The Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart at Atlanta Motor Speedway is set for Sunday, July 11 at
3:30 PM. Tune in on NBCSN, MRN radio, or SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 to catch Saturday’s race.
The Cup Series is back in Atlanta, Georgia this Sunday, and this indeed will be the last race on the old surface as it was announced earlier in the week that the track will be repaved and slight track adjustments will be made in time for next year’s events. As it stands, Atlanta is currently a 1.5-mile quad oval. Tires are the key factor here, and the track itself has a very aged asphalt surface and will chew tires up like a cheese grater. No other track on the schedule is this coarse, and young drivers here should not be fooled by its extra grip and push hard early in a run. If they do, then expect frequent pit stops for fresh Goodyears.
The last time cup drivers were here in March it was dominated by Kyle Larson, who won the first two
stages and led 269 of 325 laps. It wasn’t enough though, as Ryan Blaney passed Larson with eight laps
left to take home the victory. That Team Penske win also extended Ford’s victories at Atlanta to five
straight. A Ford victory (+155 DraftKings) was a best bet that we cashed back in March as well.
Best Bets Recap - Road America
Ryan Blaney (-112 FanDuel) vs. Kevin Harvick: Blaney was impressive during Saturday practice, but then
his car underperformed on Sunday. Good thing Harvick was just a little bit worse. Blaney finished 20th
while Harvick came in 27th . Nice to cash this ticket, but disappointed that Blaney didn’t have a better
showing. Really thought he had a car to compete for a top 10. He barley sniffed it, but we will take the win.
Twitter H2H Matchup - Daniel Suarez (+120) vs. Chase Briscoe: Well, this one was over
before the end of Stage 1. Suarez, who has been running really well this season, had transmission issues
by lap 3. His problems were so severe that he came to a complete stop before he could even nurse the car
back to the garage. Suarez finished 36th , a few laps down, while Briscoe did have an impressive run in
finishing 6th. Even if Suarez didn’t have transmission issues, it still would have been tough to compete with Briscoe as he was hitting all of his marks and had a well-tuned Stewart-Haas car in this race.
Drivers to Look Out For
Kyle Larson (+260 FanDuel): Who has been the fastest at 1.5 mile tracks this year? Kyle Larson, of
course. His worst speed rank out of the five 1.5 mile tracks NASCAR has been to this year was
Homestead, where he had the 5th fastest car. At Las Vegas, he had the 2nd fastest car. In Atlanta,
Charlotte and Kansas he had the fastest car. Speed wins in a race, as we all know, so how has Larson fared on high-tire wear tracks? You guessed it. He has also been the fastest with an average speed rank of 3.3, just ahead of his Hendrick teammate William Byron. In the last three trips to Atlanta, Larson has an average finish of 7.6. Remember though, two of those trips were when he was with Ganassi. He now has a car in which he can contend for wins and it’s showing. Never count out the #5 Hendrickcars.com car.
Kyle Busch (+850 FanDuel): I think it’s safe to say that Kyle Busch is redeeming himself after a down season last year. In the last four trips to Atlanta he has an average finish of 5. In that same span he has also finished inside the top 10, including a 2nd place finish in 2020. He is 4th in total speed rankings at 1.5 mile tracks this year and he had the 3rd fastest car in March here, right behind Larson and Blaney. He has yet to find victory lane at Atlanta, sure, although I wouldn’t be surprised though if the #18 M&M’s Toyota Camry makes a late run for the checkered flag on Sunday. Watch out for Busch to make a strong showing.
Kevin Harvick (+1200 FanDuel): This is simply Kevin Harvick's track. He is looking for the win to secure his spot in the playoffs, and in the last 30 races at Atlanta he has 15 top 10s, 9 top 5s, and 3 outright wins. In March he had issues early on that resulted in him going a lap down. He stormed back though and had a respectable 10th place finish there. Harvick will need to find more speed as well, as he had the 9th fastest car here the last time. Even at the other five 1.5 mile tracks he has an average speed rank of 10.2, and while last year was dominated by Harvick and Hamlin, neither of those drivers has won this year. I like Harvick to be the dark horse (sort of) in this spot, rather than the usual Hendrick and Gibbs drivers.
Best Value Bets
Ryan Blaney (+104 FanDuel) vs. Chase Elliott: To get the March race winner in a plus money head-to-
head matchup is great news. I know Elliott is the reigning champ and he won last week, but Blaney has
been pretty good here too. In the last two Atlanta races Blaney has simply done better than Elliott. Besides the win in March he finished 4th in June 2020, while Elliott hasn’t been as strong at Atlanta and he did have engine issues in March that resulted in a 38th place finish and 8th place finish last June. In 2019 at Atlanta, Blaney finished a clunker 22nd, and in that race he made an unexpected pit stop with 12 to go while running near the top five because of a vibration. If his race would've been incident free, there's a good chance he would likely have 3 straight top 5's here. Blaney has been slightly faster at high tire wear tracks than Elliott, with an 11.3 average speed rank compared to 13.3. They are also tied at 9.2 when comparing speeds at 1.5 mile tracks this year. Be patient for this one here, as Blaney will start 15th and Elliott will start on the pole. Blaney started 10th in his March win and 7th last June, so he can certainly move through the field. Let’s cash another ticket with the #12 Advanced Auto Parts Team Penske Ford.