NASCAR Pre-Race Media: Sunday’s YellaWood 500 (2 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN) race trends, favs, sleepers, fades, etc

TRACK: Talladega Superspeedway (2.66-mile oval). DISTANCE: 500 Laps — STAGE 1: 60 Laps, STAGE 2: 60 Laps, FINAL STAGE: 68 Laps, MILES (500.08 Miles)

The spring race has been around since 1970 but the Fall race was the 1st race ever here at Talladega on Sept. 14, 1969. This year will mark the 106th and 107th races on the high speed Alabama superspeedway.

  • The last 2 winners each started 19th. Starting spots of winners for superspeedway’s race this (5th, 21st Daytona, 19th Talladega). Atlanta was 12th and 1st.
  • 13 of the previous 14 races prior to Wallace’s win last year were won by the top 6 Rows.
  • Only 2 pole winners (Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 2017, Denny Hamlin 2020) won in the last 35 Cup races at Talladega. Those are the only 2 front row starters to win since the playoff race of 2011 (22 races). Previously, 5 of the 13 races before were won by front row starters.
  • Ford has won 10 of the last 14 overall Cup races at Talladega
  • Toyota has won the last 2 Fall races but has only won 3 times in the last 27 races overall. 2 of which were won by Denny Hamlin.
  • Chevrolet has won 4 of the 5 superspeedway races this season all by different drivers (Byron, Elliott at Atlanta, Dillon at Daytona, Chastain at Talladega).
  • Just 3 of the last 8 races ended at the scheduled distance. 3 of the last 5 went into overtime with the other rain shortened.
  • At Talladega though, just 8 times since 1995 has a driver earned their first or second career wins there.
  • Wallace last year was the12th driver to pick up his 1st career win at Talladega joining Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2017), Brad Keselowski (2009), Brian Vickers (2006), Ken Schrader (1988), Phil Parsons (1988), Davey Allison (1987), Bobby Hillin Jr. (1986), Ron Bouchard (1981), Lennie Pond (1978), Dick Brooks (1973) and Richard Brickhouse (1969).
  • 10 of the last 16 superspeedway race winners in Cup competition have earned either their first or second career victories. Michael McDowell won his first career race at Daytona last February and Bubba Wallace at Talladega last Fall. Ross Chastain won his 2nd career race at Talladega this past April.
  • 6 straight years now a driver scored their 1st or 2nd career superspeedway win at Talladega. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. started it in the Spring of 2017, followed by Aric Almirola in the Fall of 2018, Chase Elliott in the Spring of 2019, then Ryan Blaney did so in the Fall of 2019 and Spring 2020 race while Bubba Wallace did it last Fall and Chastain this spring.
  • Since the win and advance format was introduced to the sport in 2014, the playoff race has always been won by an existing playoff driver with the exception of last year. They’re 7-for-8.
  • 6 times has a non-playoff driver won the NASCAR Cup Series’ playoff race at Talladega. It first occurred in 2005 with Dale Jarrett. It happened again a year later (2006) with Brian Vickers. Then we saw it twice in 2009 and again in 2013 with Jamie McMurray as well as 2011 with Clint Bowyer and last year with Bubba Wallace. Only Wallace is in Cup anymore.
  • The last four Talladega playoff winners were outside the top eight in the playoff standings entering Talladega including Wallace not even being in the playoffs last year.

Live Betting

  • Just 1 in the last 5 Talladega races has seen the eventual winner scoring stage points in the opening stage.
  • However, in 3 of the last 4 races, the winner actually finished 2nd in Stage 2. Chastain finished 9th in the 2nd stage back in April. Furthermore, since 2017 (the start of stage race) we’ve had 10 races at Talladega. The eventual race winner finished 2nd in the 2nd stage 5 times.
  • In the first stage, they had 5 top 4 finishes in the first 6 tries but since? Just 1 top 10 (6th in Spring 2020).
  • For Daytona/Talladega this year, the race winner scored 0 points in Stage 1.
  • For Daytona/Talladega this year, the race winner was 6th, 9th, 10th respectively in Stage 2.
  • Neither race winner this year led any laps in the first 2 stages. Austin Cindric led all 21 of his laps in the Daytona 500 in the final stage. Chastain led just the final lap here in April while Austin Dillon led all 10 of his laps in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 in the final stage too.
  • 2 of the 4 superspeedway races last year saw the race winner lead only the final lap (McDowell Daytona 500, Brad Keselowski here in April 2021). Bubba Wallace only led the final 5 laps here last Fall as well meaning each of the last 3 Talladega races did the winner lead laps only in the end.

TALLADEGA, ALABAMA – APRIL 25: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 MoneyLion Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 25, 2021 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Favorites

William Byron (+1200)

He has 3 top 11 finishes in his last 5 starts at Talladega including a runner-up finish in the spring of 2021. He was 15th this past spring.

Joey Logano (+1200)

He has five top five finishes in his last 10 Talladega starts and is a three-time Talladega winner in his last 14 tries too. What I don’t like is that his finishes on superspeedway’s this season are 21st, 9th, 32nd, 26th and 12th respectively. However, he enters this weekend on the heels of a runner-up finish last week in Texas too though.

