NASCAR: 5 drivers most likely to clinch at Talladega

Talladega Superspeedway, NASCAR playoffs (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Talladega Superspeedway, NASCAR playoffs (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

Talladega Superspeedway is set to host the middle race of the round of 12 of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs this Sunday afternoon.

Heading into the second NASCAR Cup Series playoff race of the round of 12 at Talladega Superspeedway this Sunday afternoon, seven of the eight spots in the round of 8 are still open.

Provided a round of 12 driver wins this weekend’s 188-lap YellaWood 500 at the four-turn, 2.66-mile (4.281-kilometer) high-banked Lincoln, Alabama oval, that number will drop to six ahead of the round of 12 finale at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Superspeedway races are largely viewed as “wild card” races due to their unpredictable nature with drafting and pack racing, and with another spot in the semifinal round on the line, there is little reason to expect this weekend’s edition to be any different.

Which NASCAR Cup Series drivers are most likely to secure a spot in the round of 8 with a YellaWood 500 win at Talladega?

FanDuel Sportsbook, which is now giving fans an instant $200 just for betting $5 on any driver, does not list one clear favorite.

It is no surprise to see nobody listed with shorter odds than +1100 for a superspeedway race, even though most other races on the Cup Series schedule typically list favorites between +400 and +600. These races truly are unpredictable — even for the sportsbooks.

RFK Racing’s Brad Keselowski is looking to secure his first win since April 2021 at the venue where he secured that win two and a half seasons ago. Amid RFK Racing’s resurgence, he has had far greater success than he did a year ago, but another victory continues to elude him. He is a six-time winner at Talladega.

Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney is looking for his and his team’s first win since he won at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May. Team Penske have uncharacteristically been a mid-pack organization in recent months, but they always show up in drafting races. Blaney himself has won at Talladega twice.

Then there is Chris Buescher, who has claimed three wins for the resurgent RFK Racing team since the end of July. He is also the winner of the most recent superspeedway race at Daytona International Speedway in late August.

Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott is also one of the favorites, and he is not a playoff driver. However, his No. 9 team is still in the owner playoffs, and the owner playoffs work the same way as the driver playoffs. If he can defend his Talladega win from last October, his team can advance to the round of 8 for a series-best seventh straight season.

Excluding Elliott, the next two drivers listed are 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace and Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron.

While Byron, the new championship favorite, has already clinched a spot in the round of 8, Wallace is still looking to do so after falling short at Texas Motor Speedway, when he was passed by Byron for the lead with six laps to go. Wallace is a former Talladega race winner.

Among round of 12 drivers not yet locked into the round of 8, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin has the fifth best odds to do so at Talladega, listed at +1600. He too is a former winner at Talladega, having won twice.

With odds and availability always subject to change, lock in your $200 now before it’s too late!

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NBC is set to broadcast the YellaWood 500 live from Talladega Superspeedway beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET this Sunday, October 1. If you have yet to begin a free trial of FuboTV, take advantage of their active promotion and start one now!