Picking Ty Dillon to win the NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Talladega is unconventional to say the least — which is exactly why it makes sense.
The NASCAR Cup Series is set for the second of three races in the round of 12 of the playoffs this Sunday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway, where 11 drivers will be vying to become the second driver to clinch a spot in the round of 8 and join Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron in the semifinal round.
Superspeedway races, especially with stakes as high as they will be in this 188-lap YellaWood 500 around the four-turn, 2.66-mile (4.281-kilometer) high-banked Lincoln, Alabama oval, tend to produce chaos, and chaos is expected in this Sunday’s race.
Even the sportsbooks are projecting chaos.
Nobody is listed with odds shorter than +1100 to emerge victorious at FanDuel Sportsbook, which is running a promotion that awards fans with an instant $200 just for signing up and betting $5.
As most Talladega races are, this race is the ideal race for an upset winner, perhaps even a non-playoff driver.
With that in mind, could the longest longshot in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race really pull it off?
FanDuel Sportsbook lists Spire Motorsports’ Ty Dillon with the longest odds to win Sunday afternoon’s race at +40000. This means that a successful $5 bet on Dillon stands to pay out $2,005.
It’s not all that crazy to think that Dillon could pull off a victory, even for as unlikely as it might be.
Spire Motorsports are one of the teams that generally have their best chance to perform well in “equalizer” races at superspeedways. We most notably saw that last year, when Corey LaJoie almost won the summer race at the repaved Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Dillon was a factor in the recent race at Daytona International Speedway, spending considerable time in the top 10 in the latter stages before settling for a season-high 11th place.
In six seasons as a full-time Cup Series driver, Dillon has managed just seven top 10 finishes. Yet five of those top 10 finishes are in superspeedway races, including career-best finishes of fourth place at Daytona and a third at Talladega.
On top of that, Dillon is a driver who knows he is losing his ride after the 2023 season — marking a disappointing fourth straight season of losing his ride — and likely isn’t landing a new one in 2024.
Spire Motorsports have added a third car for Trackhouse Racing Team’s Zane Smith, and Carson Hocevar is rumored to take over behind the wheel of the No. 77 Chevrolet, leaving Dillon out of the Cup Series once again.
So why not go for it all in what could be his final opportunity to do so?
+40000 can also be written as 400-1, which implies that Dillon would win one out of every 401 races at Talladega — really fewer than that, considering the fact that sportsbooks will always give themselves the edge so that the implied probability totals more than 100%.
Dillon is by no means an elite driver, but it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t win at least one race in 400 or so tries, given the fact that superspeedways have been by far and away his best tracks throughout his career and he has consistently converted that strength into results.
And get this: his career average finish at Talladega ranks third in the Cup Series among active drivers. He knows how to get to the end of these races, and he knows how to do so in good form.
And last but not least, while it may not end up being a factor, it’s hard to imagine that Dillon won’t have help if he finds himself at the front in the closing stages. Playoff drivers would much rather see him win than another playoff driver secure a round of 8 spot, and there are more Chevrolets than there are Fords and Toyotas.
The YellaWood 500 is set to be broadcast live on NBC from Talladega Superspeedway beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET this Sunday, October 1. Begin a free trial of FuboTV now and don’t miss it!