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NASCAR at Talladega: Vegas odds, key stats, prediction, sleepers, fantasy drivers to watch

Betting favorites and fantasy sleepers for Sunday's Alabama 500 at Talladega.

Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr.

In restrictor-plate racing, a simple slip can cause a massive wreck as cars are separated in the draft literally by inches. With NASCAR's new repair rules, it's possible we could see fewer than 25 cars finish Sunday's Alabama 500 at Talladega, similar to the Daytona 500, which saw 35 of the 40 cars in the field involved in some sort of wreck.

Kurt Busch won the Great American Race in February, extending Ford's dominance at the two restrictor-plate tracks. Over the past 27 races at Daytona and Talladega, Ford has won 15 of them in part to Team Penske and Roush Fenway Racing's success. 

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won the July Daytona race and at Talladega earlier this season. Before that, Joey Logano took the checkered flag in the previous two fall races at Talladega while Brad Keselowski has combined with his Penske teammate to win four of the last six races at the Alabama track. 

Our pick to win Sunday will break the Ford trend. The hottest team in NASCAR is Joe Gibbs Racing led by Kyle Busch, but it is Denny Hamlin that is known as the team's restrictor-plate king. Hamlin owns the third-best average finish at restrictor-plate tracks since 2015, including 202 laps led and a 93.1 driver rating. We expect Hamlin to become a Talladega Knight on Sunday. 

We can't talk about Talladega without mentioning Dale Earnhardt Jr.. Sunday’s race marks Junior's final race at the Talladega — his top track. Earnhardt’s six wins at Talladega are tied with Jeff Gordon’s total for second all-time. His father, Dale Earnhardt, holds the track record with 10 victories. He said he is motivated to do well Sunday and it's no surprise he is one of the favorites to win on Sunday (2 p.m. ET, NBC). 

What are the Las Vegas odds for the NASCAR race at Talladega?

Here are the race odds according to 5Dimes:

Brad Keselowski +900
Kyle Busch +900
Dale Earnhardt Jr +1100
Denny Hamlin +1150
Ryan Blaney +1250
Clint Bowyer +1250
Ricky Stenhouse Jr +1250
Joey Logano +1350
Kyle Larson +1350
Kevin Harvick +1350
Martin Truex Jr +1350
Jimmie Johnson +1350
Matt Kenseth +1500
Kurt Busch +1650
Chase Elliott +1650
Jamie McMurray +2500
Erik Jones +3000
Kasey Kahne +3300
Ryan Newman +3300
Daniel Suarez +3300
Austin Dillon +3300
Aric Almirola +4400
Trevor Bayne +4400
Paul Menard +5500
Danica Patrick +7150
Chris Buescher +7150
AJ Allmendinger +8800
David Ragan +8800
Ty Dillon +11500
Michael McDowell +11500
Joey Gase +11500
Brendan Gaughan +13500
Matt DiBenedetto +17500

Key stats to know for the Alabama 500 at Talladega

— The outside front row (second-place) starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (20) than any other starting position at Talladega. 

— The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Talladega was 36th, by Jeff Gordon in the spring of 2000.

— Kurt Busch leads the series among active drivers with the most Cup Series starts at Talladega without visiting victory lane at 33; followed by Ryan Newman with 31.

Who are the sleepers to win the NASCAR race at Talladega?

There are plenty of sleepers to win at restrictor-plate tracks and one of our favorites is a restrictor-plate king.  Jamie McMurray has four wins at Talladega and Daytona, but ‘Dega is his better of the two tracks. McMurray, who needs a win to secure a spot in the Round of 8, has eight top fives, and nine top 10s, in his career at the Alabama track. 

Clint Bowyer has a respectable six top-10 finishes at Daytona and Talladega since the 2015 season which includes a year spent with an underfunded race team. 

Similarly, Austin Dillon has five top 10s and a better driver rating than Bowyer at restrictor-plate tracks since the start of the 2015 season. 

Which drivers are best for fantasy NASCAR in Talladega?

At longer tracks such as Talladega, leading laps aren't as important in fantasy as place-differential is. Drivers who qualify near the end of the 40-car field have the most upside but also have higher risk for crashes due to traffic. Michael McDowell, Cole Whitt and David Ragan are great buy-low options. 

Brad Keselowski is one of the top drivers in the Cup Series at Talladega. In 17 career starts there, he owns four wins, six top fives, 10 top 10s and a 14.9 average finish.

Co-favorite Kyle Busch has had positive place-differential in six of the past seven Talladega races and was in position for a win earlier this season before a late caution.

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