NASCAR at Talladega: Vegas odds, key stats, prediction, sleepers, fantasy drivers to watch
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,Â which sawÂ 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 27Â races at Daytona and Talladega, Ford has won 15Â of them in part to Team Penske and Roush Fenway Racing'sÂ success.Â
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won the July Daytona race and at Talladega earlier this season. Before that, JoeyÂ Logano took the checkered flag in the previous two fall races at Talladega while Brad KeselowskiÂ has combined with his Penske teammate to win four of the last sixÂ races at the Alabama track.Â
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 atÂ restrictor-plateÂ tracks since 2015, includingÂ 202 laps led and a 93.1 driver rating. We expect Hamlin to become aÂ Talladega Knight on Sunday.Â
We can't talk about Talladega withoutÂ mentioning Dale Earnhardt Jr.. Sundayâ€™sÂ race marks Junior'sÂ final race at the Talladega â€” his top track. Earnhardtâ€™s six wins at Talladega are tied with Jeff Gordonâ€™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'sÂ no surprise he is one of the favorites to win on Sunday (2 p.m. ET, NBC).Â
What are the Las Vegas odds for the NASCAR race at Talladega?
Here are the race odds according to 5Dimes:
Key stats to know for the Alabama 500 at Talladega
â€”Â 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.Â
â€”Â The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Talladega was 36th, byÂ Jeff GordonÂ in the spring of 2000.
â€”Â Kurt BuschÂ leads the series among active drivers with the mostÂ Cup Series starts at Talladega without visiting victory lane at 33; followed byÂ Ryan NewmanÂ 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 isÂ a restrictor-plate king.Â Jamie McMurray has four wins at Talladega and Daytona, butÂ â€˜Dega is his better of the two tracks.Â McMurray, who needs a win to secure a spot in the Round of 8, has eight top fives, and nineÂ top 10s, in his career at theÂ AlabamaÂ track.Â
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.Â
Similarly, Austin Dillon has five top 10s and a better driver rating thanÂ Bowyer atÂ restrictor-plateÂ tracksÂ since the start of the 2015 season.Â
Which drivers are best for fantasy NASCAR in Talladega?
At longer tracks such asÂ 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,Â Cole WhittÂ andÂ David RaganÂ are great buy-low options.Â
BradÂ KeselowskiÂ is one of the top drivers in theÂ Cup Series atÂ Talladega. In 17Â career starts there, he owns four wins, six top fives, 10 top 10s and a 14.9 average finish.
Co-favorite Kyle BuschÂ has had positive place-differential in six of the past sevenÂ Talladega races and was in position for a win earlier this season before a late caution.