NASCAR Props Challenge Picks for Sunday’s Geico 500 at Talladega
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: NASCAR Cup Series driver Kurt Busch (41) leads the field
- NASCAR's Props Challenge game asks fans to answer 10 prop-betting questions each week, with weekly winners eligible for prizes.
- PJ Walsh offers his Props Challenge picks and analysis for Sunday's Geico 500 (2 p.m. ET, FOX) at Talladega Superspeedway.
After a week off for Easter, the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series returns with a bang at Talladega Superspeedway. Known for its party atmosphere, the action at Talladega takes place both on and off the track … and specifically in the infield.
In terms of the racing itself, NASCAR is ditching restrictor plates for a new race package, so there is plenty of uncertainty regarding what the racing will look like on the track.
Will Talladega continue to feature pack racing? Or will tandem drafting return? Maybe we’ll even see the cars get strung out? There’s only one way to find out — grab a cold one and tune into Sunday’s race.
Here are my NASCAR Props Challenge picks for Sunday’s Geico 500.
1. In his career, Ryan Blaney has scored stage points in every Talladega stage. Will his streak continue?
Not only has Blaney scored points in every Talladega stage, he owns the second-best average running position (11.3) over the last four races here. He has had trouble parlaying speed into good finishes, but luckily that’s not needed to score stage points.
2. The last six races at Talladega have seen an average of 26.3 lead changes. O/U 26.5 lead changes for Sunday’s race?
Nobody has any idea what the racing will look like on Sunday, so I could end up way off here. However, the Fall race in 2018 saw just 15 lead changes, which is skewing this average to the low side.
Answer: Over 26.5
3. Which driver will finish higher? David Ragan or Chris Buescher?
Over the last four races at Talladega, Buescher’s average running position is 23.5 compared to Ragan’s 24.5, so this is basically a coin flip. Because of the uncertainty of the rules package and no real edge in the data, I’ll bank on Ragan’s experience to be able to adapt to whatever race conditions the drivers see on Sunday.
4. Team Penske has won four of the last six Talladega races. Will they win on Sunday?
The shakeup in the rules package makes taking three cars against the entire field basically impossible.
5. O/U Ford will have 5.5 drivers finish in the top 10 at Talladega
A Ford driver has won each of the past seven races at Talladega, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll dominate the top 10, as well. Considering the new rules package and just 14 cars entered in Sunday’s race will be Fords, it’s tough to expect almost half of them to score top 10’s.
Answer: Under 5.5
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6. Which driver will score more overall race points? Brad Keselowski or Joey Logano?
This is so close that the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas has a driver matchup between Keselowski and Logano posted with each listed at -110.
Since 2017, Logano has a better average finish and average running position at Talladega, and has led more laps than Keselowski.
7. O/U Kurt Busch scores 6.5 stage points at Talladega
Because I truly don’t know what to expect in terms of the racing, there’s just no way I can force myself to predict seven or more stage points from Kurt.
Answer: Under 6.5
8. Will Sunday’s race winner start outside the top 15?
Track position seems to matter less at Talladega than other tracks, but when I looked at the numbers, I was legitimately surprised to see how many winners come from inside the top 15.
Since 2010, 15 drivers have won from a top-15 starting spot in those 18 races. In fact, Denny Hamlin, who won from 34th in May of 2014, is the only driver to win from a starting spot outside of the top 19 over that span.
9. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. leads all active drivers with an average finish of 10.6. Does he finish in the top 10 this weekend?
Only Aric Almriola (4.3) has a better average finish than Stenhouse’s 8.8 at Talladega over the past four races, yet Ricky ranks just 13th in average running position during that span.
Stenhouse has finished better than he’s actually run, and with the new race package, I’m going to err on the conservative side.
10. Will Sunday’s race winner lead O/U 10.5 laps?
Sometimes you just have to throw your hands up, admit you have no idea and make your best guess — and this is one of those situations.
Laps led for Talladega winners are all over the place and nobody has a clue as to how easy or hard passing will be on Sunday.
I’m taking the under, but that’s simply because the coin I just flipped landed tails.