Geico 500 Race Predictions & Betting Analysis

by | Last updated Apr 19, 2023 | nascar

Race: Geico 500

Date: Sunday, April 23, 2023

Track: Talladega Super Speedway

Time: 3 pm ET

Channel: FOX

What Did We Learn From Last Weekend?

As predicted, Kyle Larson took the win at Martinsville on Sunday to mark his second victory of the 2023 season. In what was an admittedly monotonous race, Larson used pit strategy late in the race to his advantage. A two tire stop proved fruitful in giving him just what he needed to pull away from the field and win 4.142 seconds over 2nd place finisher Joey Logano. Although Logano would’ve liked to win at the short track, it was just as miraculous that he finished so strongly, being that he started at the rear of the field due to a post-qualifying adjustment made to his Penske Ford. Interestingly enough, Logano was one of the few who opted not to make a stop there at the end. With just 56 laps to go, Logano gained track position and managed to hold on to it for a huge payoff in the end. It goes to show that track position can mean just as much as short tracks as it can on the longer tracks.

Larson is one of only two drivers this year with multiple wins. He joins teammate William Byron as a two timer this year. Other guys are still searching for those wins and want to lock in their spots in the playoffs. Logano is good to go as well, but drivers like Martin Truex Jr., who finished 3rd on Sunday, are still trying to cash in on that elusive win. Denny Hamlin finished 4th, and Chase Briscoe finished 5th. For Briscoe to come in 5th place is a miracle in and of itself. He was racing with a broken finger for the last two weeks after an off-track incident that caused him to have surgery on his hand earlier this week. All is well with Briscoe, but he should be back and better than ever with a finger on the mend when he gets back into his car. I can’t imagine trying to drive two short-track races with a broken anything. Good for him for driving through the pain and coming away with some seriously strong finishes. Aric Almirola, Ryan Blaney, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Bubba Wallace, and Chase Elliott rounded out the top 10 spots. We didn’t know until later in the week last week that Elliott would be returning to the #9 Chevrolet, but he came back in great fashion by nabbing a top 10 right off the bat. Suffice to say, though, Josh Berry deserves some recognition for the time spent in that car. I think he will have a lot of offers on the table in the future based on how well he raced and how he presented himself while keeping the seat warm for Elliott’s return.

Where Are We Headed This Weekend?

This weekend, the drivers and teams are heading to Talladega for a super speedway showdown. Talladega is a HUGE track. It is a 2.66-mile asphalt tri-oval. It has an impressive 33 degrees of banking in turns 1 and 2, 32.4 degrees through turn 3, and 32.5 in turn 4. The tri-oval is a milder 16.5 degrees of banking with just 3 degrees on the backstretch. The speeds here used to be upwards of 220mph, but the current cars don’t allow for those kinds of speeds anymore. With these restrictor plates and aero packages, the cars are much more limited in their speeds. That’s not to say that the drivers don’t get fast here, but it’s not the same Talladega that we saw in the 90s or even early 2000s. When we look at the track and its characteristics, we can’t avoid talking about “The Big One”. Inevitably, in every superspeedway race, all it takes is one guy getting the air off another and all chaos breaks loose. This isn’t your typical wreck where a couple of cars are taken out and head to the garage. We’re talking 10+ cars, sometimes more, that are inoperable, often causing red flag conditions due to the cleanup required of this type of wreck. Because of the speeds and the closeness of the cars with the drafts, there’s no way to avoid some of these wrecks. The funny thing is everyone knows it’s bound to happen, but someone always gets angry. A lot of retaliation is a result of what happens on a super speedway, despite knowing that the majority of these scenarios are a result of “racing incidents”. We always hear the veterans talking about how the younger drivers should’ve given them the spot or how the veteran drivers knew better than the take the air off the corner, etc. It doesn’t seem to matter at the end of the day. These types of tracks make things unpredictable at best because so much of the racing is being in the right place at the right time or vice versa.

Odds and Value Picks

When it comes to picking winners, you can imagine the difficulty. There are often some telltale signs of good drivers and teams and some folks who just seem to excel at these types of track. If you’re old enough, you remember hearing folks say that Dale Sr. could “see the air.” They were referencing Sr.’s ability to navigate these types of tracks and stay out of trouble. There aren’t many of those around anymore that are truly that skilled. Quite frankly, the similarity of all of these cars makes it difficult for the drivers to show any level of skill higher than anyone else. With the templates, part, aero, etc. all so similar, it’s no wonder we don’t see any truly standout drivers anymore. It’s hard to gauge, but we can also look at some history and some previous races to determine what the best options are. I will say that track position is literally everything at Talladega. I know it’s easy to see drivers shift through the packs, but if a driver can get up front and stay there (or better yet, qualify up front!), he definitely has a better shot than most. He also has the best shot of not being involved in any crazy wrecks. The front of the pack is absolutely the best place to be. A driver’s ability to maintain his position in the draft is paramount. This means he needs friends. Whether that be teammates or even manufacturer partners, the ability to stay in a group of cars is critical to be a player in this race. If a driver loses the draft, he loses the race. Point blank. Let’s take a look at your best choices for this weekend’s big race with odds provided by Bovada:

  • Winner: Chase Elliott +1400
  • Mid-Range Pick: Austin Cindric +2200
  • Dark Horse: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. +2500

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Cindric only has 2 Cup starts here at Talladega with Penske. Here’s the thing with him. His last run in October gave him a 9th-place finish after starting 17th, BUT he also won at Daytona. He’s got a good feel for these types of tracks from what we can see early in his career. He’s also been doing very well so far this year and has put his name on the map. Stenhouse is a bit of a gamble, but this year he’s got something going on. With his strong runs at the super speedways in the past, including multiple top 5 and top 10 finishes at Talladega, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the lead pack for much of the day. If you’ve ever studied his driving style, Stenhouse has a tendency to know how to block effectively. That’s so important in the closing laps of these races as the drivers use the drafts off each other to try to get the momentum in the final turn to the checkered flag. I do believe that Chase Elliott is going to be a hard one to beat to that checkered flag, though. He’s coming off a top-10 finish at Martinsville in his first race back after breaking his leg. The kid is talented, no matter which way you look at it. It doesn’t hurt that he won this race back in October and also has a win back in 2019. With five additional top-10 finishes and just an overall knack for speedway racing (thanks to dad!), you’re going to be hard pressed to see Elliott passed on the way to the checkers on Sunday. NASCAR is giving him a waiver to allow him to run in the playoffs despite his broken leg and sitting out multiple races, so he will certainly be looking to get as many wins and points as possible heading into the playoff season. Let’s see where all of these drivers sit in the points after Martinsville.

  • Kyle Larson
  • William Byron
  • Christopher Bell
  • Tyler Reddick
  • Joey Logano
  • Kyle Busch
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  • Ross Chastain
  • Kevin Harvick
  • Martin Truex Jr.
  • Denny Hamlin
  • Ryan Blaney
  • Alex Bowman
  • Brad Keselowski
  • Chase Briscoe
  • Chris Buescher

Briscoe and Buescher are doing something right. They’ve both been hanging in those transfer spots for several weeks. As I mentioned, Briscoe had a broken finger for two races, and he managed some seriously strong finishes. Keselowski is another driver that’s hanging in there. I’m thinking this will be one of his better finishes this season if he can stay out of trouble. He used to be fantastic at Talladega and has some wins of his own here. He will have to beat Elliott. Chase is currently sitting in 32nd in the points as we stand, so he’s got some work to do, and this track might be the place he makes it happen. Stay tuned for an action-packed weekend of superspeedway racing at Talladega!