YellaWood 500: Talladega Picks, Predictions, and Race Preview

It might be tempting to grab one of the "favorites" at longer odds on this high-variance Talladega track, but our YellaWood 500 picks caution against many of the odds leaders, and find greater value with some longshots.

Last Updated: Sep 28, 2022 10:42 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
Joey Logano YellaWood 500 NASCAR picks
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NASCAR's playoffs continue this weekend at Talladega, and oddsmakers aren't really sure what to make of it.

The YellaWood 500 odds are tightly-packed, and books aren't leaning too heavily on any one driver. But many of the so-called favorites can be written off, creating better value down the board — if you know where to look. 

That's why we're here.

As the Round of 12 rolls on, check out our best free YellaWood 500 picks and predictions for Sunday, October 2. 

YellaWood 500 best bets

Picks made on 9/27/22 at 3:00 p.m. ET.
Click on each pick above to jump to the full analysis.
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

YellaWood 500 favorites    

Joey Logano (+1,200)

He has five Top-5 finishes in his last 10 Talladega starts and is a three-time Talladega winner. What I don’t like is that his finishes on superspeedways this season are 21st, 9th, 32nd, 26th, and 12th, respectively. However, he enters this weekend on the heels of a runner-up finish last week in Texas. 

Ryan Blaney (+1,200)

He has won two of his last six Talladega starts to go along with a Daytona win in last year’s regular-season finale. He’s become one of the best superspeedway racers in the sport and is coming off a fourth-place run last Sunday.

Bubba Wallace (+1,800)

He won here last year and was runner-up in this past year’s Daytona 500, too. If he can stay out of trouble, the odds are good for a win on Sunday. 

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YellaWood 500 longshot picks

Looking for a longshot? This could be the race for it. On a high-variance track, we have a couple of extra drivers that should find themselves in the mix at Talladega.

Brad Keselowski (+2,000)

You always go with Brad on a superspeedway race. He’s won six times at Talladega, including spring 2021. He was also runner-up last fall. RFK Racing’s last two wins also came on superspeedways, so that could be a good omen this weekend. His first Cup win as a driver came here, so why not his first Cup win as an owner too?

Austin Dillon (+2,500)

He was second here in the spring and is coming off of a Daytona win in August.

Erik Jones (+3,000)

He had a Top-5 car in February’s Daytona 500, and he was leading the spring race late before being shuffled from the lead to sixth on the final lap, as well as finishing fourth in Atlanta’s second race.

Aric Almirola (+3,000)

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver has eight Top-10 finishes in his last 12 starts at Talladega, including five in the Top 5. He won there in the Fall of 2018, was fourth and spun across the finish line to a third-place result in June of 2020

Michael McDowell (+4,000)

He won the Daytona 500 in 2021, and was third in the 2021 spring race here to go along with seventh in the Daytona 500 this year and eighth in the Talladega spring race.

YellaWood 500 fades

There are lots of reasons to fade the favorites for the YellaWood 500. We've expanded this section for this race, as many of the big-name drivers at or near the top of the odds board aren't worth backing.

Denny Hamlin (+1,200)

He can win at any given time on a superspeedway, these odds and having no Top 10s in five superspeedway starts this season give me reason to pause. At Talladega, he was only 32nd and seventh last year, with an 18th in this year’s spring race.

Kyle Larson (+1,200)

This past spring was his first and only Talladega Top-5 finish. He’s just 1-for-34 for Top 5s on superspeedways. In fact, four of his last five finishes at Talladega are 39th, 40th, 40th, and 37th. 

Chase Elliott (+1,200)

He hasn’t had a Top 5 in any of his six fall races at the track. His finishes are 12th, 16th, 31st, eighth, 22nd, and 18th, respectively.

Tyler Reddick (+1,500)

He won an Xfinity Series race at ‘Dega, as well as having two straight seventh-place finishes on the 2.66-mile track before being 39th last Fall. While he was 39th again this spring, he did finish runner-up at Daytona back in August. But coming off of a win, can he really make it two straight?

Ross Chastain (+1,500)

There have been only four Talladega sweeps in the last 38 years, so it doesn’t bode well for Ross Chastain to win again this weekend. In fact, while he has three Top-2 finishes in five superspeedway starts this season, two of the three were at Atlanta. He was 40th and 33rd, respectively, at Daytona.

Kyle Busch (+1,800)

Not one of his better races. Busch’s last eight finishes in the fall Talladega race have been 11th or worse, including his last six being 30th, 27th, 26th, 19th, 27th, and 27th, respectively. He was 32nd and 18th in two of the last three spring races too. He hasn’t had a Top-5 finish on the season since June 5 either. 

