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DFS NASCAR: Atlanta
DAILY FANTASY RUNDOWN
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This week the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to one of the fastest tracks on the circuit, Atlanta Motor Speedway. Apart from speed, this Intermediate 1.5 mile track also emphasizes drivers taking care of their cars to make sure they have tires and fuel to last until the end. Drivers that don’t take care of their cars will likely crash from a flat tire or lose many positions on the track due to running out of fuel.

Top Picks for Atlanta

Jimmie Johnson ($10,600) is looking for his third consecutive Atlanta win to become the first driver ever to accomplish the feat in the history of the Cup Series. In 25 starts at AMS, Johnson has five wins, which is the most of active drivers, and 16 Top 10 finishes with 583 laps led and only two DNFs.

Since 2005, Johnson has the highest Driver Rating of 107.1, the third best Average Finishing Position of 9.6, and 84.8% laps in the Top 15, which ranks No. 1 out of all active drivers. In the last three Atlanta races, Johnson has the second-best DR of 118.5, 144 laps led, and an Average finish of 2.0, which is the best of all active drivers. Johnson will start 18th in this Atlanta race, which gives him Place Differential potential. Even though Johnson is the most expensive driver to build your lineups around this week, he is well worth the price.

Kevin Harvick’s ($10,200) very first career win came at Atlanta 16 years ago. In 26 starts at the site, Harvick has one win, 11 top 10 finishes, four DNFs, and 679 laps led. Since 2005, Harvick has the seventh-best Driver Rating of 94.7, an Average Finish of 14.9, which is seventh-best, 620 laps led, which is the most of active drivers, and the best DR in the last three Atlanta races (130.7). Harvick also has the pole position, which gives him a great opportunity to lead a lot of laps in the early part of this race. Harvick also notably been one of the best drivers to start on Intermediate tracks over the past few seasons and this week is no exception, as he is one of the best prime picks, second best behind Johnson.

Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch ($10,400) is looking to rebound after a less than stellar Daytona 500 start. The younger Busch brother is starting third and was third fastest in first practice. In 18 starts at the site, Rowdy has two wins, six Top 10 finishes, and 423 laps led with one DNF. Since 2005, Busch has 570 Quality Passes (passes in the Top 15 under green flag conditions) which is sixth-best, the eighth-best DR of 93.1, and 61.7% laps in the Top 15, which is 10th best. Rowdy has a pretty high asking price this week, but has been strong before at Atlanta. In the $10,000 range, however, I would consider him a tournament play, since he’s only won twice at the site and has finished inside the Top 10 in only a third of his overall starts.

Furniture Row Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. ($9,800) has seen success on many Intermediate 1.5 mile tracks over the past few seasons and is looking to add an Atlanta win to his list of accomplishments. Truex starts ninth and was 11th quickest in first practice. In 18 starts, Truex has never won a race at Atlanta, but has six Top 10 finishes, 281 laps led, and 4 DNFs. Since 2005, Truex has 717 Quality Passes, which is the most of all active drivers, an ARP of 11.3 which is third best, and a DR of 92.4 which is ninth-best. Truex may have never won at Atlanta before, but makes a great case as a pick just under $10,000.

Hendrick Motorsports has won more races than any other team in the history of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, and Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($9,500), Chase Elliott ($9,200), and Kasey Kahne ($8,000) are all looking to give the organization its fourth Atlanta victory in a row.

Dale Jr. was eighth fastest in final practice and will be starting 12th. In 29 starts at Atlanta, he has one victory, 14 Top 10 finishes, 633 laps led and two DNFs. He also has the fourth-best AF of 11.2, 650 Quality Passes, which is the third-best of active drivers, 68.4% laps ran in the Top 15, which is the sixth most, and a DR of 95.1 which is sixth-best. Earnhardt has very favorable history at Atlanta and is a high quality choice.

Elliott looked to be on his way to winning the Daytona 500 last week until he ran out of fuel. He’s looking to win in his home state for the first time ever. Elliott only has one previous start at Atlanta, in which he started 24th and finished eighth. With Elliott starting 11th and as one of the lower values in the $9,000 range, he is a pick that might potentially be great, but only one start at AMS shows he doesn’t have the experience. He might best be used as a tournament play even though he was fastest in final practice.

