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Whitney Dillon, left, kisses her husband, NASCAR Cup Series driver Austin Dillon after he captured the pole in qualifying for a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Talladega Superspeedway on April 27, 2019.
Whitney Dillon, left, kisses her husband, NASCAR Cup Series driver Austin Dillon after he captured the pole in qualifying for a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Talladega Superspeedway on April 27, 2019.|Julie Bennett | Associated Press
NASCAR

NASCAR: Can Kyle Busch dominate? Eckel navigates Sunday’s Geico 500 at Talladega Speedway and shares his, and his expert friends, picks

Mark Eckel

Talladega is known as the most unpredictable of the races in the NASCAR series and Sunday’s Geico 500 at Talladega Speedway could be the most unpredictable.

With new rule changes and he first race of the season with no restriction plats it’s anyone’s guess (we’ll guess later) who gets to victory lane.

“Here's where the fun lies is the unknown. I think it might be insane, but I don't know," Clint Bowyer said with a laugh to Nascar.com. “That's the thing, shoot, it's going to be different, no question, but again you have that preconceived notion in all of us that formulates that opinion and be quick to formulate an opinion of what you think it's going to be like. Everybody's going to be beating on the door pretty hard. You're going to be forced to block, and I think that's where the trouble is going to happen.”

There is no clear-cut favorite in the race and even the series most dominating driver in 2019, Kyle Busch is 10-1.

Kyle has never won at Talladega but has won six races after a bye week. No current driver has more than one win after a bye.

Ford has been the dominant car at Talladega recently and thus far in the ’19 season. The Chevy drivers are out to stop that this week.

“I think for us, we obviously as a group at Chevrolet, we want to break that up and do a better job,” Chase Elliott told Nascar.com. “I look forward to the challenge. I certainly respect them and what they have done and being able to stick together. I don’t necessary like it.”

Elliott and the rest of the drivers, Ford and Chevy, will use a new aero package this weekend. The cars have shed the restrictor plates to add more drag and more horsepower.

“I think the attitudes and aggression levels of how people want to act on Sunday is probably going to decide how the race unfolds,” Elliott said. “I think that is up to us and how we wake up on Sunday and want to be. That’s just kind of part of it.”

Here’s how our experts see the race.

My Picks

Joey Logano (8-1): The last driver to repeat at Talladega was Jeff Gordon in 2004-05, but Logano, coming out of the eight position, has a chance.

Chase Elliott (14-1): The young driver seems determined and a third-place finish here last year gives him confidence. Was hoping to get conformation here from Mike “Left Turn’’ Sweeney, but he never picks a guy named Chase.

Rickey Stenhouse Jr. (18-1): He won here in 2017 and came in fifth last year. He also looked good qualifying. Take a chance at a nice price.

Mike “Left Turn’’ Sweeney

Kurt Busch (18-1): He finished his best-ever second here last year.

Joey Logano (8-1): See above

Longshot Play: David Ragen (100-1): “LT’’ says, ‘take a shot.’

Scott “Tobacco Road’’ Baker

Brian Keselowski (8-1): He’s won here five different times, so he knows the track.

Joey Logano (8-1): One driver we all agree will be in the mix.

Clint Bowyer (10-1): It would be his first trip here in victory lane.