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The Cup series heads to Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday for the 2019 GEICO 500, with the green flag dropping at 2 p.m. ET. It’s a new era of racing at NASCAR’s biggest oval, with no restrictor plates for the first time in three decades. As a result, there are a whopping 15 drivers with 20-1 NASCAR at Talladega odds or better. Joey Logano won this race last year and is the co-favorite with 8-1 GEICO 500 odds. He’ll begin eighth in the 2019 NASCAR at Talladega grid. Last year’s runner-up, Kurt Busch, is going off at 18-1 and will begin in 14th. Meanwhile, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., who defeated Jamie McMurray in the GEICO 500 in 2017, is listed at 18-1 and will start in sixth. You’ll want to see the latest NASCAR predictions from handicapper Micah Roberts, the legendary Vegas bookmaker who pioneered wagering on racing, before making your own 2019 GEICO 500 picks.
Roberts went with Jimmie Johnson as a hefty 25-1 long shot at the season-opening Advance Auto Parts Clash. The result: Johnson survived a huge crash and went on to win the rain-shortened race as Roberts’ followers raked it in. At the TicketGuardian 500 in Phoenix last month, Roberts nailed Busch at 4-1 odds over the heavily favored Harvick, and got an eye-popping eight of the top 10 right. At the Auto Club 400, he had nine of the top 10 correct.
Roberts entered the 2019 NASCAR season after finishing big-time in the black in 2018. Those who wagered $100 on each of his picks last year have $1,750 in profit to show for it. His biggest wins came when he went against the grain, taking Keselowski at 12-1 to win the South Point 400 at Las Vegas in the opening race of the NASCAR playoffs and going with Logano, also 12-1, to take the First Data 500 at Martinsville. He also nailed four of Harvick’s nine series victories and three of Busch’s nine wins. Anyone who’s following his picks is up huge year after year.
Now, he has analyzed Sunday’s GEICO 500 lineup from every possible angle and locked in his top 2019 NASCAR at Talladega picks. You can see them at SportsLine.
We can tell you he’s not going with Kyle Busch, the Cup Series points leader with three victories on the year already. Talladega has been a nightmare for Busch — his average finish in 27 career races there is 21st — and Roberts doesn’t see that changing on Sunday. In fact, Roberts says Busch doesn’t even crack the top 20.
Another surprise: Roberts is backing Stenhouse, Jr., a darkhorse at 18-1 NASCAR odds to win at Talladega. He won on this track in 2017 and Roberts says he possesses the aggressive demeanor that could help him make plenty of noise again on Sunday.
“I appreciate Stenhouse willing to wreck anyone late for the win while also understanding that he’s not on many drivers’ Christmas card mailing list because he’s so aggressive,” Roberts told SportsLine. “He doesn’t have many friends, which could hurt him in the draft, but he leads all active drivers at Talladega with a 10.6 average finish, which includes a 2017 win.” Stenhouse was the runner-up in the first Duel at Daytona and also finished sixth at Las Vegas after starting ninth. He’s led laps in four different races this season.
For the win, Roberts is eyeing an underdog with double-digit odds to shock the field and win the 2019 GEICO 500. His NASCAR picks and projected leaderboard will surprise many, but anyone who backs this long shot could hit a massive payday.