Kasey Kahne was the seventh fastest driver in both first and final practices. He returns to the site of his most recent victory in his career, in 2014. Kahne has three wins, nine Top 10 finishes, and three DNFs in 20 starts at AMS. Kahne has 456 Quality Passes, which is ninth-most, an ARP of 17.3 which is 11th best, and 263 Fastest Laps, which is third-best, with the 11th best DR of 86.1 since 2005. Kahne starts 29th, which gives him a high chance of great Place Differential. With his friendly salary and history at the track, Kahne is one of the ideal secondary picks for Atlanta.

Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Kenseth ($8,600) has never won at Atlanta but has come close on numerous occasions, collecting 16 Top 10 finishes in 28 starts. Kenseth has the second-best DR of 98.3, an AF of 9.1, which is second-best, and 69.4% laps in the Top 15, which is fifth-best. Since Kenseth has never won at AMS and starts 16th, he will be one of the more overlooked drivers. But having one of the faster cars throughout pre-race events and his history at the site makes him an essential secondary pick to be coupled with drivers like Johnson and Harvick.

Daytona 500 winner Kurt Busch ($8,800) has three victories, 11 Top 10 finishes, and 749 laps led with three DNFs. Busch has an AF of 14.0, which is sixth-best, 608 Quality Passes, which is fifth-best, and a DR of 95.4 which is fifth-best since 2005. Busch also was third fastest in final practice. Kurt Busch’s last victory at Atlanta was in 2010, but he is the best pick of the $8,000 range behind Kenseth.

Richard Childress Racing driver Ryan Newman ($7,600) was one of the fastest drivers throughout pre-race events, as he was fastest in first practice and sixth in final practice and qualified second. Newman only has two Top 5 finishes throughout 24 AMS starts, but he’s also finished in the Top 10 nine times. Newman is a quality value pick below $8,000 that will have a high chance of providing a Top 5 finish.

Bargain Picks ($7,500) or Less

Ryan Blaney ($7,200) is starting 14th. Blaney has only one previous start at the site, in which he started 23rd and finished 25th. Throughout that race last season, Blaney had an Average Running Position of 14.9 but finished two laps down. After finishing second in the Daytona 500, Blaney has recent momentum and a low salary, making him one of the top bargains this week.

Roush Fenway Racing driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr ($6,900) is starting fourth. In four previous starts at AMS, Stenhouse has three finishes inside the Top 20 with 31% of laps in the Top 15 with an ARP of 19.4. Stenhouse is starting close to the front of the pack, which might make owners think that he will drop back and end up with a negative place differential. However, Stenhouse will make good use of his value based on speeds in pre-race events and his history.

Aric Almirola ($6,800) starts in the 30th position, which gives him great potential for Place Differential. In his last three starts, Almirola finished inside of the Top 15. Almirola also has 21 of the Fastest laps in six starts and looked solid during pre-race events. Almirola is one of the absolute best value picks under $7,000.

A.J. Allmendinger ($6,500) is still looking for his first win on an oval track. He has three Top 10 finishes in 11 previous starts. He has 303 Quality Passes, and an ARP of 20.4, and he was fourth quickest in final practice. Allmendinger is one of the top low value picks.

Ty Dillon ($6,100) has made two previous starts at Atlanta with two different teams. Both times, Dillon finished ahead of where he started and he will be starting 26th, which gives him another chance to add some place differential points. Ty Dillon was 20th quickest in final practice. He is lock for a Top 20 finish, making him one of the very best bargain picks.

Sean Engel’s DraftKings Lineup for Atlanta

1: Jimmie Johnson ($10,600)

2: Kevin Harvick ($10,200)

3: Matt Kenseth ($8,600)

4: Ryan Newman ($7,600)

5: Aric Almirola ($6,800)

6: Ty Dillon ($6,100)

Top 15 Drivers Overall for Atlanta – Based on Combination of Projected Performance and Value

1: Jimmie Johnson ($10,600)

2: Matt Kenseth ($8,600)

3: Kevin Harvick ($10,200)

4: Aric Almirola ($6,800)

5: Ryan Newman ($7,600)

6: A.J. Allmendinger ($6,500)

7: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($6,800)

8: Kasey Kahne ($8,000)

9: Ty Dillon ($6,100)

10: Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($9,500)

11: Kurt Busch ($8,800)

12: Martin Truex Jr. ($9,800)

13: Ryan Blaney ($7,200)

14: Chase Elliott ($9,200)

15: Kyle Busch ($10,400)

Sean Engel is a five-time DraftKings NASCAR tournament winner with eight Top 3 finishes and 12 Top 5 showings. He is the co-host of the Father and Son Fantasy NASCAR Hour on FNTSY Sports Radio.

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