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YellaWood 500 Predictions: Brad Keselowski Has a Statistical Edge

Written by: Reid Spencer
Updated September 29, 2023
11 min read
  • It’s a crapshoot, with a broad field of potential winners at Talladega.
  • Denny Hamlin’s recent record on superspeedways is underwhelming.
  • Brad Keselowski is seeking his seventh victory on NASCAR’s biggest track.  

YellaWood 500 Betting Odds

Odds taken from DraftKings Sportsbook.


Brad Keselowski


Ryan Blaney


Chris Buescher


Denny Hamlin


Bubba Wallace


Joey Logano


Chase Elliott


William Byron


Kyle Larson


Kyle Busch


Ross Chastain


Our Picks for the YellaWood 500

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YellaWood 500 Predictions Nascar Cup Series

YellaWood 500 Predictions

Talladega Is a Crapshoot, with a Huge Field of Potential Winners

The conventional wisdom about Talladega Superspeedway invariably turns out to be true. Because NASCAR Cup cars with restricted engines race in large packs, the field of potential winners expands to include drivers who typically aren’t at the front of the field.

Not only that. Close-quarters racing almost always produces massive wrecks that sideline significant portions of the field—and eliminate favorites.

That’s why handicapping races on superspeedways is so difficult. And that’s why the favorite in Sunday’s YellaWood 500, Brad Keselowski, is offered at +900 by DraftKings Sportsbook, rather than at much tighter odds.

Historically, Talladega has produced more than its share of first-time winners, several of whom never won another race—among them Phil Parsons, Lennie Pond, Ron Bouchard, Dick Brooks and Bobby Hillin Jr.

So you might want to throw darts at a board to pick a winner here—with the proviso that you’ll see in the last section of this analysis.

Denny Hamlin’s Recent Record on Superspeedways Isn’t Spectacular

Among the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff drivers this season, no one has been consistently faster than Denny Hamlin.

In his last three starts—at Kansas, Bristol, and Texas—Hamlin has finished second, first, and fifth, making the driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota a likely choice to advance to the Playoffs’ Round of 8.

Hamlin is an adept superspeedway racer, having won the prestigious Daytona 500 three times, most among active drivers. That’s one reason why he’s among the top choices for Sunday’s race at +1300 via DraftKings.

But Hamlin’s record on superspeedways this season has been lackluster at best. He was 17th and 26th in two races at Daytona, sixth and 14th in two Atlanta races, and 17th in the spring event at Talladega.

That’s why we’re not backing Hamlin for the win on Sunday. And that’s why we’re picking Texas winner William Byron to beat Hamlin in a head-to-head matchup at -105 via DraftKings.  

Brad Keselowski Has a Statistical Edge at NASCAR’s Biggest Track

Everything we’ve said about Talladega is true. The pool of potential winners is enormous. The “Big One”—a massive wreck that wipes out a third of the field—is all but inevitable at NASCAR’s biggest oval.

But, more than any other driver, Brad Keselowski argues against the entropy and random nature of Talladega racing.

Keselowski has six Talladega victories on his resume, most among active drivers, and tied with Dale Earnhardt Jr. for second all-time (behind Dale Earnhardt Sr. with 10).

Driving for James Finch in 2009, Bad Brad picked up the first of his 35 NASCAR Cup wins at the 2.66-mile oval. Most recently, he won at Talladega in 2021.

Keselowski’s six victories defy statistical norms and suggest that the driver of the No. 6 Roush Fenway Keselowski Ford has a special knack for the mammoth track.

That’s why we’re picking him to win on Sunday at +900 via DraftKings.

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How to Watch the YellaWood 500

  • Race: YellaWood 500 NASCAR Cup Series race
  • Location: Talladega Superspeedway
  • Time: Sunday, Oct. 1, 2 p.m. ET
  • How to Watch: NBC
Image for Reid Spencer


Reid Spencer

221 Articles

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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