Top oddsmakers unanimous: Dale Earnhardt Jr. favored to win at Talladega

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With 36 races on the schedule, let’s face it: odds on who is going to win a particular race are pretty much the same from race to race.

(And it’s usually Jimmie Johnson – or it just seems that way.)

But every so often, the oddsmakers and their predictions catch our eye for big races like the Daytona 500, Brickyard 400 and the spring race at Talladega.

Well, it’s spring and this weekend is the Aaron’s 499 at NASCAR’s largest high-speed oval (2.66 miles), and one of the biggest oddsmakers – Linemakers.com – is picking Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the 10-1 favorite in Sunday’s race.

No surprise, Junior won NASCAR’s last restrictor plate race, the season-opening Daytona 500.

But what is surprising is that Junior is the odds-on pick to win even though he hasn’t reached victory lane at ‘Dega in nearly 10 years!

(It sure doesn’t seem that long – unless you’re a long-suffering Junior fan, and then it probably seems like 10 decades, not years.)

Despite his nearly decade-long winless streak at ‘Dega, Earnhardt has a career-best five wins in 28 starts at Talladega (coming in his first 10 starts there), along with four runner-up finishes, including last fall’s race there.

Linemakers.com isn’t the only big oddsmaker picking Earnhardt to win. So, too, are three of the other biggest: TheSpread.com, Bovada.lv and the Glantz-Culver Line, all who also have Junior at 10-1 odds.

Before we get to some of the key picks for Sunday’s race, let’s not forget that Talladega can produce some real longshots taking the checkered flag, like David Ragan in last spring’s race there (he was a 75-to-1 shot), and Jamie McMurray at 20-1 in last fall’s Chase race there.

Here’s Linemakers.com’s driver odds for winning Sunday’s Aaron’s 499:

10-1: Dale Earnhardt Jr. 10-1

12-1: Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart

18-1: Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer

20-1: Kyle Larson, Kurt Busch and Greg Biffle

25-1: Ryan Newman and Jamie McMurray

30-1: Brian Vickers

40-1: Michael Waltrip and Paul Menard

50-1: Martin Truex Jr., Austin Dillon and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

75-1: Aric Almirola, Marcos Ambrose, AJ Allmendinger, David Ragan, Casey Mears, Justin Allgaier and Danica Patrick

100-1: Trevor Bayne and David Gilliland

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Rebellion confirms LMP1 return, all-star line-up for WEC super season

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Rebellion Racing has confirmed it will return to the LMP1 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship for the 2018/19 ‘super season’ with an all-star line-up featuring Le Mans winners Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer.

Rebellion raced in LMP1 as a privateer between 2009 and 2016 before stepping down to LMP2 for the most recent season, capturing the class titles at the first attempt.

Following a push from the WEC and Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) to make LMP1 more appealing to privateer teams, Rebellion announced on Wednesday it would return to the premier class for the 2018/19 season with a two-car effort.

WEC LMP2 champion Bruno Senna will return with Rebellion next year, as will Mathias Beche, with the pair set to be joined by four new faces.

The most notable arrivals are Porsche factory drivers Lotterer and Jani, both of whom were left without an LMP1 drive following the closure of the German manufacturer’s program at the end of the season.

American racer Gustavo Menezes will also join Rebellion, stepping up after two years in LMP2, while outstanding 2017 rookie Thomas Laurent completes the Swiss team’s line-up.

“I am looking forward to coming back where my endurance career started nine years ago,” said Jani.

“Rebellion Racing played a huge role in my career and also helped me become a factory driver for Porsche. When Porsche stopped in LMP1, it was clear for me that I wanted to race again for Rebellion.

“With the new regulations, I hope we can reach the overall podium at Le Mans and with a bit of luck, maybe we can even grab some wins during the super season of WEC.”

“I am very happy to join the champion Rebellion team,” added three-time Le Mans winner Lotterer.

“The LMP1 project is very exciting and to be able to go on with the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA WEC challenge is something I did not want to miss.

“I am motivated and looking forward to have a great time with great people there.”