Christopher Bell (+1,800)

He’s finished 34th, 23rd, 22nd, 19th, and 36th on these tracks this season.

Martin Truex Jr. (+2,000)

He’s had two Top-5 finishes at Talladega since 2007. His last 10 finishes there are 40th, 35th, 23rd, 26th, 23rd, 20th, 24th, 23rd, 31st, 12th, and fift,h respectively.

Alex Bowman (+2,000)

His fall race finishes are 33rd, 37th, 14th, and 38th. He was 38th in the spring race of 2021 and ninth this past spring. He finished 24th and 14th this year at Daytona. 

Kevin Harvick (+2,000)

He’s only had two Top-5 finishes in his last 21 Talladega starts. While he was fourth and eighth at Talladega last year, he’s had finishes of 30th, 21st, 10th, 12th, and 20th on these types of tracks this year.

YellaWood 500 matchup pick

Brad Keselowski (-110) vs. Daniel Suarez (-110)

You just get the feeling a win is coming soon for Keselowski. Leading 109 laps two weeks ago at Bristol turned into a pole last weekend in Texas. Now, we go to arguably his best track, where he’s won five times, including just last year. 

Suarez, meanwhile, has one Top 10 in 11 Talladega starts, including being 23rd or worst in each of his last six starts there. This one seems simple. 

PICK: Keselowski (-110)

YellaWood 500 preview

With the odds the way that they are and a race that’s wildly unpredictable, let’s go with more favorites and sleepers since the money is there to make multiple picks at each. Plenty of top drivers truly don’t have much of a shot, and most of them are listed as favorites according to oddsmakers, which, in turn, helps you get more bang for your buck backing other drivers. 

The ultimate wildcard of the 2022 playoffs is here but in saying that, past stats show that maybe this race isn’t much of a wildcard after all. Since 1995, only eight drivers have earned their first or second career wins there. Granted, this occurred the past two races there, but if you take a step back and look at the grander picture, you’d see that an unlikely winner isn’t all that likely. 

Bubba Wallace’s win in last year’s race made the 12th driver to pick up his first career win at Talladega, joining Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2017), Brad Keselowski (2009), Brian Vickers (2006), Ken Schrader (1988), Phil Parsons (1988), Davey Allison (1987), Bobby Hillin Jr. (1986), Ron Bouchard (1981), Lennie Pond (1978), Dick Brooks (1973) and Richard Brickhouse (1969). As you can see, it was more prevalent in the 70s-80s than now. 

Since the win and advance format was introduced to the sport in 2014, the Talladega playoff race has always been won by an existing playoff driver, with the lone exception of Wallace last year. That was one of six times overall that a non-playoff driver won. 

However, this year’s playoffs have seen all four races won by four playoff-eliminated drivers. 

There’s also the manufacturers’ race. Ford has won 10 of the last 14 Talladega races and should be a favorite. However, Chevrolet has won four of the five superspeedway races this season, and has done so with different drivers (Byron, Elliott at Atlanta, Chastain at Talladega, Dillon at Daytona). 

Toyota, remarkably, has won the last two fall races, part of just three wins in the last 27 Talladega races overall. 

YellaWood 500 key stats

  • The last two winners each started 19th. Starting spots of winners in superspeedway races this year: fifth, 21st for Daytona, 19th at Talladega, while Atlanta was 12th and first.

  • 13 of the previous 14 races prior to Wallace’s win last year were won by the Top 6 Rows.

  • Only two pole winners (Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 2017, Denny Hamlin 2020) have won in the last 35 Cup races at Talladega. Those are the only two front-row starters to win since the playoff race of 2011 (22 races). Five of the 13 previous races before were won by front-row starters.

YellaWood 500 live betting trends to watch

  • Just once in the last five Talladega races has the eventual winner scored stage points in the opening stage.

  • However, in three of the last four races, the winner actually finished second in Stage 2. Furthermore, since 2017 (the start of stage racing) we’ve had 10 races at Talladega. The eventual race winner finished second in Stage 2 five times.

  • For Daytona/Talladega this year, the race winner has scored 0 points cumulatively in Stage 1.

  • Neither race winner this year led any laps in the first two stages. Austin Cindric led all 21 of his laps in the Daytona 500’s final stage. Chastain led just the final lap here in April, while Austin Dillon led all 10 of his laps in the Coke Zero Sugar 400’s final stage too.

  • Two of the four superspeedway races last year saw the race winner lead only the final lap (McDowell, Daytona 500, Brad Keselowski here in April). Bubba Wallace only led the final five laps here last Fall as well, meaning each of the last three Talladega races saw the winner lead only in the closing laps.

  • 10 of the last 11 race winners on the season led their only laps of the race in the final stage, including eight straight. 

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