Atlanta Motor Speedway is the site of this weekend’s Folds of Honor Quiktrip 500, the second race of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. This is the first race at an Intermediate track this season, so now we will see more authentic results than the randomness of what we observed at Daytona. Here are the standout picks for this week’s races.
Post Final Practice Update: Ryan Newman ($6,900) was first in final practice. He has nine Top 10 finishes in 26 starts at Atlanta. Newman was 12th in first practice and starts second. Watch for Newman to finish in the Top 10. Kyle Busch and Paul Menard had the second and third-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice, respectively. Menard also was third in final practice, which makes him a very good pick. He will compete for a Top 5 finish.
Chris Buescher ($5,900) was seventh in final practice and 19th in first practice. He starts 24th, which also is his best career finish at AMS in two starts. Buescher will score a new personal best finish in the Top 15 as indicated by his practice speeds, making him one of the best value picks. All other driver outlooks remain much the same.
Also note that the starting time of the race was moved up to 1 pm ET because of weather concerns.
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,400 on DraftKings) dominated at Intermediate tracks last season with seven wins, the most by any driver. In 19 starts at Atlanta, Truex has seven Top 10 finishes, which include five of his last six starts at the site. Since 2005 at Atlanta, Truex has the third-best Average Running Position of 11.1, the second-most Laps in the Top 15 at 4,643, and the sixth-best Driver Rating at 93.0. Truex was 10th in first practice and starts 35th after failing pre-qualifying inspection. His strong performances in recent races at Atlanta and his starting position makes him an apparent must-start for your lineup.
Atlanta is the site of Kevin Harvick’s ($10,100) first Cup Series victory in 2001, but he has come close many other times. In 27 starts at the site, Harvick has one win, 12 Top 10 finishes, six Top 5s and 971 Laps Led, which is the most of active drivers. Since 2005 at Atlanta, Harvick has the seventh-best ARP of 12.7, the most Fastest Laps at 439, the third-most Laps in the Top 15 at 4,000, and the third-best DR of 97.0. Harvick starts third and was seventh in first practice. Harvick has led the most laps in the last four Atlanta races and has shown speeds better than most this week. Watch for Harvick to lead laps and finish in the Top 5.
Kyle Larson ($10,000) was the runner-up in last year’s race at Atlanta. In four starts at the site, Larson has two Top 10 finishes. He was second in first practice and starts eighth. Larson was great at Intermediate tracks last season with four runner-up finishes and displayed better speed than most in first practice. Do not be surprised if Larson finishes in the Top 5.
Kyle Busch ($9,700) has finished 16th or better in his last five Atlanta starts. In 19 starts, Busch has two wins and six Top 10 finishes, including three in his last five starts at the site. He has the fifth-most Quality Passes (Passes of cars in the Top 15 under green flag conditions) at 586, the fourth-most Laps Led at 428, and the eighth-best DR of 91.7. Busch also starts first, which allows him to easily gain points from leading laps.
Chase Elliott ($9,500) is a very good pick for your lineups. In two starts at Atlanta, Elliott has two Top 10 finishes, the best ARP of 7.0, the best Average Finishing Position of 6.5, and the second-best DR of 105.2. He starts 27th and has finished ahead of his starting position in both of his previous events at Atlanta. He is an obvious choice for PD potential.
Denny Hamlin ($9,300) has mixed history at Atlanta, but will still be a solid choice. In 18 starts, Hamlin has one win and six Top 10 finishes. Since 2005 at Atlanta, Hamlin has the sixth-best ARP of 12.6, the third-most Fastest Laps at 297, and the fifth-best DR of 93.9. Hamlin starts 12th and was sixth in first practice. Hamlin’s first practice speed points to a Top 10 finish.
