NASCAR Best Bets: GEICO 500

NASCAR is back to superspeedway racing as the Cup Series heads to Talladega this Sunday (3 p.m. ET on FOX). At 2.66 miles, this is the biggest oval on which the series will race. Being a true drafting track, drivers will fan three-wide and race door-to-door as they look to avoid the dreaded “Big One.”

Superspeedway racing has evolved in NASCAR’s Next Gen era, and from 2022 on, these races have been more dictated by fuel mileage than a calamity of crashes. However, because of the extreme unpredictability that continues to surround this type of racing, it’s important to exercise caution when placing bets.

Though betting small this weekend, there are a few plays that I see value with pre-practice and qualifying. Let’s have a look (odds as of Wednesday, April 17).

Ford to win the race (+170)…finally

Ford has yet to reach victory lane in 2024, but they have arguably been the fastest manufacturer on superspeedways in the Next Gen era. The likes of Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski and others are some of the best at these tracks, and the blue ovals have been showing improved speed over the last several weeks.

If this race goes green and is a game of track position, do not be surprised to see Team Penske and RFK Racing leading the way. If they are running at the end, they will be as tough to pass as anyone.

Erik Jones Top Toyota (+900)

There are only eight Toyotas in the field, and I see the most value with Erik Jones to be the top finisher for this manufacturer. He has finished sixth or better in five of the last eight Talladega races and owns the fifth best average finish (11.3) here since 2022. Jones is also second to Ryan Blaney in laps led during that span, so the No. 43 is capable of finding clean air.

Legacy Motor Club has seen steady improvements in 2024 after making the switch from Chevrolet to Toyota. Look for Jones to find his way toward the front and capitalize on what could be the team’s best showing of the season so far.

Chase Elliott to win (+1200)

NASCAR’s most popular driver comes into the weekend fresh off of a win at Texas Motor Speedway that snapped a 42-race winless streak. He is my favorite non-Ford to win this race and the only outright play I am on for the weekend.

Elliott is a two-time Talladega winner and has been one of the top performers in the Next Gen car, ranking Top 2 in average finish, driver rating and average running position. Winning back-to-back races in the Cup Series is no easy task, but Elliott is capable in a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet with three-straight Top 5 finishes.

Enjoy the racing at ‘Dega.

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