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NASCAR Betting Picks for the YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway

by October 2, 2021
Denny Hamlin

The NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs continue this weekend with the second of three races in the Round of 12. It was no secret that this second round has the potential to be the most chaotic and unpredictable. The main reason for that is the track on tap for this Sunday: Talladega Superspeedway. Does anyone else already have chills in anticipation of this weekend’s action??

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Predicting what will happen in the YellaWood 500 won’t be easy, as is the case for all superspeedway races. However, several drivers and teams have proven to have a knack for running well in these events. The stats and trends from previous Talladega races will be our best friend when deciding on NASCAR betting picks for this week.

The following outlines some of the best NASCAR betting picks for Sunday afternoon’s YellaWood 500. Analysis of the top odds and picks to win outright is also included.

YellaWood 500 Best Bets

The following sections detail the top NASCAR betting picks for Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Top 5 Finish: Matt DiBenedetto (+350 at BetMGM)

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. This paved the way for Brad Keselowski to get a big run down low and go on to win the race. DiBenedetto remains winless on the season and failed to qualify for the NASCAR Playoffs as a result. When it comes to racing at ‘Dega, however, not many do it better than the driver of the No. 21 car. Even though the finishes haven’t always been there, DiBenedetto is a regular presence at the front of the pack down the stretch. If he stays out of trouble, he has a great shot to nab a top-5 finish.

On a personal level, DiBenedetto needs a race win down the stretch as much as any driver in the Cup Series. It has already been announced that he will not return to drive the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford next year. As a result, 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 score a win? As a pseudo-teammate to Team Penske, DiBenedetto figures to have plenty of help on Sunday. In addition to Keselowski winning the spring Talladega race, Penske drivers have won five of the last seven editions of the YellaWood 500. And even if he doesn’t cross the line first, simply sticking with his corporate teammates will likely put DiBenedetto in a position to finish top-5.

Best Finish in Group C: Aric Almirola (+290 at DraftKings

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 very race last year when he was a DNF. While his 15th-place showing back in April was underwhelming, so wasn’t the vast majority of Almirola’s 2021 season. A win at New Hampshire was the only reason he got into the NASCAR Playoffs. Despite running a solid first round, the No. 10 team came up short on advancing. Perhaps that’s a good thing as far as this weekend as Almirola faces zero playoff pressure.

Almirola is tied for the longest NASCAR betting odds to win Group C this week along with veteran Kurt Busch (+290). Group favorite Kevin Harvick (+240) and Alex Bowman (+260) are both still alive in the playoffs. 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.

Team of Race Winner: Team Penske (+360 at DraftKings)

Normally, we don’t talk about race winners until the second portion of this NASCAR betting column. However, Talladega Superspeedway is simply a different animal. Therefore, our final best bet for Sunday’s YellaWood 500 is actually a ticket on three drivers to win the race. We alluded to the success of Team Penske at Talladega when discussing pseudo-teammate Matt DiBenedetto above. The 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 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 at Talladega. By no means is Team Penske’s superspeedway success exclusive to the Alabama track, however. The Fords have also been among the class of the field in recent years at Daytona International Speedway. Most recently, Blaney scored the win in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 back in August. 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 odds is an opportunity too good for bettors to pass up.

NASCAR Betting Odds to Win | Talladega

The table below offers a comparison of the NASCAR betting odds to win the YellaWood 500 across three major U.S. sportsbooks. The top 30 drivers in terms of odds are included.

Favorite: Denny Hamlin (+950 at FanDuel)

After picking up his second win in the last four races last week, Denny Hamlin is the odds-on favorite to go back-to-back on Sunday. Along with clearly having momentum on his side, Hamlin is an accomplished superspeedway racer. In fact, he is the defending YellaWood 500 champion. While the majority of his success has come at sister track Daytona International Speedway, Hamlin’s Talladega stats are among the best of any driver. The spring race did not go well for the No. 11 team, but Hamlin had scored three consecutive top-5 finishes prior to that. His average finish of 11.4 over the last ten races includes six top-10s and eight top-15s. He may not have much help from teammates when it comes to drafting, but expect Hamlin to be a factor this Sunday.

Value Bet: William Byron (+1300 at FanDuel)

Among our featured NASCAR betting picks last week was a top-3 finish for William Byron. The No. 24 car was extremely fast at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as expected. 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 his car was and also has him on the outside of the top-8 in points. Fortunately, 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, Byron will look to rebound on Sunday.

Longshot Hopeful: Austin Dillon (+3200 at FanDuel)

Speaking of drivers who have proven themselves at the superspeedways in the past, how about Austin Dillon? For starters, he drives the No. 3 car, made famous by the late Dale Earnhardt who finished his legendary career with seven victories in the YellaWood 500.

That being said, Dillon has promising stats of his own to make him worth considering this week as a 25-1 shot. His average finish over the last ten races at Talladega is 20.5. While that may seem very mediocre, it has Dillon well within the upper half of the field. Such is the nature of superspeedways! Dillon was 12th in this race last year and also finished eighth here this spring. He also is a former Daytona 500 winner as well. While his stats have been stronger at Daytona than ‘Dega, he knows how to maneuver in the draft as well as anyone. He’ll have a strong group of teammates and pseudo-teammates to work with on Sunday as well.

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Henry John is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Henry, check out his archive and follow him @HankTimeSports.

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