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Aric Almirola, driver of the Smithfield Ford, waves to fans as he walks onstage during driver intros prior as we look at our GEICO 500 picks. to the NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400.
Aric Almirola, driver of the Smithfield Ford, waves to fans as he walks onstage during driver intros prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400. Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images/AFP.

Get prepped for the first of two races at NASCAR's biggest and fastest track with our GEICO 500 picks based on the top odds from our best sportsbooks.

The NASCAR Cup Series is set to turn the intensity up several notches this weekend after three weeks of short-track racing. As the longest and fastest oval on the circuit, Talladega Superspeedway’s nickname of “The Biggest and the Baddest” is well earned. The Alabama track will host the GEICO 500 on Sunday afternoon.

Ross Chastain earned a victory during the spring Talladega race in 2022 despite only leading a single lap. It was the lap that mattered most, as “The Melon Man” notched his second career Cup Series win. Chase Elliott went to victory lane at Talladega in the fall.

When it comes to handicapping the GEICO 500, driver stats from both Talladega and Daytona International Speedway are worth considering. Although superspeedway (formerly restrictor plate) racing is the toughest discipline to predict, it's far from a total crapshoot. A handful of drivers have been remarkably consistent when it comes to navigating the draft for quality finishes.

Here are our best bets and 2023 GEICO 500 picks for Sunday’s action at Talladega Superspeedway (odds via Caesars Sportsbook, and SuperBook; Pick confidence is based on a 1-to-5-star scale).

GEICO 500 picks

  • Outright winner: Aric Almirola (+2800 via Caesars) ⭐
  • Winning Manufacturer: Ford (+155 via SuperBook) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Group F matchup: Erik Jones (+270 via SuperBook) vs. Austin Dillon, Chase Briscoe, and A.J. Allmendinger ⭐⭐

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 GEICO 500 odds

Joey Logano+1000+1000+1000+900 ❄️+1000
Ryan Blaney+1100 🔥+1000+950 ❄️+1000+1000
Chase Elliott+1200+1400+1200+1200+1600 🔥
Denny Hamlin+1200+1000 ❄️+1100+1200+1400 🔥
William Byron+1300 ❄️+1600+1400+1500+1600 🔥
Brad Keselowski+1400+1400+1400+1100 ❄️+1400
Ross Chastain+1400 ❄️+1600+1500+1500+1600
Christopher Bell+1600+1600+1800+1400 ❄️+2000 🔥
Kyle Busch+1600+1800+1500 ❄️+1600+2000 🔥
Kyle Larson+1600+1800+1500 ❄️+1600+2000 🔥
Bubba Wallace+1700+1800+1400 ❄️+1600+2000 🔥
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.+2000+2000+2200+2200+2500 🔥
Chris Buescher+2200+2000 ❄️+2200+2200+2500 🔥
Austin Cindric+2400 ❄️+2500+3000 🔥+2800+2500
Tyler Reddick+2400+2000 ❄️+2500+2500+2500

GEICO 500 predictions

Outright winner: Aric Almirola (+2800 via Caesars) ⭐

It's been a rough start to the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season for Aric Almirola. However, he's perhaps trending in the right direction following a sixth-place finish last week. Of course, Martinsville and Talladega are two very different race tracks. But Almirola boasts a history of running well on superspeedways.

Arguably the highlight of Almirola’s Cup Series career was an outright win at Talladega in the fall 2018 race. That victory was part of a stellar stretch in which he placed top 10 in eight consecutive races. While he hasn't enjoyed that level of success the last two years, Almirola still finished 15th or better in three of the last five races.

It’s difficult to be overly confident when choosing any driver to win outright at Talladega, but a wide price range on Almirola makes him an appealing value pick. Bettors should look to back the No. 10 car at Ceasars, where a +2800 price offers considerably more return than what's available at other sportsbooks. Almirola’s odds sit as low as +1600 elsewhere.

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Winning Manufacturer: Ford (+155 via SuperBook) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

As is often the case, Chevrolet has been given the shortest odds heading into Sunday. However, when it comes to superspeedways like Talladega, backing the Ford camp has proven to be a pretty solid strategy.

First off, let’s consider the major players that one would inherit with a bet on Ford. The most noteworthy is Team Penske, an organization that's thrived while dealing with the draft at Talladega and Daytona. Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano are the prohibitive favorites to win Sunday’s race, while Austin Cindric is more than capable too.

Along with Team Penske, the Ford camp also includes Stewart-Haas Racing. In addition to Almirola, Ryan Preece has displayed a knack for superspeedway racing while driving for smaller teams in the past. Wily veteran Kevin Harvick could surprise as well. 

Speaking of veterans, Brad Keselowski has produced an impressive Talladega track record of his own. A bet on Ford to win would also include him and RFK Racing teammate Chris Buescher. As if that wasn’t enough, Front Row Racing’s Michael McDowell is a former Daytona 500 winner and is almost always in the thick of things late at superspeedways.

With so many capable drivers, backing Ford to be the winning manufacturer makes for one of the best wagers of the weekend. Target SuperBook’s +155 odds to maximize value, which currently sit 20-25 cents higher than the prices found at other shops.

Group F matchup: Erik Jones (+270 via SuperBook) vs. Austin Dillon, Chase Briscoe, and A.J. Allmendinger ⭐⭐

After exceeding expectations in 2022, Petty GMS Motorsports rebranded as the Legacy Motor Club in the offseason. Unfortunately, the changes have failed to produce positive results on the track in the early part of the 2023 season. Despite the team’s struggles, Erik Jones makes for an interesting driver to back in this GEICO 500 group matchup.

Jones nearly won this race in 2022 before chaos on the final lap led to him settling for a sixth-place finish. He later replicated that finish during the fall race. Jones has recorded five top-10 results in the last six races at Talladega. That includes two top-five finishes and a runner-up showing in Fall 2020.

Jones’ average finish of 15.5 in the last 10 races is the best of the bunch compared to the other drivers in this group. Austin Dillon is a strong superspeedway racer too, but he's been far more successful at Daytona than at Talladega. While both Chase Briscoe and A.J. Allmendinger have run well in this discipline, neither boasts a large sample of success at the Cup Series level.

The struggles of Legacy Motor Club are cause for concern, but season trends can be somewhat overlooked given the unique nature of Talladega. Jones has been as consistent as anyone at the track in recent years, and he's capable of snapping out of his early-season funk with a strong run on Sunday.

GEICO 500 info

Date: Sunday, April 23, 3 p.m. ET
Location: Talladega Superspeedway, Lincoln, AL
How to watch: FOX
Defending winner: Ross Chastain

GEICO 500 picks made 4/22/2023 at 5 p.m. ET

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