NASCAR Cup Series 2021 GEICO 500 Race at Talladega Superspeedway: Preview and Prediction

Published 04/25/2021, 8:27 AM EDT
Apr 18, 2021; Richmond, Virginia, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin (11) races NASCAR Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr. (19) during the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports


The NASCAR Cup Series had a first repeat winner this season when Martin Truex Jr. bagged the checkered flag at Martinsville. However, yet another new winner was crowned last weekend as Alex Bowman won at Richmond. On Sunday, things will get even more interesting at Talladega.

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While we will wait to see if there’s a ninth different winner in 2021 after Sunday’s race, the race itself will provide a lot of action and enthralling moments, as is always the case at Talladega.

Apr 10, 2021; Martinsville, Virginia, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin (11) races at the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Ryan Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

As Denny Hamlin searches for his first win this year, he starts on the pole at a track where he won the playoff race last season. On the back of two total wins at the track, and four top-five finishes in the last five races, Hamlin is certainly a favorite on Sunday, as he has been at most tracks off late.

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Who are the other favorites in the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500?

Joining him on the front row is Joey Logano, who has not had the best of times at Talladega in his last three races at the track. However, before that came his best streak there, when he had three wins in addition to three top-fives in a span of just eight races. Logano will look for his first win this season on a regular track, after winning the Bristol dirt race.

Ryan Blaney is another one of the heavy favorites at Talladega. While he has had some mixed results there over the course of his career, the Penske driver has two wins in his last three runs at Dega, including the regular-season win last year in one of the closest finishes ever.

Reigning Cup champ Chase Elliott is still looking for his 2021 win, and he will look back to his 2019 Talladega win for inspiration on Sunday.

TALLADEGA, AL – OCTOBER 14: Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford, and Clint Bowyer, driver of the #14 Cummins/Rush Truck Centers Ford, lead the field to the green flag to start the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 14, 2018 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

The stats suggest that Brad Keselowski is certain to make another run for the win at Talladega, on the back of five career wins. However, since his 2017 playoff win, Keselowski has finished outside the top-10 in six straight races. Kyle Busch has had a similar fate at Dega off late, a track where he has struggled traditionally.

Who could spring a surprise at Talladega?

Christopher Bell could be someone to watch out for at Talladega. While Bell himself did not have a good time there in his rookie Cup year last season, the No. 20 car finished in the top-five in both Talladega races in 2020. Additionally, a confident Bell already has a win this year.

Kyle Larson has looked like a strong contender ever since he stepped into the Hendrick No. 5 car. He is another driver who has struggled at the superspeedway, but he can’t be ruled out anywhere this season.

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Hamlin does have the bragging rights after the 2020 win at Talladega, and there is no doubt he has the bragging rights this season as the best driver. A win for the No. 11 car has been long in the waiting.

Prediction: Denny Hamlin to win at Talladega in the GEICO 500 2021.

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Aayush Majumdar

1006 articles

Aayush Majumdar is a NASCAR content strategist, a Tennis Writer, and a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. He is well-tenured as a tennis and NASCAR writer, with over 900 articles across both sports. After pursuing a Post Graduate program in Sports Management, Aayush explored various roles in Sports Media, including a Sports Reporting role at a leading English daily.

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