Talladega 101: Starting lineup, betting odds, Ford dominance

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Staff Report
·4 min read
What to Watch: Full guide to GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway
TALLADEGA, ALABAMA - OCTOBER 04: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, William Byron, driver of the #24 Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet, and Matt DiBenedetto, driver of the #21 Menards/Tuscany Ford, lead the field during the NASCAR Cup Series YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 04, 2020 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) | Getty Images
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After a three-race run at short tracks, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to the high banks of Talladega Superspeedway for Sunday’s GEICO 500 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Before enjoying the thrill of high speeds, take a moment to find out the need-to-know details in this week’s 101.

WHO’S ON THE POLE?

Series points leader Denny Hamlin starts on the Busch Pole for the third time this season — still searching for his first trip to Victory Lane in 2021. Joey Logano joins Hamlin on the front row, followed by Martin Truex Jr., William Byron and Alex Bowman rounding out the top five.

Where does your favorite driver line up? See the full lineup and starting grid.

RELATED: ‘Dega paint schemes | Full weekend schedule

TICKETS, FAN GUIDE

Grandstand tickets for the GEICO 500 are sold out. However, premium packages for a modified garage experience and a new infield drive-in experience are still available for fans who wish to attend. For those who have already purchased tickets, get an early start by looking at the interactive fan guide for safety protocols, scanner rentals and more.

For more information on other special offers and future events, visit the Talladega Superspeedway event site.

WHAT ARE THE ODDS?

Oddsmakers favor Hamlin to finally get over the winless streak after dazzling performances in nearly every race this season. The No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing wheelman tops the chart at 13-2, with rival Logano just off the pace at 9-1. Two-time Talladega winner Ryan Blaney at 10-1 edges out teammate Brad Keselowski and reigning series champion Chase Elliott — both 11-1 — to complete the list of frontrunners.

As fans know, superspeedways tend to produce electric moments from the underdogs. William Byron (20-1), Ryan Newman (30-1) and Erik Jones (40-1) each present intriguing value based on recent performances at the track.

Byron has led a lap in five of six career starts at Talladega and has a pair of consecutive finishes in 11th or better, Newman has five finishes of ninth or better in the last seven races — including two runner-ups — and Erik Jones has finished in the top five in each of the last two races.

Who’s your best bet? See the full list of BetMGM odds for the GEICO 500.

GOODYEAR TIRES

Cup Series teams have seven sets of Goodyear Eagle Speedway Radials for the 188-lap race on the 2.66-mile circuit. The length of the track allows for the possibility of drivers pitting under green without going a lap down.

Last repaved in 2010, the surface has increased its effect on tire wear over time, but the grip is still sustainable over longer runs — meaning two-tire and fuel-only stops should definitely be in play throughout the afternoon.

The minimum recommended inflation is 26 psi for the left side tires, 50 psi for the right front and 48 psi for the right rear.

FORD, TEAM PENSKE DOMINANT AT ‘DEGA

— In the last 11 races at Talladega, a Ford driver has reached Victory Lane nine times.

— During the 2018 race, Stewart-Haas Racing drivers ran 1-2-3-4 for 122 of 162 green flag laps and Aric Almirola won after taking the lead on the final lap.

— Team Penske and Team Penske-related drivers (No. 21) have either won or been passed for the win in six of the last seven Talladega races.

— Blaney led a race-high 63 laps in last year’s spring victory and has won two out of the last three races at Talladega.

Source: Racing Insights

RELATED: Every Earnhardt win at ‘Dega | Who has led the most laps here?

FANTASY LIVE

Join NASCAR Fantasy Live to compete weekly for points and bragging rights. Already signed up? Go ahead and build your lineup for Talladega.

The 2021 Fantasy Live points leaders are Hamlin (434), Truex (353) and Logano (345).

ALSO ON NASCAR.COM

Get additional camera views by logging on to NASCAR Drive, where each week a select number of in-car cameras will be available — as well as a battle cam and an overhead look.

New for this season, NASCAR has partnered with LiveLike to add fan engagement in the NASCAR Mobile App. Log in to the mobile app during the race for polls, quizzes, the cheer meter and more — and see instant results from NASCAR fans like you.