Spring Talladega winner Kyle Busch needs another win

Kyle Busch may need a Talladega sweep to advance to the third round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

Busch (+1600 to win Sunday) crashed out of last week’s race at Texas and finished 34th out of 36 cars. He enters the second race of the second round (2 p.m. ET, NBC) last among the 12 playoff drivers and is currently 17 points outside the top eight.

Talladega success is much easier said than done, however. Busch’s win in the spring at the track was his first since he won the spring race in 2008. Busch entered 2023 with just four top-10 finishes in his last 14 Talladega races.

FORT WORTH, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 24: Kyle Busch, driver of the #8 3CHI Chevrolet, enters pit road during the NASCAR Cup Series Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway on September 24, 2023 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Kyle Busch crashed out of the NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Texas. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) (Jonathan Bachman via Getty Images)

The 2.66-mile track’s pack-racing nature and its relative randomness can be the place for a quick turnaround. Talladega does not care about recent form. And Busch’s recent form has been awful. Since winning three times over the first 15 races of 2023 and ripping off seven consecutive top 10s over the summer, Busch has four finishes outside the top 30 in his last 11 starts and just three top 20s in that span.

Simply put, Busch hasn’t been good enough lately to be considered a title contender. Maybe that will change on Sunday. But we wouldn’t bet on it.

Here’s what you need to know to bet the race. All odds are from BetMGM.

The favorites

  • Brad Keselowski (+1000)

  • Denny Hamlin (+1000)

  • Joey Logano (+1100)

  • Ryan Blaney (+1200)

  • Chase Elliott (+1400)

  • Bubba Wallace (+1400)

You’ll notice that no driver is better than 10-1 to win on Sunday. Talladega is the place to make small bets on multiple drivers and cover a lot of bases. Keselowski has six wins in 29 starts and 14 top-10 finishes. Hamlin has won twice at Talladega and has 15 top 10s in 35 starts. Logano has three wins and nine top fives in 29 Talladega races while Blaney has two wins and seven top 10s in 18 starts.

Elliott has the best average finish of any driver with five or more starts at Talladega (14.1) and has won twice in 15 starts. Talladega is the site of Wallace’s first carer win but that’s also his only top-10 finish in 11 starts at the track.

Good mid-tier value

  • Christopher Bell (+2200)

  • Tyler Reddick (+2500)

These are two of the playoff drivers with the lowest odds. Bell has a top five and two top 10s in seven starts while Reddick has two top 10s in seven starts.

Don’t bet this driver

Almirola has a win and nine top 10s in 27 Talladega starts but there’s nothing that makes us believe he’ll play playoff spoiler on Sunday.

Looking for a long shot?

Dillon has five top-10 finishes in 20 starts at Talladega and has won at Daytona twice. He’s worth a flier at these odds.