Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway: Betting Preview and Expert Picks for April 21, 2024

by | Last updated Apr 20, 2024 | nascar

Race: Geico 500
Date: Sunday, April 21, 2024
Track: Talladega Superspeedway
Time: 3 pm ET
Channel: FOX

What Did We Learn From Last Week?

Well, Kyle Larson didn’t run away with a win, but another HMS driver still took home the trophy after a 42-race winless streak. Chase Elliott finally had a smile on his face after winning the race at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, his first at the track. It was an exciting finish for fans, ending in double overtime and requiring Elliott to execute with quite a bit of skill to get his victory. He prevailed in three total late-race restarts to earn the trophy. Brad Keselowski earned a runner-up finish and a whole lot of needed points for the RFK team. Keselowski has persevered through some tough times, but he’s really brought along this relatively infant team to become a force to be reckoned with. Ultimately, Denny Hamlin was the first to cause the overtime after he got loose and into the wall with two laps to go. Chastain was then the next driver to battle Elliott for the lead, but he had an unfortunate incident after being tagged by William Byron, causing the white flag to come out, officially ending the race.

Both Hamlin and Chastain suffered pretty bad days considering how well they did for the majority of the race. Hamlin led a total of 37 laps and was battling for the lead, but his loose car and tag on the wall resulted in a 30th place finish. Chastain was also battling for the lead there at the end before being taken out by Byron, leaving him with a disappointing 32nd place finish. Ultimately, the race proved to be very competitive. Seven drivers led laps in the double digits, with 13 total leaders throughout the race. The top five spots were rounded out by William Byron, Tyler Reddick, and Daniel Suarez. As I mentioned in the preview, pit road was going to be an important piece of the puzzle, with Tyler Reddick reaping the consequences of a poor pit stop. After holding a 6-second lead on the field, his stop with trouble on the left rear caused him to lose his lead and work on catching up instead of continuing to pull away. Truex Jr. was another casualty of pit road mistakes, having to pit twice to correct a loose wheel, leaving him with a 14th-place finish instead of one that ultimately should’ve been much better.

Where Are We Headed This Weekend?

Drivers are headed to Talladega this weekend for a superspeedway run after short tracks and the intermediate track of Texas. Talladega is another action packed race, with drivers having to strategically maneuver the draft and maintain a lot of composure in very tight spaces. This 2.66-mile asphalt tri-oval is banked at 33 degrees through turns one and two, 32.4 degrees through three, then 32.5 through turn four. The tri-oval is banked at 16.5 degrees with a mild 3 degrees on the backstretch. This track requires a lot of strategy when it comes to pitting with friends, maintaining tires, and staying in the draft. Drivers can only stay in the draft if they have friends. Pitting with your friends is critical. If you come onto pit road without anyone, you’re in for a losing battle. These drivers are going to have to pay close attention to those around them and work hard at maintaining speed without causing wrecks.

Odds and Value Picks

When it comes to picking a winner, Larson is probably not my choice this weekend. I will never count him out, but he struggles here more than most and it’s definitely not statistically his best track. In fact, in the last six races here, his average finish is 24.5, with his entire 18-race career here not much better, averaging at around a 22nd-place finish. That’s surprising to be honest from this driver and team, but you can’t be a master of everything. The most recent stats show success from other HMS drivers William Byron and Chase Elliott. In fact, Elliott sits in 5th place for best average finish in the last three years of racing. Ryan Blaney is actually our best finisher here, but this year hasn’t proven to be a stellar start for him. Maybe this weekend will prove differently? That remains to be seen. Let’s take a look at your potential winners heading into Talladega this weekend with odds provided by Bovada Sportsbook:

  • Winner: William Byron +1200
  • Mid-Range Pick: Bubba Wallace +1400
  • Dark Horse: Erik Jones +2000

Jones has a 7th-best average finish in the last six races here, with four top-10 finishes. He’s had a good start to superspeedways this year, with a 5th place finish at Daytona in the exhibition. The 500 gave him an 8th-place finish. Those were clearly his best finishes of the year so far. With his strong average finish at Talladega, I don’t put it past him to have a great run and be up front. Bubba Wallace is another driver to watch. Although he’s got a 17th average finish at Talladega, he’s a good superspeedway racer. He does have a win in the last three years at this track, but that was his only top 5 and top 10 finish. Based on his runs this year, though, look for Wallace to be upfront and contending at the end of the race. Byron is just the class of the field this year. He’s got an average finish of 12.3, which is 6th best among active drivers. With how well he’s running, I don’t put it past him to do a phenomenal job and get his fourth win of the season this weekend. The drivers are going to be hard pressed to beat this HMS team, as they continue to dominate the season. Will his teammate, Chase Elliott, best him? Elliott is a great superspeedway racer, which he clearly got from his dad. Don’t put it past him to be chasing the checkered flag as well. Let’s see where his win put him in the points after the race at Texas last weekend:

  1. Kyle Larson
  2. Martin Truex Jr.
  3. Denny Hamlin
  4. Chase Elliott
  5. William Byron
  6. Ty Gibbs
  7. Ryan Blaney
  8. Tyler Reddick
  9. Bubba Wallace
  10. Christopher Bell
  11. Ross Chastain
  12. Chase Briscoe
  13. Chris Buescher
  14. Alex Bowman
  15. Joey Logano
  16. Kyle Busch

The big losers this past weekend were Bowman, losing 4 spots, and Chastain, losing 3 spots. On the flip side, Briscoe picked up 4 positions, and Bubba Wallace gained 3 spots. Larson still holds strong at the top of the standings, just 27 points above Truex Jr. I think that Talladega is going to put a little bit of a wrench in things if it goes the way that it usually does. Stay tuned for a fantastic afternoon of superspeedway racing as the drivers head to Talladega this Sunday!