The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series action continues on Saturday, Oct. 2, with the 2021 YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. It will mark the 31st race of the 2021 season, the fifth race of the Playoffs, and the second race of the Round of 12.
Denny Hamlin travels to Alabama following an incredible performance on Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where he took home the gold. It marked Hamlin’s second win of the season and his second of the playoffs, suggesting that the veteran NASCAR driver has found his stride.
But can the 40-year-old emulate his success on the world-renowned Talladega Superspeedway, or has he ran out of steam? Online sports betting oddsmakers have him priced at +650, suggesting that he will likely collect his third win of the playoffs.
Hamlin In Top Form
With his win last weekend, Hamlin has 3,082 points, which is good for second place in the standings. He is 14 short of Kyle Larson and eight points clear of Kyle Busch in third.
Hamlin hasn’t finished worse than ninth across the four NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs races. Martin Truex Jr. is the only other playoff driver who has achieved that feat.
Unlike his teammate, Hamlin has two wins (Darlington and Las Vegas) and a runner-up finish from Richmond. What’s more, Hamlin has an excellent track record in Alabama.
Across 31 starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Hamlin has managed two wins, nine top-5s, and 13 top-10s. Although his overall average finish isn’t excellent (17.2), Hamlin has three top-four finishes at the track across the last four starts.
The only exception was his last appearance at the Talladega Superspeedway in April when Hamlin finished in 32nd after he crashed into Joey Logano. An unfortunate situation, but Hamlin was hardly to blame for the incident that denied his shot at back-to-back wins.
“It is nobody’s fault,” said Logano after the crash.
“Denny is trying to go, and Stenhouse is trying to go. It is a product of this racing.”
Never Count Out Larson
Larson is the current NASCAR Cup Series leader, and there is a good reason for that — he has been the best driver of the year, and until proven otherwise, he is still the outright favorite to win the title.
Larson travels to Alabama with 3096 championship points and six wins on the season. Even though he has won only one race during the playoffs (Bristol), Larson has managed top-10 finishes in the remaining three.
That includes a runner-up finish in Darlington, sixth-place in Richmond, and a 10th-place finish at Las Vegas last weekend. While the 29-year-old could have done better, it’s not like he has disappointed anyone with his driving.
NASCAR Odds today show Larson at +1400, which seems like a fair price. You could argue that Larson should be priced at shorter odds, but we have to remember that he has yet to win in Alabama.
Not only that, but Larson hasn’t finished better than 39th across his last two starts. Meanwhile, his best placement at Talladega Superspeedway came in 2016, when he placed sixth.
Hamlin delivered for us last week at +750 when he won in Las Vegas, and while there are no guarantees, it’s hard not to view him as one of the top favorites to do it again this weekend. Hamlin is in great form and has done well at Talladega Superspeedway before, which are two good reasons to pick him.
If you’re looking for a longshot bet, Brad Keselowski is worth a look. If you want to bet now on Keselowski, he is priced as high as +1200, which is fairly generous since he has won the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in April, marking his sixth win on the track.
The only thing that could concern you is that before his win April Keselowski hasn’t finished better than 13th here since 2017, although he has crashed twice over that stretch. So Keselowski is a longshot bet, but a good one at the offered odds.