It was no secret coming into the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, it was no secret that the Round of 12 had the potential to be the most chaotic and unpredictable. The main reason for that is the track on tap for this Sunday: Talladega Superspeedway. While predicting what will happen in the YellaWood 500 won’t be easy, several drivers and teams have proven to have a knack for running well at the superspeedways. The stats and trends from previous races will be our best friend when breaking down the odds and deciding on NASCAR betting picks for this week.
The following article offers a breakdown of the NASCAR odds and best NASCAR betting picks for Sunday afternoon’s YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
YellaWood 500 Race Info
52nd YellaWood 500
Date: Sunday, October 3, 2021
Start Time: 2 p.m. EST
Track: Talladega Superspeedway — Lincoln, AL
Distance: 500.08 miles
Stages: Three (Laps 1-60; 61-120; 121-188)
Pole Sitter: Denny Hamlin
Defending Champion: Denny Hamlin
YellaWood 500 NASCAR Betting Odds
After picking up his second win in the last four races at Las Vegas last week, Denny Hamlin (+900) is the odds-on favorite to go back-to-back this Sunday. Along with clearly having momentum on his side, Hamlin is an accomplished superspeedway racer. In fact, he is the defending YellaWood 500 champion from a year ago. Admittedly, the majority of his superspeedway success has come at sister track Daytona International Speedway, where Hamlin has won the prestigious Daytona 500 on three different occasions. However, Hamlin’s Talladega stats are among the best of any driver.
The Geico 500 spring race did not go well for the No. 11 team, but Hamlin had scored three consecutive top-5 finishes at Talladega prior to that. His average finish of 11.4 over the last ten includes six top-10s and eight top-15s. He may not have much help from his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates when it comes to drafting, but expect Hamlin to be a factor once again this Sunday.
Talladega’s Impact on the Race Lines
For those who have been following along with the NASCAR betting odds on a weekly basis, you undoubtedly noticed a very different-looking menu this week. At +900, Denny Hamlin is on track to go off as the longest favorite for any race this season. Bettors have none other than Talladega Superspeedway itself to thank for that.
The tapered engine spacer (formerly restrictor plate) package that NASCAR runs at Talladega levels the playing field. The setup actually caps the amount of horsepower that the cars will have. So long as race teams have enough power under the hood to meet that maximum threshold, they will be able to keep up with the draft and ultimately have a shot to win.
With the level playing field offering so many more drivers a realistic chance to win, it makes sense that even those drivers considered to be the YellaWood 500 favorites have double-digit odds. Behind Hamlin, Joey Logano (+1000), Chase Elliott (+1000), Ryan Blaney (+1100) and William Byron (+1100) are the next four drivers in terms of shortest lines. All have double-digit odds to win the race outright.
Talladega Impact is Twofold
While the odds on the race favorites are longer than they normally would be at an intermediate track, the opposite is true for the typical longshots. Since the tapered spacer package gives nearly everyone a realistic chance, a triple-digit longshot any other week is typically only offering a 50-1 return or less this weekend.
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While the payout isn’t as high on any of the longshot drivers to win Sunday’s YellaWood 500, their chances of doing so are drastically improved compared to most other weeks. Several non-playoff drivers could very easily score a victory at ‘Dega this week. Among some of the notable names to monitor are Aric Almirola (+2000), Austin Dillon (+2500), Matt DiBenedetto (+2500), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+3000) and Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell (+4000).
YellaWood 500 NASCAR Betting Picks
YellaWood 500 Race Winner: William Byron (+1100)
William Byron was extremely fast at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Unfortunately, the amount of adversity Byron could rally back from did have a limit. From having to start the race at the rear to a pit road penalty, terrible strategy on the part of Hendrick Motorsports and even a flat tire, Byron dealt with it all last week. The resulting finish did not reflect how strong the No. 24 car was and also has him below the NASCAR Playoffs points cutline heading to Talladega.
On the bright side, Byron is among the best in the sport when it comes to superspeedway racing. He won the regular-season finale at Daytona last season and enters the YellaWood 500 with two consecutive top-5s at ‘Dega. After all of last week’s frustration, look for Byron to rebound and bolster his playoff chances in a big way on Sunday.
Other YellaWood 500 NASCAR Betting Picks
Top 5 Finish: Matt DiBenedetto (+350)
Rewind back to this spring’s Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway and Matt DiBenedetto was out in front as the field took the white flag. Unfortunately, he made the wrong decision to block the outside line and would go on to finish fifth. When it comes to racing at ‘Dega, however, not many do it better than the driver of the No. 21 car. On a personal level, DiBenedetto is among a handful of current drivers who still have no guaranteed ride for next season. What better way to remove all doubt from a prospective new boss than to go out and throw down another solid finish at ‘Dega? If he avoids “The Big One”, DiBenedetto has a great shot to nab a top-5 finish.
Best Finish is Group C: Aric Almirola (+290)
He may only have one victory at Talladega in his NASCAR Cup Series career, but no driver has proven to be more consistent at the 2.66-mile oval than Aric Almirola. Over the last ten races, Almirola has compiled an astounding average finish of 9.3. This includes a run of eight consecutive top-10s that was finally snapped in this race last year when he was an unlucky DNF.
Joining Almirola in this NASCAR betting Group C foursome are Kevin Harvick (+240), Alex Bowman (+260) and Kurt Busch (+290). Of the bunch, Busch has the most encouraging stats at Talladega after Almirola. Harvick’s success at superspeedways has declined over the years, while Bowman seems to either run very well or finish outside the top-30. Consistency can be rewarded in a group battle like this. Almirola certainly has the stats and superspeedway pedigree to warrant a ticket offering nearly a 3-1 return
Best Finish in Group E: Justin Haley (+300)
Among the many free agency changes that have shaped an exciting NASCAR Cup Series field for 2022 was the announcement that Justin Haley would drive full-time at the Cup level for Kaulig Racing. This weekend, he will forego his usual Spire Motorsports ride and race the part-time No. 16 Kaulig car, the same ride that Kaz Grala drove to a sixth-place finish at ‘Dega back in the spring.
Haley also has proven time and again that he knows how to maneuver the tapered spacer tracks as well as anyone. Most recently, he won the Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Speedway back in August. Along with Haley in this NASCAR betting Group E are Tyler Reddick (+250), Christopher Bell (+275) and Ross Chastain (+275). Given Kaulig’s equipment alliance with Richard Childress Racing, Haley and Reddick might actually be working together on Sunday. But when it comes to the odds to win this group, the value lies with Haley as the 3-1 longshot.
Team of Race Winner: Team Penske (+360)
Our final NASCAR betting picks recommendation for Sunday’s YellaWood 500 is actually a ticket on three drivers to win the race. The Team Penske trio of Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney work together better than any other race team on the superspeedways. In addition to winning five of the last seven YellaWood 500’s, Team Penske cars have also won four of the last six Geico 500’s, the spring race at ‘Dega.
Looking closer at the Talladega driver stats for the three Penske operators, we find each of Logano (14.0), Blaney (16.6) and Keselowski (18.2) among the best when it comes to average finish over the last ten races. When it comes down to it, all three of these drivers have a real shot to win Sunday’s race. To get all three under one umbrella at +360 NASCAR odds is an opportunity too good to pass up.