GEICO 500: Talladega Picks, Odds & Race Preview

Joey Logano's entering this weekend's stop at Talladega as a co-favorite, and the defending Cup Series champ has an axe to grind after a runner-up finish. Get the pre-race GEICO 500 odds and best betting picks.

Eric Smith - Betting Analyst at Covers.com
Eric Smith • Betting Analyst
Apr 19, 2023 • 15:33 ET • 4 min read
Joey Logano GEICO 500
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Who's ready for some superspeedway madness?

Instead of juggling another Ricky Bobby quote for NASCAR's latest trip to Talladega, there are plenty of compelling storylines to examine ahead of this weekend's race:

Can NASCAR Cup Series odds leader Kyle Larson break through on a superspeedway and win for the second week in a row (and third time this month)?

Can favorite Ryan Blaney put his cold streak to rest?

Will Chase Elliott improve upon last week's 10th-place finish in his return?

Find out as we size up the field with the GEICO 500 odds, and get the best angles with a full race analysis and betting picks from out Auto Racing Advisor! 

Odds to win 2023 GEICO 500

Driver Odds to win
Ryan Blaney +1,100
Joey Logano +1,100
Ross Chastain +1,200
Chase Elliott +1,200
William Byron +1,400
Denny Hamlin +1,400
Brad Keselowski +1,500
Kyle Busch +1,600
Christopher Bell +1,600
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. +1,800
Kyle Larson +1,800
Bubba Wallace +1,800
Tyler Reddick +2,200
Chris Buescher +2,200
Austin Cindric +2,200
Austin Dillon +2,500
Aric Almirola +2,500
Alex Bowman +2,500
Daniel Suarez +2,800
Martin Truex Jr. +3,000
Kevin Harvick +3,000
Chase Briscoe +3,000

Odds courtesy of DraftKings as of April 18, 2023.

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GEICO 500 field

The first thing you'll notice about this field is its relatively flat pricing curve, reflecting the high-variance nature of Talladega's superspeedway track. 

No drivers are available at or under +1,000, with a whopping 22 drivers priced at +3,000 or better, when that portion of the field would normally fall within the +5,000-or-so range on most tracks. Even by superspeedway standards, this is shaping up to be a crapshoot. 

The second thing you'll notice is that Ryan Blaney sits atop the odds board, despite not having won a points-paying NASCAR race since August 2021. While he's a former two-time Talladega winner and overall strong superspeedway driver, one has to wonder how much this slump is in his head. 

Joining Blaney atop the board is defending Cup Series champ Joey Logano (a three-time Talladega winner), who's already won on Atlanta's superspeedway-esque track this year and looks to one-up his runner-up finish at Martinsville last weekend. 

GEICO 500 picks and predictions

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GEICO 500 favorites

Ryan Blaney (+1,100)

While Blaney hasn’t won a race in his last 55 tries, this could be the week that he does so. The Team Penske driver has an astounding three Top-2 finishes in his last seven tries at Talladega, including a pair of wins (2019, 2020). Also, he's led a lap in eight of the last nine Talladega races and had a win in the 2021 Daytona regular season finale too. 

Six of his last nine Daytona results overall (counting the summer ‘400) have been inside of the Top 6 (he was eighth in February). The 2021 Daytona 500 loss in the end (fourth place) still resonates with him, with two Top-4 finishes in his last four Great American Races. Since the start of the 2020 season, only Hamlin has as many speedway wins as Blaney, but Blaney tops all with average finishing position (10.1). He’s had the second-most Top 5s (five) and tied for most Top 10s (eight) in that span, with the third-most laps led (187). 

Chase Elliott (+1,200

Can he really pull off a win in his second race back? He won the last time out here and has two trips to victory lane in his last eight Talladega starts. Elliott’s pair of Talladega finishes last year were seventh and first, respectively, to give him five Top-8 finishes in his last eight Talladega tries overall. His Hendrick teammates have combined to have won four of the nine races thus far and Elliott has a pair of Top-10 finishes in three starts this season himself. 

Denny Hamlin (+1,400)

He can win at any given time on a superspeedway, but his odds and having just one Top 10 in his last seven superspeedway starts give me reason to pause, too. However, six Top-7 finishes in his last nine Talladega tries also gives me optimism. 

