NASCAR Picks: 1000BULBS.COM 500 Betting Preview
Race: 1000BULBS.COM 500
Date: Sunday October 14, 2018
Track: Talladega Superspeedway
Time: 2 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com
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Well, looks like our mid-pick, Chase Elliott, was able to capture the checkered flag at the Monster Mile on Sunday! It took some overtime and a lot of perseverance, but Elliott managed to pass Denny Hamlin in turns 1 and 2 in order to take the win after Aric Almirola clipped the outside wall. He managed to cause Chase contenders Bowman, Truex Jr., Blaney, and Keselowski to end up with damage and ultimately caused a red flag on lap 397. Interestingly enough, Elliott only led the last 11 laps of the race. Those were the only laps he led at all. Alan Gustafson made some awesome calls, ultimately showing the even 50 laps older tires could maintain track position on the short run, carrying Elliott to the win.
For what it’s worth, Kevin Harvick was the class of the field. He led the most laps, with 286 out of the total 404 that the race ran through. Unfortunately, he was the perfect example of how small mistakes can be extremely costly. He ended up having to pit under green because a lug nut knocked out a valve stem to one of his tires. Harvick eventually regained a lap he lost under a debris caution on lap 339, but it was evident that he had used up his equipment. It was really a SHR show for much of the race until little issues came up, including Harvick’s mishap, Bowyer with a flat tire and hitting the wall, ultimately ending Almirola’s hopes at a decent day. Kyle Busch had his own troubles with track bar adjustment, which is vital at a track like Dover with the banking and tire wear that results from it. This weekend, it’s going to be a whole lot of tire and track bar adjusting as the drivers head to the ultimate in unknowns.
Talladega, oh how I loathe and love thee. I am at an impasse when it comes to this track being in the Chase. While on the one hand, all types of tracks should be represented in the Chase, the superspeedways create such an element of unpredictability. They don’t necessarily reflect the skill of the drivers or the teams in a lot of instances. At any one time, half of the field can wipe out because Jimmie Johnson gets loose again. But I digress. Talladega is a blast to watch and seemingly a lot of fun for the drivers, assuming they avoid “the big one”. There’s always one, sometimes two, major wrecks that really eliminate a lot of top teams. While several drivers are pretty much locked down into the Round of 8, there are still 4 drivers on the bubble. Talladega can either really hurt or really help. If luck plays anything into it, one or more of the outsiders can make their way into the Chase by others wrecking out. Talladega is a bundle of speed. At 2.66 miles, this asphalt tri-oval is nothing to sneeze at. It has some pretty impressive banking, with 33 degrees in turns one and two, 32.4 degrees in turn three, and 32.5 degrees in turn 4. The tri-oval boasts 16.5 degrees of banking with the backstretch at just 3 degrees. This place carries momentum and an enormous sense of power as we watch these drivers navigate the track.
If you’re smart in your choices this week, you’ll hold out for a Penske driver. A lot of drives like Brad. I think that both him and teammate Joey Logano are going to have a lot to say at the front of the pack. They are horsepower fiends, which is absolutely necessary at a place like this. It’s a hard swing at a place like Talladega where both of these guys have very similar stats. They both have two wins and have led almost equal amounts of laps. They are the cream of the crop when it comes to this superspeedway. Also, we have to consider where the speed has been this season across the board, and it’s certainly got the Fords edging the rest of the competition on the bigger tracks. Another consideration is the draft. Overall, we have to consider who’s going to have the right teammates or buddies at the right time. Logano and Keselowski work well together in a draft and know how to keep themselves up front. That is absolutely key here. If you aren’t up front, you risk being caught up in wrecks, and wrecks here put drivers out of contention generally for the rest of the race. There isn’t much in between. Let’s take a look at your potential winners heading into this weekend:
My Pick to Win: Brad Keselowski
Middle of the Road Pick: Aric Almirola
Dark Horse Prediction: Paul Menard
Paul Menard is a sneaky driver on these superspeedways. He has the potential to fool us all and come away with the win. He’s got a good record here for what it’s worth and can seem to navigate a draft pretty well. Aric Almirola is another guy to watch. He’s trying to make his way into the third round of the playoffs. I mean, he beat Jimmie Johnson already, so what’s stopping him now? With four straight top 10 finishes, he’s no one to count out. Overall, they’ll be chasing down Keselowski. While Logano is also good here, Keselowski has been on fire in the Chase. With the exception of the hiccup last weekend at Dover, he’s been a solid contender and multiple winner over the previous month. I think the Keselowski will do it again, keeping his championship dreams alive once again.
Here are your current top 12 after last week’s race:
1. Chase Elliott
2. Kevin Harvick
3. Kyle Busch
4. Martin Truex Jr.
5. Joey Logano
6. Kurt Busch
7. Brad Keselowski
8. Ryan Blaney
9. Aric Almirola
10. Clint Bowyer
11. Kyle Larson
12. Alex Bowman
Those last four drivers are on the bubble. As you can see, there aren’t many points separating those guys from that coveted 8th position. In fact, Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski aren’t out of the woods yet. Statistically, only Elliott is guaranteed to move on so far. I would take a gander to say that both Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch will be just fine. They have 60+ points up on the rest of the field. Crazy things do happen, but I don’t think that there’s too much that will wipe them out just yet. But hang on! We’re headed to Talladega! This is going to be a bumpy ride, boys and girls! Stay tuned for a great afternoon of racing at Talladega Superspeedway!