Last week presented the first race that allowed fans. It was limited to first responders, military personnel and families of military personnel. This week they are allowing 5,000 fans.
Race: Geico 500
Date: June 21st 3:00pm
Venue: Talladega Superspeedway
2019 Winner: Chase Elliott (3:05:59)
Talladega Superspeedway. There is a great USA article out last year which basically states: “Talladega, a guaranteed thrill machine”. When you hear the words Talladega, everyone immediately thinks of the history and excitement of this track. Opened in 1969 this tri-oval 2.5 mile asphalt track is the longest on the circuit. It has turns ranging from 32 – 33 degrees with the straights being around 3 degrees. Trust in the quicker cars but also anticipate there will be some bumping as the cars try to go 3+ wide on this track.
Kurt Busch (third selection this year) — Kurt has an interesting dichotomy here. When it’s the regular season at Talladega he does well: 6th, 2nd, 6th and 8th over the last four years. When it comes to playoffs: 28th, 14th, 25th and 4th. His 17th place finish last week snapped a five race streak of finishing in the top 10.
Ryan Blaney (third selection this year) — His current season is amazing, he’s had top five finishes in five of his last six races. The one where he didn’t finish in the top 5 was a wreck at Bristol. Meanwhile, Talladega has not been friendly to him. Sure he won here last year but that is that is his only top 12 finish here in the last three years.
High Risk/High Reward
Tyler Riddick (second selection this year) — Tyler is a rookie so there isn’t a history at Talladega. What he has shown this year is success at ‘fast tracks’. After his wreck at Daytona where he finished 28th, he has been 8th and 14th at Charlotte and 16th at Atlanta. My biggest fear would be another wreck as he’s had a few times this season but that has a part of luck or lack thereof to it.
Aric Almirola (third selection this year) — Aric has arguably the best recent record at Talladega. His last six races here: 9th, 4th, 7th, 1st, 4th and 5th. It’s his current season that is less predictable. He finished 5th last week at Homestead but previously he was 33rd, 17th, 29th and 20th which isn’t as promising.
The Dark Horse
Ricky Stenhouse Jr (first selection this year) — He has quite the opposite situation from Ryan, Ricky’s last five races at Talladega: 25th, 9th, 5th, 3rd and 1st. He’s not foreign to top 10 finishes here, in fact, he’s had seven here in the last five years. By contrast, he’s only had two top ten finishes across the 12 races this season and he’s finished outside the top 15 in three of his last four races.
Fun Fact: Last year was the first race here since 1987 without restrictor plates. Everyone of my selections this week (with the exception of Tyler who didn’t race) finished in the top 10 in one of the two races last year.
Favorite: Avg Finish 11th (28th Percent)
High Risk/High Reward: Avg Finish 28th (46th Percent)
Dark Horse: Avg Finish 18th (46th Percent)