Michael McDowell
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The Action Network: The long shot to bet now for Talladega

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Just like the shenanigans that take place on Talladega Boulevard, the on-track racing should be just as exciting during Sunday’s 1000Bulbs.com 500.

At any moment, pack racing at Talladega Superspeedway means the field is just one bobble away from a massive wreck that can change the entire landscape of the event.

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For the 12 drivers still alive in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, this can be a scary prospect for those toward the top of standings, while also providing a glimmer of hope for those on the outside looking in.

And, of course, a win here will lock a driver into the Round of 8 that begins Oct. 27 at Martinsville Speedway.

Because the draft acts as an equalizer between NASCAR’s haves and have-nots, underfunded cars can often find themselves running in the top 10 late and contending with the sport’s elite.

Plus, the “Big One” is always lurking, which could also take out front-runners and open the door for a sleeper to steal a victory.

After scanning 1000Bulbs.com 500 odds from the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, one long-shot driver immediately caught my eye as one to bet right now.

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For those who have followed The Action Network since the start of season, you know how much I loved Michael McDowell for the Daytona 500. I bet him twice — once at 200-1 and again at 150-1 — and he didn’t disappoint, contending for a win before ultimately finishing fifth.

While the aero package the MENCS cars will run Sunday is different from that of the Daytona 500 in February, the racing has changed very little, so McDowell is someone I still very much like.

In fact, bettors simply looking at results from Talladega in April — which did use the current aero package — will be sorely misled.

McDowell finished dead last, but it was due to being in the wrong place at the wrong time, not performance. The driver of the No. 34 Ford qualified 12th and was running in the top 10 before getting caught up in this Lap 10 accident.

McDowell was simply minding his own business in the outside lane before getting collected in an accident that had nothing to do with him. This is just the nature of pack racing at Talladega, but also a key reason why long shots can contend more often.

At the time of writing, McDowell is 100-1 at Westgate, a great number for someone so capable at superspeedways. This doesn’t mean I expect him to win, and that’s of course included in this long-shot price.

However, should this race get dicey with playoff drivers getting too aggressive, McDowell could be one of the few left standing and racing for the win when the white flag waves.