Talladega Superspeedway ‘Cash or Pass’ picks are for the NASCAR Cup Series second race this season at Talladega Superspeedway, the Yellawood 500 this Sunday, October 4th at 2 pm ET.
A NASCAR bettor’s worst nightmare is Talladega Superspeedway. The unpredictability of results, the chance of a wreck taking out half the field, and the possibility of a huge underdog finding their way to the front, all play into a wild card guess. For anyone looking to make a little cash, all of these factors can give a few headaches before, during, and after any race at the superspeedway.
Breaking down the upcoming race, the focus is on a few drivers who should have a pretty good chance at taking the victory at NASCAR’s longest track. It may be a bit of a crapshoot, but here goes.
Aric Almirola (+1400)
There’s no sure bet to finish in the top-ten at Talladega, but Almirola is as close to one as possible. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver has finishes of ninth or better in eight consecutive Talladega races, including a win in the 2018 fall race to lock a spot in the Round of 8. Almirola sits 27 points below the current cut line and is in a position to pick up a victory and put himself into the Round of 8. An Almirola win almost seems too good to be true, so avoid overlooking the No. 10 at Talladega.
Chase Elliott (+1000)
Elliott has been pretty close to picking up wins in multiple playoff races already, and with the ROVAL coming up, he’s probably not too worried about advancing to the Round of 8. Before the ROVAL, though, lies Talladega, where Elliott also has some success. He has a victory at ‘Dega in the 2019 spring race and a top-ten finish in last year’s fall race. Elliott was in an early accident during the spring race this year, finishing 38th. Overall, Elliott has four top-ten finishes, in nine career starts, at the track.
Alex Bowman (+2200)
Bowman’s average finish of 22.3 at Talladega doesn’t inspire much confidence in his ability to put together a good result on Sunday. But at a closer glance, he may be one of the favorites. Firstly, Bowman appears to be finding a second wind in the playoffs after struggling during the second half of the regular season. Secondly, he has finishes of eighth or better in three of his last five starts at Talladega. Bowman was leading the 2019 spring race when a huge wreck took him out of the race. In other words, Bowman has a lot of time near the front at Talladega, and it’s not a shocking thought to think of him in victory lane this weekend.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+1400)
In almost every edition of a Talladega bettor’s handbook, Ricky Stenhouse has odds that are much higher than usual. There’s no difference here, as Stenhouse is favored over drivers such as Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, and Martin Truex Jr. While Stenhouse has plenty of success at superspeedways, including a second-place finish at Talladega in the spring, a win is not likely this time around. Why? Because Playoff drivers are extra aggressive in shutting out non-playoff drivers. So, any advantage Stenhouse’s driving style gives him should be taken lightly now. Picking Stenhouse is a classic checkers or wreckers bet.
Kurt Busch (+1600)
Busch is on here because of a regression to the mean, more than any other reason. He doesn’t have multiple wins in any season since 2015. And while he’s typically pretty solid at Talladega with an 11.2 average finish in the last ten races, the odds of him finding a win in two consecutive weeks are pretty low. Riding the hot hand, maybe Busch is the man to pick. But, going with the hot hand at a superspeedway is not typically a smart move.
Kevin Harvick (+1400)
Putting Harvick in this part of Cash or Pass isn’t the norm, but the nine-time 2020 winner isn’t a favorite at Talladega. Harvick has just three top-tens in his last ten starts at the track, with five finishes of 17th or worse mixed in as well. Another factor is his spot in the playoff picture. Harvick is enough points clear of the cut line that finishing the race would almost certainly lock him into the Round of 8. Don’t expect Harvick to make any unnecessary moves to keep a much more hungry driver behind him, especially if those drivers are some of his teammates.
Chris Buescher (+5000)
Pay attention to Buescher on superspeedways, because especially this year, he always seems to be in the mix when the end comes around. Buescher was racing right up front on the final lap of the Daytona 500, has a finish of sixth in the spring Talladega race, and a finish of ninth in the Coke 400 showing success on high-speed tracks. Plus, Buescher is finding some momentum, coming off two consecutive top-ten finishes at Bristol and Las Vegas. It may be time for the Roush-Fenway driver to spoil the playoff party.
Kyle Busch (+1500)
With 30 of 36 races complete in 2020, Kyle Busch is still winless. Yes, it’s crazy, but it is 2020, so why the surprise? After winning a stage at Bristol and finishing sixth at Las Vegas, the No. 18 is riding some momentum into Talladega. Recently, Busch doesn’t have a ton of success at superspeedways, particularly Talladega. He has an average finish of 17.3 and just two top-tens in his last ten races at the 2.66-mile behemoth. But, never count out Kyle Busch, especially if he and his JGR teammates can get together.