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Sunday’s race will be contested over 188 laps (500.08 miles), with stage breaks after 60 and 120 laps. Brad Keselowski is the defending winner of this event.
According to oddsmakers, 11 drivers are more likely than William Byron to win Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. That’s a mistake.
At Talladega specifically, Byron finished fourth in the fall race of 2020 and second in the spring race of 2021 before crashing out of last year’s rain-shortened Playoff race two laps short of the finish.
Byron is an adept, fearless superspeedway racer. His maiden victory in the Cup Series came in the summer race at Daytona in 2026, and more recently, he won earlier this month at the newly repaved Atlanta Motor Speedway, where NASCAR employed a superspeedway competition package for the first time.
Byron is the only competitor in the Cup Series with more than one victory so far this season in what could be a breakout year for the driver of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. We think he’s grossly undervalued this week and recommends a bet on Byron to win at +1800 via DraftKings Sportsbook.
And based on his recent record at Talladega, we think he’s also a good bet to finish in the top three (+500) and top five (+225) on Sunday.
Ryan Blaney has won a series-best three pole position in the NASCAR Cup Series this season, and he’s favored to add another to his resume during Saturday’s qualifying for the GEICO 500.
But that’s something Blaney might not want to do, based on the recent history of pole winners at Talladega. Only three times this century has a driver won from the top starting position at NASCAR’s mammoth track—Jeff Gordon in 2007, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in 2017 and Denny Hamlin in 2020.
Blaney won back-to-back races at Talladega in the fall of 2019 and spring of 2020, the last two events in a 10-race stretch in which Ford drivers won nine times. He’s an attractively priced favorite at +1000 (DraftKings)—if he doesn’t win the pole! So bear that in mind.
One interesting aspect of Talladega’s history is the number of drivers who have claimed their lone career victory there.
Richard Brickhouse, Dick Brooks, Lennie Pond, Ron Bouchard, Bobby Hillin Jr. and Phil Parsons all were one-hit wonders at Talladega and never notched another victory anywhere else in NASCAR top series.
Parsons (1988) was the last of the one-and-done drivers, but Talladega nevertheless has continued to produce some unlikely winners over the years. Given that history, if you’re inclined to back an extreme long shot, we offer for your consideration—Noah Gragson (+10000 via DraftKings).
Gragson has never raced in the Cup Series at Talladega, but in six Xfinity Series starts there, he has posted two top-fives and four top 10s, with a best finish of third in 2020.
Gragson is driving the No. 62 Beard Motorsports Chevrolet, a car that has been competitive at superspeedways in the recent past (seventh and eighth in its last two runs at Daytona in 2020, with Brendan Gaughan behind the wheel).
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|GEICO 500 Information|
|Race||GEICO 500 NASCAR Cup Series race|
|Time||Sunday, April 24, 3 p.m. ET|
|How to Watch||FOX|
Award-winning motorsports writer Reid Spencer has served as lead writer for the NASCAR Wire Service for 16 years, having also spent a four-year stint as NASCAR columnist and beat writer for Sporting News. He is currently serving as president of the National Motorsports Press Association. Email: [email protected]More info on Reid Spencer
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