MID-RANGE PRICED PICKS
Ryan Blaney ($8,400) scored Top 10 finishes in six races at Intermediate tracks last season. In two starts at Atlanta, Blaney’s best finish is 18th. He starts 26th and was 25th in first practice, but he is riding in better equipment than previous seasons and he has improved at Intermediate tracks since last year. Look for Blaney to score a new best finish in the Top 15 while gaining points from Place Differential.
Alex Bowman ($7,900) will make his first start at Atlanta with Hendrick Motorsports. In two starts at the site, Bowman’s best finish is 23rd. He starts 18th and was fifth in first practice. When Bowman filled in for Dale Earnhardt Jr in 2016, he scored two Top 10 finishes at Intermediate tracks in the #88 car. Expect Bowman to collect another Top 10 based on his first practice speed and the improved equipment he is riding in since his last start at Atlanta.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,200) has one Top 10 finish in five starts at Atlanta, but only one finish outside of the Top 20 at the site. He starts sixth and was first in first practice. Stenhouse also had the fourth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in first practice. His speed in first practice looked better than most. Stenhouse consistently finished in the Top 15 last season at Intermediate tracks. Watch for Stenhouse to finish around his starting position based on his first practice speed.
Paul Menard ($6,800) has three Top 10 finishes in 16 starts at Atlanta. Menard was 15th in first practice and starts 15th. Menard joined Wood Brothers Racing this season, which will provide him with better equipment. Look for Menard to finish around his starting position based on his first practice speed, making him a solid value pick.
Ty Dillon ($6,500) has finished ahead of his starting position in his three Atlanta starts. He has two Top 20 finishes at the site. He was fourth in first practice and starts 28th. Dillon’s first practice speed indicates a finish in the Top 20.
Darrell Wallace Jr. ($6,300) will make his first Cup Series start at AMS. Last season, he made a start at Kentucky, which is also an Intermediate track, and finished 11th. He has three starts at the site in the Xfinity Series, where his best finish was sixth. Wallace was third in first practice and starts 19th. Based on his first practice speed, Wallace will finish ahead of his starting position.
XFINITY SERIES PREVIEW FOR RINNAI 250
Post-Qualifying Saturday Update: Christopher Bell won the pole for the race. He continued to show good speed compared to the rest of the field after finishing first in first practice and second in final practice. Bell will lead the most laps because of his practice speeds. Tyler Reddick ($8,600) qualified 11th. He was sixth in first practice and seventh in final practice. Reddick will finish in the Top 10 based on his practice speeds.
Ty Dillon ($9,500) will start 16th. He has three Top 10 finishes in four starts at Atlanta. Dillon was 16th in first practice and fourth in final practice. Dillon’s practice speeds point to a Top 10 finish, making him a nice pick that will earn points through PD. All other driver outlooks remain much the same.
Kevin Harvick ($10,900 on DraftKings) has four wins at the site, which is the most of active drivers. He is one of the obvious favorites due to his history at Atlanta, and was fifth in first practice. He had the fourth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Joey Logano ($10,800) is another great choice. He was second in his last two Atlanta starts, was second in first practice and 11th in final practice. Logano’s practice speeds point to a very good finish regardless of starting position.
Cole Custer ($9,200) was third in both practices and finished 10th in his only start at Atlanta. His practice speeds indicate a Top 5 finish just like rookie Christopher Bell ($9,000), who was first in first practice and second in final practice. John Hunter Nemechek ($7,300), is making his Xfinity Series debut this week and was eighth in first practice and first in final practice. His practice speeds point to a Top 5 finish. Kyle Benjamin ($7,100), is another solid choice. Benjamin was ninth in first practice and 10th in final practice. Watch for him to finish in the Top 10.
To save on salary, look at Spencer Gallagher ($6,900), J.J. Yeley ($6,700), and Jeremy Clements ($6,500) to round out your lineups. Gallagher was 12th in first practice and 18th in final practice. Yeley has three Top 20 finishes in his last four Atlanta starts and he was 16th in final practice. Clements has six finishes of 23rd or better in eight Atlanta starts. He was 10th in first practice and 22nd in final practice.