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April 19, 2023

Advance to Victory Lane: Talladega in focus as Blaney eyes breakthrough win


Ryan Blaney adjusts his helmet as he gets ready for practice at Martinsville Speedway.
Sean Gardner
Getty Images

Ryan Blaney’s 55-race winless streak is the second-longest dry spell of his career, but if there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, then it comes in the form of Talladega Superspeedway and Sunday’s GEICO 500 (3 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

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Blaney has won two of the last seven races on the high banks of the 2.66-mile track, and he finished runner-up there last fall. He has been strong overall on drafting tracks with three straight top-10 finishes — the longest streak among active drivers.

While Talladega certainly brings out the unpredictable on a regular basis, the one constant seems to be Blaney. And based largely on that strong history, Racing Insights’ formula for predicting races favors him this week.

OTHERS TO WATCH

ROSS CHASTAIN: He finished first and fourth last year at Talladega and was the only driver to finish in the top five in both races.

MARTIN TRUEX JR.: He has two straight finishes of seventh or better this season, and he finished fifth in this race last year.

KEVIN HARVICK: He has three top-10 finishes in the last four races at Talladega and will be making his 800th career start in the Cup Series.

CHASE ELLIOTT: Fresh off a top-10 finish in his first race back from a leg injury, Elliott has led laps in six of the last eight Talladega races.

DENNY HAMLIN: His fourth-place finish last week at Martinsville was his first top five this season. At Talladega, he has five finishes of seventh or better in the last seven races.

Projections as of Wednesday, April 19.

RACING INSIGHTS’ PROJECTIONS FOR GEICO 500

Finish Car No. Driver
1 12 Ryan Blaney
2 1 Ross Chastain
3 19 Martin Truex Jr.
4 4 Kevin Harvick
5 9 Chase Elliott
6 11 Denny Hamlin
7 5 Kyle Larson
8 24 William Byron
9 8 Kyle Busch
10 22 Joey Logano
11 6 Brad Keselowski
12 23 Bubba Wallace
13 43 Erik Jones
14 2 Austin Cindric
15 14 Chase Briscoe
16 48 Alex Bowman
17 20 Christopher Bell
18 34 Michael McDowell
19 99 Daniel Suárez
20 3 Austin Dillon
21 10 Aric Almirola
22 17 Chris Buescher
23 7 Corey LaJoie
24 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
25 45 Tyler Reddick
26 41 Ryan Preece
27 54 Ty Gibbs
28 31 Justin Haley
29 36 Todd Gilliland
30 77 Ty Dillon
31 16 AJ Allmendinger
32 42 Noah Gragson
33 21 Harrison Burton
34 38 Zane Smith
35 78 BJ McLeod
36 15 Riley Herbst
37 51 J.J. Yeley
38 62 Austin Hill
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