Coming off last week’s win in Las Vegas, Denny Hamlin is favored at PointsBet SportsBook to win Sunday’s YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET, NBC). Hamlin is the defending winner of this race after beating teammate Erik Jones to the line last fall.
Hamlin has been the favorite in the first three races of 2021 on superspeedways with odds ranging from +675 to +800. This week, he faces his longest odds on the track type with a +850. Hamlin began the season with a fifth-place finish in the Daytona 500, which was his sixth consecutive top-five at Talladega and Daytona International Speedway. His two latest efforts netted a 32nd at Talladega and 13th at Daytona.
One way to view American odds is to move the decimal point two positions to the left. That will let a bettor know what they will make on a $1 bet. The return on investment for +850 odds is $8.50. For bettors more comfortable with fractional odds, a line of +300 is the same as 3/1.
No other driver has better than 10/1 odds, which is reflective of how difficult it can be for bettors and handicappers to determine clear favorites on a track with massive drafting lines and “Big One” crashes.
Three drivers are each listed with +1100 odds.
The winner of the most recent race on this track type, Ryan Blaney enters Sunday with momentum on his side after finishing in the top five in his last two starts at Bristol Motor Speedway and Las Vegas. He won back-to-back Talladega races in fall 2019 and spring 2020, but last year’s edition of this race was not kind. He finished 25th. Blaney rebounded to ninth this spring.
Blaney’s teammate at Team Penske, Joey Logano, also is listed at 11/1. Logano has three wins on this track, the most recent of which came in 2018. At the time, he was one of the hottest drivers at Talladega and the victory came in the midst of a four-race, top-five streak. His last four efforts there landed outside the top 10 with the last three worse than 15th.
Chase Elliott won at Talladega in spring 2018. His last two fall efforts during the playoffs ended in an eighth in 2019 and a fifth in 2020. This spring, he sustained crash damage and finished 24th.
Rounding out the top five is Brad Keselowski, who won this spring’s Talladega race with a line of +1200. This week, the PointsBet traders sweetened the pot to +1400. Keselowski has six Cup wins on this track; no other active driver has more than three. Prior to this spring’s victory, his most recent Talladega win came in 2017. In the six races between those two wins, he failed to crack the top 10 with an average finish of 22.5.
If Keselowski can win again this week, he will take sole possession of second on the all-time winners list at Talladega. He is currently tied with Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Another recent Talladega winner faces long odds this week. Aric Almirola took the checkered flag home in 2018. That was part of an eight-race, top-10 streak on this track that came to an end last fall when he retired on Lap 57 with crash damage. He faces odds of +2000 this weekend.
Kyle Larson faces +1600 odds this week in his bid for a seventh victory of 2021. These are the longest odds faced by the points’ leader since he was listed at +1800 for the spring Talladega race.
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Dan Beaver handicaps NASCAR races for NBC Sports Edge.