2022 GEICO 500 at Talladega Predictions and Pick (April 24)

| April 21, 2022 6:51 pm PDT

My top picks for the Bristol Dirt race were essentially non-factors. Kyle Larson won stage one and finished fourth, but no one else was in contention. It was a disappointing result, but Talladega is a big week for NASCAR bettors.

The Cup Series will head to the 2.5-mile superspeedway for the first of two races in 2022. Superspeedway races tend to have upset winners, so there’s plenty of value on the board for Talladega.

Which drivers should you watch out for at Talladega? Let’s check out my top picks.

Ryan Blaney (+1000) 

Ryan Blaney has been one of the top drivers this season. Blaney has yet to win, but he sits second in the standings with six top 10 finishes. It’s surprising that Blaney hasn’t visited victory lane in 2022, but that could change at Talladega.

It took Blaney a while to master superspeedway racing, but he has become one of the top superspeedway drivers. He only finished top 10 in two of his first ten starts at Talladega, but he turned things around in 2019. That started an impressive run at the track.

  Finishing Position Laps Led
2019 1st 35
2020 1st 63
2020 25th 10
2021 9th 11
2021 15th 0

Blaney passed Ryan Newman on the final lap to win the Fall 2019 race at Talladega. He went back-to-back by defeating Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in a photo finish. Blaney led a race-high 63 laps.

He hasn’t finished top-five in his last three Talladega races, but Blaney has led laps twice. Last year’s Fall race didn’t go the full distance, so I wouldn’t hold that against him.

The top NASCAR betting sites are giving Blaney a lot of respect. He should be a top contender for Talladega.

Kevin Harvick (+2000)

It wasn’t long ago that Kevin Harvick scored a runner-up finish at Richmond. I thought that might turn his season around, but he has back-to-back finishes of 14th or worse. Harvick wasn’t happy after crashing out of the Bristol Dirt race.

Harvick needs a change of pace to change his fortunes. Superspeedway racing could play right into his hands. He only has one victory at Talladega, but Harvick is consistently in contention.

Lately, we’ve seen Harvick in contention to win at Talladega, but something always gets in the way. Check out his last four finishes at the track.

  • 2020: 10th
  • 2020: 20th
  • 2021: 4th
  • 2021: 8th

His 2020 finishes don’t tell the whole story. Harvick led coming to the white flag in the Spring 2020 race but fell back on the final lap. In the Fall race, he wrecked while running third with two laps to go.

If things went differently, we could be talking about Harvick having three top-five finishes in his last four Talladega races. It’s not far-fetched to say he’ll be one of the top contenders for Sunday’s race.

Harvick needs a strong run to break out of his recent funk.

Aric Almirola (+2000) 

Do you remember when Aric Almirola opened the season with three finishes of sixth or better? That great start didn’t last, as he only has one top 10 finish in his last six starts.

Almirola has looked better than last season, but we’re waiting for him to consistently score great finishes. Talladega could mark the beginning of a strong stretch.

He has finished 15th or worse in his last three Talladega starts. However, check out his numbers in the ten Talladega races before.

  • 1 win
  • 5 top-five finishes
  • 10 top 10 finishes
  • 31 laps led
  • 4.1 average finish

It’s unheard of to have a run of ten straight top 10 finishes on a superspeedway, but Almirola achieved this from 2016 to 2020. He didn’t lead many laps, but he stayed out of trouble. That stretch also included his second career victory.

He was a non-factor in last year’s Fall race, but Almirola led 25 laps in the previous two races. He was in a crash while leading the Fall 2020 race. It goes without saying, but you have to avoid the big one at Talladega.

Almirola could be a surprise contender if he does that.

Chris Buescher (+2500)

Chris Buescher has had a solid start to the 2022 season. He has a pair of top 10 finishes, and has finished 15th in three straight races. Honestly, I expected improvement from Buescher, so his season has been a slight disappointment.

I won’t say Buescher needs a win to make the playoffs, but he should have that mentality at Talladega. It wouldn’t surprise me if Buescher picked up his second career win.

Check out his last four finishes at the track.

