Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:56 PM
Sunday's 1000Bulbs.com 500 from Talladega Superspeedway has been postponed due to inclement weather. It will resume at 2:00 p.m. ET on Monday Oct. 14th.
It’s time to play NASCAR super-lotto roulette at the sportsbooks because it's Talladega Superspeedway week where the cars are equal, the racing is tight at 200 mph, and 35 of the 40 drivers have a legitimate chance to win. It’s where the usual weekly 1,000-to-1 longshots are dropped down to 100-to-1 and the usual 7-to-2 favorites are raised to 25-to-1.
The randomness of Talladega races makes betting on it like picking a number to win on a roulette wheel or craps table. I lower my weekly bankroll down considerably mostly because I don’t bet driver vs. driver match-ups unless I get baited at +125 on anyone. I’ll bet six or seven drivers with staggered bet amounts with two favorites, a few middle of the road guys and one or two longshots and then watch the race on the edge of my seat for three hours waiting for “The Big One” to happen and hoping all six of my drivers escape the wrath of this monstrous 2.66-mile tri-oval with 33 degrees of banking. Sometimes “The Big One” takes out half the field, and I’ll usually feel the wrath among two or three of my drivers allowing me to rip up those bet tickets.
Sometimes I don’t win any of the six drivers and then I’ll say I’m never betting a Talladega race again, but I can’t stay away. It’s too much fun. There are so many thrilling moments throughout the race rooting my drivers to the front of the pack and the wagers take the excitement to next level stuff. And then when I win and show a decent profit for the day, it’s an epic feeling of accomplishment -- Talladega more so than other tracks because of the luck and randomness involved. It’s kind of like horse racing when my adrenaline rush kicks in rooting in my tri-box, but instead of 2 minutes, it’s three hours of drama.
So let’s take a look at my six darts (drivers) I’ll bet this week to throw at the dartboard with hopes of getting lucky and hitting the bullseye and we’ll get started with the 8-to-1 favorite to win Sunday’s 1000Bulbs.com 500, Joey Logano.
Logano has a couple of things going for him this week that like beginning with drafting skills, Ford, and Team Penske strength on these tracks. Ford has won seven of the last eight Talladega races and Logano has three of those wins. He almost got his fourth win in the April Talladega race but got passed with four laps to go. He also had the best car at Daytona’s rain-shortened race in July. Between the two races using this race package with aero ducts on the cars, taller spoilers and engines producing 550 horsepower, Logano has looked the best.
Another reason I’m investing the largest portion of my bankroll on Logano to win this week is his playoff situation. In the first race of the Round of 12 last week at Dover, he finished 34th and is now outside looking in with two races to go until four more drivers are chopped and he doesn’t want to be one of them.
“We definitely used our mulligan,” Logano said. “We used the Playoff points we accumulated, we just have to be perfect now. We have two really good race tracks coming up though. Talladega is arguably one of our best race tracks and I would say Kansas as well. We just have to be perfect from here.”
I like betting on guys that are desperate for a win on any track, and I’m still mulling over another one who fell outside the top-8 in points last week. Chase Elliott blew an engine after 8 laps and finished 38th. He won the first Talladega race this season and is being offered at 10-to-1.
“I assume we’ll have to win one of these next few weeks,” Elliott said Sunday after his race was over. “If you ever make it to (Championship Race) at Homestead (Fla.), you’re going to have to win down there. I guess it’s a good opportunity to practice here these next few weeks.”
A driver I’m still looking for high odds with is Elliott’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman who the sharp guys at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook are offering at 16-to-1 odds. I want 25-to-1 odds. His performance in the first April race opened my eyes on a few fronts; the first being how fast all the Hendrick cars were in the draft. The second was Bowman finishing second in the first and second stages and then finishing second in the race. But now he has playoff pressure currently inside the cut-line in seventh.
“Honestly, it is probably just a little more stressful this go around,” Bowman said .”I feel like we’ve obviously done a good job as a company and Chevrolet to run well at these tracks. Our superspeedway cars are always really good, but we’re still at the mercy of everyone else. It is really just the unknown of what can happen on the track. We just have to be smart in a stressful environment. I think the easiest thing to do is stay out front all day. There isn’t really anywhere to hide, but you always have guys that try to run in the back and there is still a chance to get taken out anyway.”
Another driver I have on my shopping list is Aric Almirola who has quietly turned into one of the better superspeedway drivers on the circuit and it all started when he was with Richard Petty Motorsports.
“I always had to go to these races and be aggressive because, back then, they were our only realistic options to win races,” Almirola said. “It was the only way I could make it into the playoffs and we were able to do that in 2014 (Daytona win). They’ve been good to me. I’ve always gone into those races with that mindset.”
Almirola’s last three starts at Talladega with RPM saw him finish eighth, fourth, and fifth. When taking over Danica Patrick’s No. 10 for Stewart-Haas Racing last season he continued his great Talladega run with seventh in the spring and then winning in the fall where his only lap led was the last one. He was ninth in the April race.
My favorite longshot of the week is 2018 Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon. I’ve seen two races with this race package and I made special side notes about Dillon for both races the same way I did for Logano. In the April race at Talladega, he started from the pole, finished third in the first stage, and fifth in the second stage before finishing 14th. At Daytona in July, he led a race-high 46 laps and won the second stage before being involved in a late wreck. He’s 60-to-1 to win and I’m loving it.
Of course, 2014 Talladega winner Denny Hamlin will be in my betting portfolio this week just because he’s a must buy in all Superspeedway races because he always finds his way to the front, such as winning the 2019 Daytona 500 in the last race using restrictor-plates. He’s fighting for his first Cup Championship and I look for him to follow the strategy Bowman talked about which is getting out front and stay out of harm’s way.
Brad Keselowski is listed at 10-to-1 odds and he showed right away how good he is at Talladega when he won his first Cup race there in 2009 driving for an underfunded part-time team. He’s the active leader with five Talladega wins.
As for the normal favorites, Martin Truex Jr. is 25-to-1 and Kyle Busch is 14-to-1. Both probably just want to finish and get some points rather than charge hard for a win and be near The Big One. I won’t have them in my betting mix despite the appearance of value.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., a native Mississippi, got his first cup win at Talladega in 2017 and then also won the same year at Daytona in July. Both remain his only two Cup wins, but he’s always good on both tracks and no active driver has a better average finish (11.8) at Talladega than him. He’s 16-to-1 to win this week.
2010 Talladega winner Kevin Harvick is 14-to-1 to win Sunday and I found his thoughts on the race kind of funny.
“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.”
Yep, it’s a crapshoot.
Top-5 Finish Prediction:
1) #22 Joey Logano (8/1)
2) #3 Austin Dillon (60/1)
3) #11 Denny Hamlin (12/1)
4) #10 Aric Almirola (20/1)
5) #88 Alex Bowman (16/1)