NASCAR YellaWood 500 2023 Drivers, Predictions and Best Bets: Put your trust in Ryan Blaney

NASCAR Cup Series driver Ryan Blaney (12) during the Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
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Matt Selz


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NASCAR handicapper for Pickswise, looking to give you winners throughout the season! For Matt Selz media enquiries, please email
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Talladega, the Alabama behemoth, is up next in the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Cup playoffs. It’s always a wild card race no matter the time of year. This race though has particular importance as the last true wild card to advance one step closer to a Championship. In a race that is truly wild and anyone can theoretically win it, how do we bet it? There are strategies involved, just like all races, this one is just a bit wider spread. How can we leverage track history and trends for betting on Sunday? Who are the drivers we’re predicting to win the YellaWood 500? What are the best prop bets for Talladega? Let’s find that out.

Betting Trends At Talladega

It’s true that chaos is a huge part of races at Talladega. However, that doesn’t mean they’re entirely unpredictable. This is perhaps the track where betting top-10s is the most widespread in terms of odds of any track. To open this week, there were 17 drivers who were minus odds (American) to finish top-10. By the time of this writing, there were just two drivers left who’s best odds for top-10 finish props were minus odds and all the rest — 38 drivers — were plus money odds. That’s what I mean. You can make a case for literally any driver in the field to finish top-10 by the end of the race just like you can make a case for any one to wreck out of the race. That’s just Talladega. So how do we figure on who to bet for top-10s?

Well, the general rule of thumb is you want the drivers starting anywhere between pole and P20 or ones starting outside the top-30. Why? Most of the wrecks take out the drivers who started P21-P30 as they try and move up through the field. We also want to look at the drivers who have good history at plate racing tracks. They don’t have to have a ton of wins but completing laps and having good running positions is a great sign.

Winner Trends For YellaWood 500

Props are great and all but how are we looking at trends for winners when betting for Sunday? In the last five races at the Alabama super speedway, the winner has started between 10th and 19th in the grid. In the 15 prior to that, the winner started in the top-10 11 times. So, in one regard, that helps a bit, recency right? But in another regard, it really doesn’t since the two trends seem counter to one another. That’s just a bit of how Talladega works.

In the current car, the Next Gen, it seems to be producing winners more from the mid pack but it’s a bit unclear as to exactly why. Given that the last three winners here have been Chevrolet drivers, I’d presume it’s because the Hendrick supplied engines are working better in race trim. That being said though, one nearly sure bet, is don’t bet the pole-sitter. Pole-sitters here have only won four times here since the start of the 1998 season (that’s 25 years and 50 races). This piece was written before qualifying orders were set as a note to the reader.

NASCAR YellaWood 500 Winner Best Bets

Ryan Blaney (+1200 at BetMGM)

He’s won here in the past. Blaney is the only Team Penske driver left in the playoffs and this is easily his best shot to clinch a spot in the Round of 8. Considering how strong Team Penske and Fords in general are at plate tracks, there’s a pretty good shot at him not only being near, or at the front late, but also having help with pushes in late race situations.

Brad Keselowski (+1200 at Caesars)

Keselowski is a master at plate races, it’s that simple. His career win total on plate tracks is impressive. Couple that with him looking to solidify his spot in the Round of 8 and not needing a great showing at the Roval next week to make that happen — we have a strong contender. Keselowski and the RFK duo have shown great speed on a variety of tracks in the second half of the season and Talladega on Sunday should be no different. If you want slightly longer odds you could take Chris Buescher (+1600 BetMGM) and get a driver coming off a win at Daytona and P3 at Talladega earlier in the year.

Joey Logano (+1400 at FanDuel)

Logano has a career win rate of just over 10% at Talladega. That’s reason enough to bet him. Sure, he’s out of the playoffs. And the thought is that he would push a teammate (Ryan Blaney) or other Ford driver to a win, but I’m not so sure. Last year we saw four races to start the playoffs won by non-playoff drivers, so why can’t this one be?

Bubba Wallace (+1400 at BetMGM)

He won this race last year and this is arguably his best track stats wise. The fans hating him also doesn’t hurt as he takes it as motivation to prove them wrong. He comes in to this race needing a great race, or win, to move above the projected cutline for the Round of 8. We saw him put together a great race at Bristol two weeks ago in a similar position, so why not at his best track?

Kyle Busch (+1800 at FanDuel)

Busch won here this spring. Sure, he’s not known as a plate racer, but the folks at RCR certainly are. If this car is setup the way his spring car was, watch out field as Busch could be coming for a spot in the Round of 8. He also comes in dead last in the playoff standings needing a good day to make up ground and not have the Roval be a must-win situation.

Martin Truex Jr (+2800 at DraftKings)

Truex may not have a plate race win, but he’s come close. He’s nailed down top-fives multiple times at them and run very well in the Next Gen cars too. We saw him just sneak through to the Round of 12 but then be reset atop the standings thanks to the regular season championship points. The oddsmakers feel like they’re sleeping on him to win a bit here so let’s take advantage.

Austin Dillon (+4500 at DraftKings)

Dillon’s teammate won here in the Spring. He himself has won here previously in the 3-car. While he’s not in the playoffs, that doesn’t much matter at a place like Talladega where it simply comes down to luck and an ability to handle this style of racing, which Dillon is more than capable of. It’s hard to overlook this return even if it’s a long shot and a small bet unit wise.

Best Prop Bets For YellaWood 500

Chris Buescher Top-10 Finish (+110 at BetRivers)

It’s hard not to take Buescher to win given his win at Daytona and strong showings at Talladega and Atlanta as well. However, it’s easy to take him to finish top-10 over his teammate/owner Brad Keselowski as he’s going off at -106. If the cars and history, recently, are the same, why not take the plus odds on this one?

Erik Jones Top-10 Finish (+150 at BetRivers)

There are perhaps no better tracks on the schedule for Jones than plate tracks. He shows up well at Daytona and Talladega in equal measure and should be a threat for a top-10 once more this week. The odds suggest a 40% implied chance and in five plate races this year, Jones has three P11 or better finishes which is a 60-percent hit rate. That works for me.

Martin Truex Jr. Top-10 Finish (+180 at BetRivers)

If we know that Truex is capable of runners-up finishes as well as top-10s at plate tracks, why not hedge? These odds are still a nice return for a top-10 prop for a guy with his abilities at them and a nice way to not lose out if he doesn’t wind up winning on Sunday.

Corey Lajoie Top-10 Finish (+250 at BetRivers)

These are always races Lajoie has circled on his calendar for his best shots to win. While I don’t see him competing for the win this weekend, he could certainly be a threat for a top-10 finish. The two top-10s he has this season came at Atlanta and Daytona, both plate tracks. That’s good enough for this bet to be an intriguing one.

Ty Dillon Top-10 Finish (+850 at DraftKings)

You want a really long shot prop? How about a guy with no top-10s this year? Ty Dillon has a good history at plate tracks and has been improving his finishes each one this year. The last time out he posted a P11 at Daytona. If he avoids the wrecks, he could pay off nicely at these odds.

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