Don’t say you weren’t warned. This season has been something else, and that’s being kind to NASCAR. It was clear in January that the Next Gen car was not ready. What followed was chaos and unexpected winners. If you’re late to the party, don’t worry because races are only becoming more unpredictable and drivers with long odds are more and more viable. As always, trust the spreadsheet but also trust your eyes. Here are the best bets for the NASCAR Cup Series YellaWood 500 at Talladega, which gets underway Sunday, October 2 at 2 p.m. ET.
Not long ago — last season and every season before — Talladega was one of the tracks where it was wise for bettors to chase long odds. In 2022 with the Next Gen jalopy, every week is Talladega. So what does that make Talladega? Just look at some of the winning bets from Daytona. Some bettors took home six-digit wins by parlaying all of the small team drivers starting in the back.
The Talladega fall race typically does not feature the same chaos as the Daytona summer race. Typically doesn’t mean anything in 2022. The Next Gen car is a mess and Talladega can be just as hairy as this summer’s Daytona dumpster fire, or it can settle for just crazy enough. It does not take much chaos for long shots to pay off at a plate track or super speedway, whatever the kids are calling them these days.
Race Winner — Yellawood 500
Austin Dillon (+2000)
He made the cut for the Best Bets article for the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona and he won the race as a +3000 long shot. Dillon has two Cup Series wins and an Xfinity Series win at Daytona. He also has a 2018 Michigan Xfinity Series win, This race employed an experimental low horsepower package that made Michigan a plate race of sorts.
Brad Keselowski (+2500)
His car will have enough power. Keselowski has the talent and the experience. He also has motivation. In the Daytona 500, Keselowski was +1400 in the same equipment with the same skill. In that race, Keselowski had more to lose — although he did not race that way. This is a checkers-or-wreckers race and it is very likely Keselowski’s last chance for a win this season.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+4000)
His plate track finishes over the last handful of seasons have not been great. That might matter for DFS, but when betting winners, only first place matters. The likelihood of a Stenhouse win isn’t great, but that’s the same across the board for everyone. When he won at Talladega and Daytona, he was not the favorite. No one trusts him now and no one trusted him then.
Erik Jones (+4000)
The Petty cars have always been competitive at the plate tracks. Almirola won a rain-shortened race at Daytona, but he was always a contender. Bubba Wallace nearly won a couple plate races in the No. 43 car. Jones has plate track wins with JGR, and he has a top-10 finish in the last two Talladega races. If Erik Jones has a legit shot, then his Petty-GMS teammate, Ty Dillon (+20,000), is worth considering.
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Race Winner — Yellawood 500
Aric Almirola (+4000)
This doesn’t make any sense. Several years ago, Almriola had the longest top-10 streak at Talladega ever. There is a lot of luck involved in plate racing, but it’s hard to argue that eight consecutive top-10 finishes at Talladega is luck. There is some skill there. His SHR Ford is going to be fine. He did not forget how to drive at a plate track. These odds are too long.
Ty Gibbs (+10,000)
Can’t bet a rookie? Austin Cindric won the Daytona 500. Cindric won an Xfinity Series plate-track race before winning the opening race of his Cup Series rookie campaign. Ty Gibbs won the first Xfinity Series plate-track race (super speedway) at Atlanta.
Corey Lajoie (+20,000)
He’s cooled off lately, but he nearly won at Atlanta. Lajoie will likely patiently cruise in the back and hope to avoid the chaos. Then late in the race, he will make his move. Top-5 finishes are nice for Lajoie and his small team, but they’ve done that before. It’s time for a win and this season and this situation might be the best opportunity that Lajoie has ever had.
Cole Custer (+20,000)
There’s not a lot of good things that can be said about Custer. He won a handful of races in the Xfinity Series a couple years ago when he had an unfair advantage by driving elite equipment. Since being promoted to the Cup Series, Custer’s performance has been abysmal. However, +20,000 for an SHR Ford with an experienced driver is too long. It’s shocking. In 2022, where anything can happen, it is unbelievable that the DraftKings Sportsbook would slap these odds on Cole Custer.
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