The Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway is set for this Sunday afternoon, March 21st at 3:00 PM. Tune in on Fox Sports 1, MRN radio, or SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 to catch the action.
Welcome back to the east coast! NASCAR is in Atlanta, Georgia, this week on a 1.5-mile quad oval. Tires are the key factor here, as this track has a very aged asphalt surface and will chew tires up like a cheese grater. No other track on the schedule is this coarse. Young drivers should not be fooled by its extra grip and push hard early in a run - if they do, expect frequent pit stops for fresh Goodyears. Last week recap:
Kyle Larson (-109 DraftKings) vs. Joey Logano: It was up and down all day, and late caution pit stops proved to be the difference for this driver vs. driver matchup bet last weekend. Logano gained a lot of positions during the yellow flag pit stops on lap 263, and he entered 5th and left 2nd. Larson entered 2nd and left 5th during the same stop, and Logano retained 2nd place for the rest of the race – Loss
Brad Keselowski (-108 FanDuel) vs. Kevin Harvick: This one wasn’t much of a sweat, as Brad Keselowski didn’t have the best car but did post a 5th place finish. Kevin Harvick struggled to find speed, but he still managed to finished 7th overall. The final race result looked a lot closer than it was here tough. - Win
Kyle Larson Top 5 Finish (+135 DraftKings): What a wild day for Kyle Larson. He failed pre-race inspection and had to start in the back. Larson was then in 14th by the competition caution on lap 30 before he got his first pit road speeding violation. After restarting in the back, he worked his way up to second place by lap 142 when he was caught for his second pit road speeding violation. After serving his penalty, he was able to finish out the rest of the race mistake free. Larson passed 37 lead lap cars on Sunday, the most out of any driver. If he didn’t have all of those mistakes, he could've been a top contender all day. – Loss
Drivers to Look Out For
Kevin Harvick: Kevin Harvick has been very strong at this track. In the last 30 races at Atlanta Motor Speedway he has 15 top 10 finishes, nine top 5 finishes, and three wins. When the race was in June last year this track was hot and slick, and that did not favor Harvick. Once the track cooled down in stage 3, however, Harvick roared back, hooking the bottom (which he has become famous for) and coming away with a win. The cool weather will favor Harvick here on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. as well.
Kyle Busch: In his last five races, Kyle Busch has posted four top 10 finishes, and he had a strong car last year, running 90% of his laps inside the top 5. Busch needs a rebound after a tough outing at Phoenix last week, so in turn I look for the #18 M&M’s car to be making big strides at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Brad Keselowski: Brad Keselowski hasn’t finished outside of the top-10 since 2014. Even with all the car changes and different rules packages, he has run well here. Keselowski won here actually in both in 2017 and 2019. Last year he didn’t have the best car, but still managed to run 23% of his laps inside the top 5. If he can come away with another top 5 Sunday, that is a step in the right direction for a contract extension.
Best Value Bets
Kyle Busch (-109 DraftKings) vs. Joey Logano: This is the spot we want Kyle Busch in. It has been no secret that Busch has not been his dominant self. Why? He has cited the lack of practice being the main reason. The M&M’s team was great at fine-tuning their car over the practice weekend before the race, but now with no practice (because of COVID-19) I believe that a long 500 mile race is exactly what Busch needs. It also gives him time to make the right adjustments to surge in stage 3. Busch has finished 41% of all his Atlanta races inside the top 10, while Logano has done so 36% of the time. Busch has also finished 27% of the time inside the top 5 compared to Logano’s 14%. Looking at the last three races between these two at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Busch has actually won all the head-to-head matchups. Take the dog.
Kevin Harvick Top 5 Finish (Yes -115 DraftKings): Managing tires is going to be key this weekend. If you push too hard early in a run, tires will shred to pieces. So who has the best finish among active drivers at high tire wear tracks? Kevin Harvick. This is a veteran track, and drivers need experience to manage it correctly. Harvick has that experience. In his last three races at Atlanta Motor Speedway he has posted finishes of first, fourth and first place overall. “Happy” Harvick will be very strong on Sunday afternoon.
Manufacturer of Winning Car (Ford, +155 DraftKings): Only three manufacturers in the Cup Series - and Ford - have won the last four races here. It has been the Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski show the last four years (each winning two), and I believe the cool weather will also favorite Keselowski teammate Ryan Blaney. I see Ford taking this one down either way, so grab it at the +155 plus odds while you can.