in June while Martin Truex Jr. (25/1) has only two top-fives with no wins in 31 Talladega Cup starts, although he did win three straight Xfinity Series races from 2004-06.

Kyle Busch is nine points below the cut after finishing sixth at Las Vegas last week and is being offered at 14/1 odds at a place he hasn’t won at since 2008, his only win there. Kurt Busch (20/1) has never won at Talladega in 39 starts, but he’s always near the front with 21 top-10 finishes. He also never won at his home in Las Vegas in 21 attempts until Sunday night which gave him an auto bid making this race a free for all with nothing to lose.

The two most consistent drivers on superspeedways this season are Hamlin and Blaney. Hamlin is the only driver to finish fourth or better on all three and Blaney has finished sixth or better in all three. Hamlin was the last Toyota to win at Talladega.

Best of luck in whatever betting strategy you choose this week.

YellaWood 500
Top-5 Finish Prediction

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