thrTRACK: Talladega Superspeedway (2.66-mile Oval) DISTANCE: 188 Laps – STAGE 1/2 (55 Laps each), FINAL STAGE 78 LAPS 500.08 Miles)
WEATHER: RAIN 10%, 91 degrees high and sunny
Joey Logano (+800)
Should be the overall favorite. Logano, has six top five finishes in his last 10 tries on superspeedway’s including being very strong at Talladega. His last five Talladega finishes have been fourth, first, fifth, fourth and 11th respectively. He won the spring race in 2018 and has led at least 10 laps in six of those seven races as well.
He’s even been good at Talladega in the XFINITY Series in scoring seven top three finishes in eight tries, two of which being wins and three more being runner-ups.
Also, since 2015, Logano has five wins and four runner-ups on superspeedway’s in NASCAR’s premiere series.
Chase Elliott (+900)
Can’t ignore him in the spring race. While Elliott has one top 10 in four Fall Talladega starts, he does have three top fives in four spring races as well including a win just last year.
Brad Keselowski (+1,000)
While he’s always a favorite, his superspeedway stats have diminished. Still, Keselowski is a five-time Talladega winner and has the capability of winning any time there.
Denny Hamlin (+1,000)
While Toyota’s are certainly outnumbered, Hamlin has four top six finishes in his last seven Talladega starts. He’s won each of the last two Daytona 500’s. Worth a risk.
Betting long shots
Ryan Blaney (+1,200)
He won the last time out at Talladega and was second back in February at Daytona. Blaney, is strong on superspeedway’s and will be a factor on Sunday.
Kurt Busch (+1,600)
He’s scored six top 10 finishes in his last nine Talladega starts including eighth, sixth, second and sixth respectively in his last four spring race starts there.
Aric Almirola (+1,600)
Probably the top sleeper. Almirola, was ninth and fourth respectively in the two Talladega race last year. Furthermore, he has seven straight top 10’s there including a win in the 2018 playoff race.
Alex Bowman (+2,000)
He finished second to Elliott in this race a year ago and was eighth in the spring race before that too. Also, he looked fast last spring before wrecking while running up front.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+2,000)
The Daytona 500 pole sitter has a chance to earn his first victory in nearly two years. Stenhouse, has three top 10 finishes in his last four Dega starts and is driving a car that finished well with AJ Allmendinger in it too. Allmendinger, had three top 10 finishes in four superspeedway starts in 2018. Ryan Preece drove it to an eighth place run in last year’s Daytona 500. This may be a car to beat when it’s all said and done.
Ty Dillon (+6,600)
He’s a big sleeper on superspeedway’s. Dillon, was sixth and fourth respectively at Daytona in 2019. He was 17th and 10th at Talladega. In fact, in six Talladega starts, he’s finished outside the top 15 just once.
Corey LaJoie (+15,000)
In his last four superspeedway starts, LaJoie hasn’t finished worst than 11th. In fact, he was 11th in this very race last year and seventh in the fall event. In the season opening Daytona 500, LaJoie brought his No. 32 Ford home eighth.
GEICO 500 Race Preview
Everything about Talladega is unpredictable. It’s a wildcard race and will be ran like one on Sunday. Can Ford continue their recent superspeedway dominance including winning nine of the last 10 on the 2.66-mile Alabama race track? If so, will a Penske driver be the one celebrating victory on Sunday evening? Penske, has won two of the last four spring races at Talladega including five of six in the fall race as well. Ford, went 1-2-4-5 in the fall race last October which was won by Penske’s Ryan Blaney.
We know manufacturers are going to work together, so don’t expect much games being played outside of their respective car makes. Toyota is at a disadvantage because of that and haven’t won a race since 2009 at Talladega and just three there overall.
Then, at the end, we should see a wild shootout tandem style?
Will it be a first time winner celebrating? 6 of the last 11 superspeedway race winners in Cup competition have earned either their first or second career victories in them. But, 4 of the last 6 at Talladega and 5 of the last 7 at Daytona, saw drivers won their first or second superspeedway race on them too.
This is all a very unpredictable race that will be fun to watch it play out.
Stat To Watch
Normally starting position shouldn’t matter for a superspeedway race, but for some reason, it has at Talladega. Six straight winners have come from the the top 11 and 10 in the last 11 overall.
Also, no one has swept both Cup races at Talladega in the same season though since Jeff Gordon in 2007. Dale Earnhardt Jr. did so in 2002 as well. Only three times has it happened since 1990 too. So, don’t expect Sunday’s winner to comeback and win the playoff race this Fall.
They Said It
“The first of which is slowing the cars down,” said John Probst in regards to changes made to the superspeedway package between Daytona in February and Talladega now. “The second bucket would be to reduce the likelihood of tandem drafting. The third bucket I have listed is sort of the car 6 investigation findings. That’s as much meant to cover things that were seen on the actual investigation as we looked at the 6 car itself. Some of those topics, if they’re on there, don’t necessarily mean there was an issue but may have drawn our attention to the importance of that particular part piece system working in the manner intended.
“Then also just cleaning up some of the emerging trends of development that may or may not affect some of the findings we found of systems we deem critical for safety but now also may have through just the course of development having other potential applications.
“When you look at the goal of slowing the cars down, obviously the restriction from 59 64ths to 57 64th is an expected horsepower loss of somewhere between 35 and 40 horsepower, which general rule of thumb the teams use is 30 horsepower per second. With the 40 horsepower, we’d expect the cars to slow down by over a second compared to what they would have run.
“As far as reducing the likelihood of tandem drafting, the elimination of the aero ducts at the superspeedway tracks were removed to try to mitigate the likelihood that cars could tandem draft. Then also the reduction of the power would likely reduce the likelihood of tandem as well.”