I love restrictor plate races, even the bad ones are average at best because of how unpredictable they are. Something about a track that gives every single car on the track a chance to win just hits differently for a true NASCAR fan. While the drivers and owners hate these places because of the astronomical amount of damage that can come from them, it’s crazy great entertainment.
We all know predictions are bupkis at Talladega or Daytona, but I still gotta give it a shot. Honestly, I feel pretty good about my picks, but I won’t lie, they’re the same exact picks from my Daytona 500 predictions. Reason being, neither of these two have given me any reason to believe they won’t contend for the win at the end.
Favorite: Denny Hamlin
It’s fair to say that Denny is having the best year of any driver despite not winning a race yet this season. On this site I have given him a bit of grief over his clutch gene, but he has proven many times over that he can win at superspeedways with regularity, and won at Dega last season.
He will be starting on the pole tomorrow and while qualifying means very little, I’m confident he will find a way to be up front all race long. A driver who is able to stay towards the front all race long generally has a better shot of avoiding accidents and being in contention at the end.
Dark Horse: Bubba Wallace
Wallace is having a horrible year compared to the expectations put on him, but the one bright side this year was Daytona. Despite not having a finish that shows it, Wallace was up front all day and was in contention for a win prior to a pit crew mistake forcing him to go a lap down.
He has shown a lot of skill on restrictor plate races in previous years, and here in his home state seems like a great spot for his first win. He is not on the hot seat, but the pressure has got to be piling down on him, and this seems like his best shot to relieve a lot of it.
- Denny Hamlin – $10,000
- Ryan Blaney – $10,100
- Kyle Larson – $9,400
- Kevin Harvick – $9,600
- Chase Elliott: $10,300
- Martin Truex Jr. – $8,900
- Bubba Wallace – $7,000
- Matt DiBenedetto – $8,200
- William Byron – $8,000
- Austin Dillon – $7,700
- Tyler Reddick – $6,500
- Chris Buescher – $6,300
- Daniel Suarez – $6,200
- Ross Chastain – $6,100
- Justin Haley – $5,900
A lot of talk has gone into Brad Keselowski being the favorite this week, and while he’s a great pick, there is no true favorite until the last two laps of the race. I tend to stay away from the guys who are big money in these races because anything can happen. Kes or Elliott could get taken out on lap fifteen and then you’ve wasted your money. Spreading the wealth around an all-around line-up if more reasonable.
Guys like Blaney and Hamlin are becoming the most consistent superspeedway racers in the sport, and they are the two I’m keeping my eye on in terms of favorites. Grabbing premium drivers like Harvick and Larson at great rates at a superspeedway race is a great play as well. While Larson isn’t known for restrictor plate racing and Harvick is having an off year, they both have performed well in the past.
The fact that you can get Martin Truex Jr. for below $8,900 is a must have. I have a lot of confidence in every name on my mid-tier list, because they all have shown propensity for winning restrictor plate races. All except Matty D; he is put on this list off of a gut feeling. Matt DiBenedetto is coming off two solid finishes and going to Talladega might be a great spot to capitalize on his momentum.
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