“To Talladega, boys raised up, Whiskey in your glass, here’s to turning up, Slowing down and cars that go real fast, We were laughing and living, drinking and wishing, And thinking as that checkered flag was waving, Sure would like to stay in Talladega”
Thank you all for indulging that. Nothing gets me more fired up than Super Speedway racing, especially off a bye week with the Easter break. The preview will be short and simple this week because realistically, the one thing to expect at Talldega is the unexpected. Especially with the new aero package and higher spoiler, this race could be pure chaos with a surprise winner out of nowhere and a last lap pass.
Brad Keselowski leads all active drivers with 5 wins at the largest track on the NASCAR circuit with teammate Joey Logano not far off with 3 wins of his own. They have combined to win 6 of the last 9 races at ‘Dega with the only 3 other winners being the retired Dale Jr., Ricky Stenhouse (another name to watch on Sunday) and Aric Almirola who won last fall and has 5 straight top 10’s.
Opening GEICO 500 Odds:
-Joey Logano & Brad Keselowski 8/1
-Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch 10/1
-Aric Almirola, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott 14/1
-Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Paul Menard, Daniel Suarez 18/1
-Alex Bowman, Erik Jones, Matt DiBenedetto 30/1
-Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson, William Byron, Ryan Newman 40/1
-Ryan Preece, Bubba Wallace, Ty Dillon 80/1
-David Ragan 100/1
Brad Keselowski ($10,700): New aero package and higher spoiler aside, Keselowski was the restrictor-plate driver of this generation, and I don’t expect him to be any less dominant now. He’s got a sharp, bad fast car and starts on the second row plus that Roush Yates engine under the hood.
Denny Hamlin ($9,800): Hamlin already has two wins this year, including a Super Speedway for the Daytona 500. He’s got an 8.75 average finish over his last 4 Dega races and starts 23rd. He’ll get you a ton of points on place differential and work his way up front.
Aric Almirola ($8,100): Almirola has been the best at this track over the last two years with a 4.25 average finish. He won last fall and starts on the front row. The No. 10 should run up front and contend for the win at the finish.
Jimmie Johnson ($8,300): Johnson scored a win at the Clash and rolls off 21st. He’s only got two career wins at Talladega, but does own a 12.75 average finish over the last two years with a pair of top 10’s. This could be his chance to break the streak, especially since that team turned s corner before the break.
Daniel Suarez ($7,900): Suarez has quietly started to put it all together with his new team scoring a top 10 in 3 of the last 4 races. He’s never finished outside of the top 20 and starts 16th. Lock him in, especially with that fresh Orange Vanilla Coke paint scheme.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,400): This is what this team works for all season. That engine, that team, that driver and this type of racetrack. He won here two years ago and always runs up front. They start inside the top 10 and should run near the front all day.
Paul Menard ($6,700): If you’re looking for a sleeper, Menard is mine this weekend. That Wood Brothers team is always sneaky good on these tracks and with the Penske alliance is that much more of a threat. He starts 17th and has two top 10’s over the last two years.
Chris Buescher ($6,900): Buescher is my final value play. I really like David Ragan who has won at the track, but he’s much riskier starting 15th. Buescher and the 37 team have been running great and roll off 31st, a spot they’ll definitely improve on.
Aric Almirola: This is very tough for me and honestly you could make the case for a number of guys. However, the way that team has been running and his recent success at the track is hard to ignore. I’ve got my money on the 10 car to roll into victory lane on Sunday afternoon.