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NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 Betting Preview and Race Guide

While we continue to await the return of most sports and leagues, the NASCAR season just keeps on rolling on. This weekend, the action heads to Talladega Superspeedway with the running of the Geico 500. This is you GEICO 500 betting preview.

The race will also mark the first one with fans, since the restart following the COVID-19 shutdown. NASCAR is allowing up to 5,000 fans and 44 motor homes at the Alabama track this weekend.

The racing speeds at Talladega are the fastest of any track on the NASCAR circuit. Restrictor plate racing is some of the most exciting to watch, and Sunday’s race figures to be a treat.

Aric Almirola
Credit: Nick Was/AP Photo

GEICO 500 Betting Info

Location: Talladega, AL
Date: Sunday, June 21, 2020
Start Time: 3 p.m. ET
Length: 500 miles (188 laps)
Stages: Stage 1 Laps 1-55; Stage 2 Laps 56-110; Stage 3 Laps 111-188
Pole Sitter: Martin Truex Jr.
Defending Champion: Chase Elliott

GEICO 500 Driver Stats

Denny Hamlin comes into Talladega red hot after a dominant performance in last week’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Hamlin won both stages and the race. The win was his third of the 2020 season and the most among all Cup Series drivers. The result also marks the first time this season that a driver has won both stages and taken the checkered flag to win the race. Hamlin does have a strong history at superspeedway tracks as well, including his Daytona 500 victory earlier this year and a 2014 Geico 500 triumph. He will be one to watch again this weekend.

Hamlin’s dominance at Miami naturally translated to a sizable advantage in terms of laps led. His total of 137 was well ahead of the other three drivers to lead double digit circuits in 3rd place finisher Ryan Blaney (70), runner-up Chase Elliott (27), and pole-sitter Joey Logano (27). Hamlin may have gotten the win, but Elliott’s finish cannot be ignored. Aside from a 22nd place finish at Bristol (which only came as the result of a wreck as he raced for the lead in the final laps), Elliott has finished in the top-10 in five of the last six races. That includes four top-5 finishes and a win at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Ryan Blaney has also proven to have a fast car on numerous occasions. He has led the most laps this season of any driver yet to reach victory lane with.

Updated lists of several notable driver statistics are below.

Top 5 Finishes in 2020

6 – Ryan Blaney, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick

5 – Brad Keselowski

3 – Kurt Busch, Joey Logano

2 – Alex Bowman, Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Martin Truex Jr.

1 – Seven Drivers Tied

Laps Led in 2020

  1. Kevin Harvick-542
  2. Joey Logano-480
  3. Chase Elliott-422
  4. Alex Bowman-369
  5. Denny Hamlin-359
  6. Brad Keselowski-352
  7. Martin Truex Jr.-315
  8. Ryan Blaney-245
  9. Clint Bowyer-139
  10. Kyle Busch-123

Average Finishing Position in 2020

(Drivers with full time Cup Series status)

  1. Kevin Harvick-8.0
  2. Brad Keselowski-8.9
  3. Denny Hamlin-10.7
  4. Kurt Busch-11.3
  5. Chase Elliott-11.3
  6. Joey Logano-12.1
  7. Kyle Busch-12.2
  8. Ryan Blaney-13.4
  9. Martin Truex Jr.-13.8
  10. Matt DiBenedetto-14.9

Average Finishing Position at Talladega

(Drivers with 4+ starts at the track)

  1. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.-11.6
  2. Chase Elliott-13.3
  3. Ty Dillon-13.5
  4. Aric Almirola-15.4
  5. Kurt Busch-15.5
  6. Brad Keselowski-16.0
  7. Kevin Harvick-16.1
  8. Joey Logano-16.2
  9. Clint Bowyer-16.3
  10. Daniel Suarez-17.3

Driver Rating in 2020

Driver Ratings for GEICO 500
Credit: Motor Racing Network

*The Driver Rating formula combines Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps and Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum score per race is 150 points*

Talladega Superspeedway Overview

With a length of 2.66 miles, Talladega Superspeedway is the longest oval-shaped track on the NASCAR circuit. The track’s length and banking play right into its status as a “superspeedway”. Talladega is home to the fastest recorded time by a NASCAR vehicle on a closed oval course (216.309 mph by Rusty Wallace in 2004). For safety reasons, NASCAR instituted a rule that all cars must run with restrictor plate packages to cap speeds. Talladega joins Daytona International Speedway as the only two NASCAR tracks that run under restrictor plate rules. Along with a slightly longer track length, Talladega differs from Daytona in its greater width. It is not uncommon to see several lanes of drafting happening side by side.

Talladega Superspeedway Betting Trends

Due to the restrictor plate packages in all the cars, Talladega races are known for their parity and unpredictability. Strategy, timing, and positioning are keys to victory at the Alabama track more so than any other on the NASCAR circuit. Given the tight racing and drafting that takes place, drivers must also avoid getting caught up in a wreck.

The nature of superspeedway races makes them tougher to bet than other tracks. Looking for drivers with good superspeedway track records and who offer betting value is the best way to go. Concerning “Dega” specifically, Brad Keselowski has been the top driver with 5 victories. Joey Logano is not far behind with 3. Team Penske, home to both Keselowski and Logano, has seen its drivers consistently have strong showings at Talladega across the board. With restrictor plate racing affording even the lower-budget teams a great chance at victory, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Aric Almirola, Michael McDowell, and Ty Dillon are among the sleepers to watch.

GEICO 500 Best Bets

Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

Race Winner: Aric Almirola | +2000

With the restrictor plate package ensuring parity throughout the field, Aric Almirola is my pick to win Sunday’s Geico 500. He comes into the race ranking fourth among active Cup Series drivers with an average finishing position of 15.4 at the superspeedway. Spanning the last seven races at Talladega, Almirola has finished in the top-10 in every single one. This includes a win in the 2018 fall race. Almirola also ranks 13th in driver rating and in points for the 2020 season, showing that the No. 10 race team has not had a bad season to date by any stretch. He has proven that he knows how to work the drafting strategy and position himself for a great finishing result. His 20-1 odds are the 10th shortest on the board, suggesting that he is none to be taken lightly while also still providing great value for GEICO 500 betting.

Other Picks

Manufacturer of Winning Car: Ford | +115

Team of Race Winner: Team Penske | +325

Top 10 Finish: Aric Almirola | +105

Best Finishing Position Matchup: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (vs. Clint Bowyer) | -115

Top 5 Finish: Ryan Blaney Yes | +220

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