No one has as many wins on superspeedways since 2018 as Hamlin’s three though. In his last 12 Daytona 500 starts, he has eight Top-5 finishes. He was third in the 2020 summer Daytona race too. At Talladega, he has seven straight Top-7s in the fall race.

He also has 10 Top-5 finishes in that span (since 2018) with the next-best being Logano’s seven. He, Blaney, and Logano are the only drivers to lead at least 200 laps in the last 21 races as well. He’s got five career superspeedway wins, which is two shy of Brad Keselowski for most in the series today.

GEICO 500 sleepers

Aric Almirola (+2,500)

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver had a streak of eight straight Top-10 finishes at Talladega, including five in the Top-5 and a win in October 2018. Since? 37th, 15th, 26th, 13th and 14th. However, he enters on the heels of a sixth-place finish last week too. He also won a Duel at Daytona this past February.

Kevin Harvick (+3,000)

He’s only had two Top-5 finishes in his last 21 Talladega starts. However, for these odds, with four Top-10 finishes in his last six Talladega tries including three in the last four, I’ll snag him now. 

Erik Jones (+3,500)

Jones has had five Top-10 finishes in his last six Talladega starts, including four in Top 6. Jones led 25 laps here last spring and 23 more last fall, in what could have each been wins. 

GEICO 500 fades

William Byron (+1,400)

He has four Top-12 finishes in his last six starts at Talladega, including a runner-up finish in the spring of 2021. However, he was 15th and 12th last year and 36th the start prior to give him eight finishes outside the Top-10 in 10 tries. 

Christopher Bell (+1,600)

He’s finished 34th, 23rd, 22nd, 19th, and 36th on these tracks last season. Despite being third in Daytona, I'm still skeptical. His spring Talladega finishes are: 29th, 17th, and 22nd. His fall finishes are 39th, fifth, and 17th. Too steep odds for me to grab him now.

Kyle Larson (+1,800)

Last spring was his first and only Talladega Top-5 finish (1-for-16). He’s only 1-for-37 for Top 5s on superspeedways. In fact, his last five finishes at Talladega are 39th, 40th, 40th, 37th, fourth, and 18th, respectively. 

GEICO 500 prop pick: Group C winner (DraftKings)

Kyle Larson (+240), Christopher Bell (+240), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+280), Bubba Wallace (+280)

What a perfect group here. Two of my three fades are in this grouping. Bell and Wallace each have one career Top-10 finish at Talladega. Larson has one career superspeedway Top-5 finish. Stenhouse just won the Daytona 500 and all three of his career wins have come on these types of tracks including at Talladega in 2017. Also, he enters this weekend with as much momentum (three Top-8 finishes in last four weeks) as he’s had in quite some time. 

Pick: Stenhouse Jr. (+280 at DraftKings)

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Talladega Superspeedway track analysis

Nothing has changed in regards to Talladega since last year. Even the rules package is similar, which means this race should look a lot like it did in 2022. In those races, Chevrolet dominated, sweeping both events on the 2.66-mile high-banked Alabama race track. However, Ford looks to be the top manufacturer out of the gates this year. While Chevrolet power won the Daytona 500, Ford drivers led the most laps (122 of 212). In Atlanta, another superspeedway, they swept the Top 8 in qualifying and led 221 of the 260 laps that day in taking home the win. Combined, Ford has led 46.1% of their laps this season (343 of 743) on superspeedways. The next-best are Toyota with 66 laps led, and Chevy with 63. 

Chevy has won five of the seven superspeedway races in this Next Gen era however, while Ford won the other two, each with Team Penske drivers. Toyota has only won three times in the last 28 races overall, two of which were won by Denny Hamlin.

GEICO 500 trends

  • Since 1995, only eight drivers earned their first or second career win at Talladega. However, six of those eight times have occurred in the past six years. 

  • Bubba Wallace (fall 2021) was the 12th driver to pick up his first career win at Talladega. 

  • The last three winners each started 19th and 16th respectively. Only two pole winners (Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 2017, Denny Hamlin 2020) won in the last 36 Cup races at Talladega. Those are the only two front-row starters to win since the playoff race of 2011 (23 races). 

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