Denny Hamlin is in a good spot to replicate his fall victory at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday.
The No. 11 car driver won the most recent NASCAR Cup Series race at the Alabama track after starting on the pole. He is back there for the Geico 500 thanks in part to his status as the points leader. Hamlin does not have any wins this season, but he has been one of the most consistent drivers on the circuit. Expect him to run up front, with two of his teammates starting on the inside row.
Joey Logano will join Hamlin on the front row, while Martin Truex Jr. and William Byron will begin the 500-mile race on the second row.
Alex Bowman, who won the Cup Series' latest race at Richmond, will be on Row 3 with Christopher Bell. Last year's Talladega June race winner, Ryan Blaney, starts alongside Chase Elliott on the fourth row.
Geico 500 Information
Date: Sunday, April 25
Start Time: 2 p.m. ET
Live Stream: FoxSports.com or Fox Sports app
Denny Hamlin: +650 (bet $100 to win $650)
Joey Logano: +900
Ryan Blaney: +1000
Chase Elliott: +1100
Brad Keselowski: +1100
Aric Almirola: +1600
Kyle Busch: +1800
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: +1800
Kevin Harvick: +2000
Alex Bowman: +2000
William Byron: +2000
Kyle Larson: +2000
The best way to avoid the major wrecks at superspeedways is to remain near the front of the pack.
Hamlin carries the luxury of starting up top thanks to the consistent set of results he put together in the first nine races. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver owns eight top-10 finishes, and he took fifth on the first superspeedway race of the year at the Daytona 500.
He owns 13 top-10 placings in 30 starts at Talladega. His strong finishes at the track and results this season made him the easy choice for pre-race favorite.
Logano is viewed as Hamlin's top competition from an odds perspective. The No. 22 car driver sits at +900, and if he gets off to a fast start on the outside, he could dictate the pace of the race.
If you look past Hamlin and Logano on the odds chart, there is an easy trend to point out. The past six drivers to win at Talladega have the six best odds to take the checkered flag. Blaney won back-to-back Talladega races in October 2019 and June 2020, Keselowski and Aric Almirola won the 2017 and 2018 October races, Elliott was the April champion in 2019 and Logano last won in Alabama in April 2018.
The positioning of the recent Talladega winners allows you to grab more value on the likes of Alex Bowman, Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr., all of whom are +2000 or above.
Bowman is coming off a win at Richmond and could lead the Hendrick Motorsports train to the front of the field. Byron, Larson and Elliott all start inside the top 12.
If the Hendrick cars push to the front and avoid wrecks, they could be one of the groups to fear in the final stage. That was not the case at Daytona, as Bowman exited early and Byron finished laps behind winner Michael McDowell.
Since Talladega is a superspeedway, you always have to consider the possibility that a long shot wins, as McDowell did in February at Daytona.
Ryan Preece is the top dark horse to watch. He drove the No. 37 car to a pair of top-15 placings at Talladega in 2020 and finished sixth at the Daytona 500.
Erik Jones is another long shot to consider since he landed second behind Hamlin in October and turned in a fifth-place mark in June 2020.
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