  • 2020: 6th
  • 2020: 22nd
  • 2021: 21st
  • 2021: 6th

Like Kevin Harvick, the finishes don’t tell the whole story with Buescher. Buescher crossed the finish line sixth in the Fall 2020 race, but a final lap penalty relegated him to a 22nd-place finish.

In last year’s Spring race, Buescher was running top 10 with five laps to go. Unfortunately, a crash on the final lap forced a disappointing finish.

Brad Keselowski’s move to Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing should help Buescher become a better superspeedway racer. Keselowski should be a good mentor, as he has six wins at Talladega.

It’s only a matter of time before Buescher wins on a superspeedway.

2022 GEICO 500 DFS Picks and Lineup

My DFS lineup from the Bristol Dirt race was pretty solid. I had three top 12 finishers, and it would’ve been better if Austin Dillon didn’t blow an engine while running top 10.

Let’s check out the top of my DFS lineup for Talladega.

Top DFS Picks for the GEICO 500

  • Joey Logano ($10,300)
  • Denny Hamlin ($9,100)
  • Brad Keselowski ($8,900)

There’s no denying Joey Logano is one of the best superspeedway racers. Logano won three Talladega races in a six-race stretch in the mid-2010s. He only has one top 10 finish in his last five starts, but his laps led make him a desirable option in DFS.

Logano has led 20+ laps in seven of his last 13 Talladega races. He’ll do anything to take the lead and control the race.

It’s amazing Denny Hamlin is only $9,100 in DFS. He’s not having a great season, but he’s an excellent superspeedway racer. Check out his numbers in the last five Talladega races.

  Finishing Position Laps Led
2019 3rd 0
2020 4th 18
2020 1st 26
2021 32nd 43
2021 7th 6

Please don’t hold his 2022 struggles against him. He should be a top contender at Talladega.

Brad Keselowski has six victories at Talladega. He leads all active drivers, and only Dale Earnhardt has more all-time.

He has led 10+ laps in eight of his last 12 Talladega races. Keselowski had a rough stretch of finishes, but he finished top two in both 2021 races. He drives for a new team, but I don’t see that slowing him down.

This could be his best chance to make the playoffs.

2022 GEICO 500 Full DFS Lineup

  • Joey Logano ($10,300)
  • Denny Hamlin ($9,100)
  • Brad Keselowski ($8,900)
  • Bubba Wallace ($8,100)
  • Michael McDowell ($6,800)
  • Erik Jones ($6,600)

Bubba Wallace is another driver that should have a higher price. Wallace picked up his first career victory in last year’s Fall race. That was his first top 15 at Talladega, but he has led 5+ laps in three straight races.

Wallace has emerged as one of the top superspeedway drivers. He should be aggressive as he aims to clinch a spot in the playoffs.

Michael McDowell’s greatest triumph may have come at Daytona, but his superspeedway success includes Talladega. He has finished top-five in two of the last five Talladega races. That includes a third-place finish in last year’s Spring race.

McDowell is coming off his second top 10 finish of the season. He likely won’t lead many laps at Talladega, but he knows how to put himself in position to win.

People might not think of Erik Jones as a top superspeedway racer, but check out his last four finishes at Talladega.

  • 2020: 5th
  • 2020: 2nd
  • 2021: 27th
  • 2021: 9th

Jones crashed on the final lap while running top 10 in last year’s Spring race. He has been quiet since nearly winning at Auto Club in February. Talladega represents an excellent chance to score a great finish.

Who Will Win the 2022 GEICO 500?

Pick
  • Ryan Blaney
    +1000

Talladega is a great race to find value, so of course I’m picking the favorite. It’s hard to argue with Ryan Blaney’s Talladega numbers. He likes to run up front and lead laps, but he’s not overaggressive. That helps him avoid the big crash.

This isn’t a race that NASCAR fans want to forget. Make sure you tune into FOX on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET. Blaney is my top pick for Sunday’s action, but you can place your bet by visiting Bovada.

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Nicholas Sterling

Nicholas has been a Sports Writer with GamblingSites.com since May 2021. He has a rich sports background, writing about NASCAR, NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, Golf, etc. Nick is always ready for a new challenge.

He enjoys rooting on D.C. sports teams, including the Commanders, Wizards, and Capitals.

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