Ryan Blaney (+1200)

He has won 2 of his last 6 Talladega starts to go along with a Daytona win in last year’s regular season finale. He’s become one of the best superspeedway racers in the sport and coming off of a 4th place run last Sunday.

Austin Cindric (+1500)

He won the season opening Daytona 500 and driving a car that’s won 6 times here. Cindric also was 3rd in Atlanta 2 and 3rd in the return trip to Daytona back in August for 3 top 3 finishes on 5 superspeedway package starts this year.

Bubba Wallace (+1800)

He won here last year, was runner-up in this past year’s Daytona 500 too. If he can stay out of trouble, the odds are good for a win on Sunday.

Sleepers

Brad Keselowski (+2000)

You always go with Brad on a superspeedway race. He’s won six times at Talladega, including last spring of 2021. He was also runner-up last Fall too. RFK Racing’s last two wins also came on superspeedway’s so this could be a good omen this weekend. His 1st Cup win came here as a driver, so why not his first Cup win as an owner too?

Austin Dillon (+2500)

He was 2nd here in the spring and coming off of a Daytona win in August.

Erik Jones (+3000)

He had a top 5 car in February’s Daytona 500, he was leading the spring race late before being shuffled from the lead to 6th on the final lap this past April as well as finishing 4th in Atlanta 2.

Aric Almirola (+3000)

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver has eight top 10 finishes in his last 12 starts at Talladega including five of which in the top five. He won there in the Fall of 2018, was fourth and spun across the finish line to a third place result in June of 2020.

Michael McDowell (+4000)

He won the Daytona 500 in 2021, was 3rd in the 2021 spring race here to go along with being 7th in the Daytona 500 this year and 8th in the Talladega spring race as well.


Who To Fade?

Denny Hamlin (+1200)

He can win at any given time on a superspeedway, but for his odds and having no top 10’s in 5 superspeedway starts this season give me reason to pause. He was only 32nd and 7th last year and 18th this year so far….

Kyle Larson (+1200)

This past spring was his 1st and only Talladega top 5 finish. He’s only 1-for-34 for top 5’s on superspeedway’s. In fact, his last 5 finishes at Talladega are 39th, 40th, 40th, 37th and 4th respectively. 5 of his last 8 results are 39th or worse.

Chase Elliott (+1200)

He’s not had a top 10 in any of his six Fall races at the track. His finishes are 12th, 16th, 31st, eighth, 22nd and 18th respectively.

Tyler Reddick (+1500)

He won an Xfinity Series race at ‘Dega as well as having two straight seventh place finishes on the 2.66-mile track before being 39th last Fall. While he was 39th again this spring, he did finish runner-up at Daytona back in August. But coming off of a win, can he really win two straight?

Ross Chastain (+1500)

Talladega Sweeps:

2007 – Jeff Gordon

2002 – Dale Earnhardt Jr.

1999 – Dale Earnhardt

1990 – Dale Earnhardt

1982 – Darrell Waltrip

1975 – Buddy Baker

To only happen four times in the last 38 years doesn’t bode well for Ross Chastain to win again this weekend. In fact, while he has 3 top 2 finishes in 5 superspeedway starts this season, 2 of the 3 were at Atlanta. He was 40th and 33rd respectively at Daytona.

Kyle Busch (+1800)

Not one of his better races. Busch’s last eight finishes in the Fall Talladega race have been 11th or worse including his last six being 30th, 27th, 26th, 19th, 27th and 27th respectively. He was 32nd, 18th and 3rd in the last three spring races too. He’s also not had a top 5 finish on the season since June 5 either.

Christopher Bell (+1800)

He’s finished 34th, 23rd, 22nd, 19th and 36th on these tracks this season.

Martin Truex Jr. (+2000)

He’s had 2 top five finishes at Talladega since 2007. His last 10 finishes there are 40th, 35th, 23rd, 26th, 23rd, 20th, 24th, 23rd, 31st, 12th and 5th respectively.

Alex Bowman (+2000)

His Fall race finishes are 33rd, 37th, 14th and 38th. He was 38th in the spring race of 2021 and 9th this past spring. At Daytona he finished 24th and 14th this year too.

Kevin Harvick (+2000)

He’s only had two top five finishes in his last 21 Talladega starts. While he was fourth and eighth at Talladega last year, he’s had finishes of 30th, 21st, 10th, 12th and 20th on these types of tracks this year.

Daniel Suarez (+2500)

His 2 Atlanta finishes this year were 4th and 6th. His 3 combined Daytona and Talladega results are 18th, 31st and 24th respectively.

Chris Buescher (+3000)

While he was 6th in the spring race here in 2020, his superspeedway finishes this season are 16th, 7th, 38th, 33rd and 27th respectively.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+4000)

Almost always a superspeedway threat. Stenhouse Jr. was runner-up in the 2020 spring race. He was ninth in the Fall race in 2019 too. However, he’s struggled on these tracks as of late with finishes of 28th, 31st, 30th, 31st and 22nd this season.

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