The NASCAR Cup Series has completed its “West Coast Swing” and now they have everything they need to go racing on the east coast… Well, maybe not. The Cup Series will compete at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday. The track has been repaved, reconfigured and now it will have a new car with a new aero package. All of the crew chiefs have been saying the same thing, “We have no idea what to expect.” Kurt Busch, Ross Chastain and Chris Buescher participated in a test at Atlanta in January so their teams should have some notes to work with, but it is going to be a learning experience for everyone else.
PRACTICE SPEEDS FOR THE FOLDS OF HONOR QUICK TRIP 500
Practice was canceled Friday and moved to Saturday. NASCAR thought it was more important to have practice than qualifying so the lineup was set using the same formula as last season and practice was held Saturday.
The teams got 50 minutes of practice to figure out their new car on the new track. The cars will use the Superspeedway aero package this week since the draft will come into play on the straight-a-ways. Most of the drivers said, although they experienced the draft in practice, the track doesn’t race completely like Daytona or Talladega. The speeds could be influenced by the draft and that makes it tougher to tell which drivers truly have the fastest cars. We cannot simply ignore the speeds though, so here are the speeds from Saturday’s practice at Atlanta….
DFS STRATEGY FOR ATLANTA
The Folds of Honor Quick Trip 500 is a long race. The typical race on a 1.5-mile track has 267 laps. The race this week will have 325 laps (500 miles). That means there will be 81.25 points available for leading laps and 146.25 points available for fastest laps in DraftKings contest (227.5 dominator points available in the race). There will be 32.5 dominator points available for your FanDuel contest. That is a lot of dominator points so we cannot ignore them.
So how do we approach such an unpredictable race? The Cash Contests should be pretty easy to construct lineups for since there is such good value starting deep in the field. I plan to play more Cash Contest lineup than usual Sunday since the drivers who start in the back will be the best picks despite how the race plays out.
My strategy for Tournaments is to play more multi-entry tournaments. Instead of playing the $12 Engine Block and the $8 Octane; I will play 20 of the $1 Happy Hour Tournament where you can play 20 lineups.
My strategy will be to build 8 lineups like a normal race with a few dominators who start up front and drivers who start in the back who can score place differential points. I will build 8 lineups like we do at Daytona where we play all of the drivers who start deep in the field and rely on place differential points to win use our contests. These lineups should cash if there are a lot of wrecks. I will also build 4 lineups with drivers who start up front and chase the dominator points. These lineups will score well if this race turns into a one-groove track. This way I have everything covered. I will post examples of each lineup below.
DraftKings Model (Prediction Based on Stats)
Finish = Finishing Points PD = Position Differential Fastest = Fastest Laps Led = Laps Led
* The number in front of the driver is his projected finishing position based on stats.
FanDuel Model (Prediction Based on Stats)
FOLDS OF HONOR QUICK TRIP 500 CORE DRIVERS
* I am listing more drivers than usual this week because we do not know how this race will play out. That brings a lot more drivers into play. I just want you to know my thoughts on each driver…
RYAN BLANEY (DK $10.7K FD $13.5K): He starts on the front row and the No. 12 car has been the fastest this season. Blaney leads the Cup Series with 190 laps led this year and he has a series-best 73 fastest laps in 2022. There is a good chance Blaney will lead a lot more laps Sunday since he starts on the front row. There are 146.25 dominator points available this week and I will chase them with Blaney.
KYLE LARSON (DK $10.5K FD $14K): Larson is a lock for Cash Contests. He had an engine expire last week so he will start 21st since qualifying was canceled. Larson has been awesome on the 1.5-mile tracks (He has finished 1st or 2nd in 6 of the last 10 races on 1.5-mile tracks). Larson also led 36 laps and finished 4th at Daytona, so do not be afraid of Larson if the draft comes into play. The No. 5 car will be good no matter what type of race plays out Sunday.
CHASE ELLIOTT (DK $10.3K FD $12.5K): Elliott hasn’t been very good at his home track but maybe a repave and a reconfiguration will change that. Elliott has had good speed this season and he looked fast in practice. Elliott posted the second-fastest speed on the 10-lap average speed chart and he starts 6th. Elliott has a good chance to be one of the dominators Sunday.
DENNY HAMLIN (DK $10.1K FD $12K): Hamlin looked horrible on the west coast and that may be a good thing. Hamlin starts 15th Sunday since he did not run well at Phoenix. David Wilson (Director of Toyota Racing Development) said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio this week, “We have a lot of ideas on how to make the new car faster but we have not been able to implement them because we were on the west coast and not in our shops. Now we can put what we learned into the car this week and it should help us run up front.” If Toyota did find something, Hamlin will be a great pick from outside the top-10.
JOEY LOGANO (DK $9.9K FD $13K): So who is the point’s leader in the Cup Series? It is Logano. You would not think he has been that good, but Logano has been consistent. Now he gets to start 3rd with a premium pit stall. I will not have a lot of shares of Logano, but I will sprinkle him into some lineups and hope he can lead some laps. Logano is one of the best drivers in the draft so it would not surprise anyone if he was running up front Sunday.
KYLE BUSCH (DK $9.8K FD $11.5K): Busch has been the best driver for Joe Gibbs Racing this year. If Toyota found some speed, Busch should be an excellent pick to lead some laps since the No. 18 car starts 4th. I will use Busch as one of my dominators Sunday and then listen to him bitch about how horrible his car is for 500 miles.
KEVIN HARVICK (DK $9.6K FD $11K): Harvick was an automatic play at Atlanta when the Cup Series competed on the track in the past. So how will he be on the repave? Harvick has been good this season, but he has not been a dominator. The No. 4 car finished 7th, 12th and 6th on the west coast. Now Harvick starts 8th. I am not sure he will lead a lot of laps, but he should have a good chance for a top-five finish.
WILLIAM BYRON ($9.4K FD $10.5K): “Mr. No Luck” starts 12th Sunday. Byron should have a lot of speed Sunday but the question is…can he finish the race? Byron has the second-best average green flag speed this season (Behind Ryan Blaney) but his average finishing position is 23.8. Most of his problems were not his fault. Byron should run up front Sunday. He just needs to stay out of trouble. I like Byron more for Tournament Contests Sunday.
MARTIN TRUEX JR. (DK $9.2K FD $10K): I hate the speed that Truex has had this year but I love the starting position for the No. 19 car. Truex finished 35th at Phoenix so now he will start 26th Sunday. He is a lock for Cash Contest and he is worth a spot I your Tournament Contest lineups too.
TYLER REDDICK (DK $9K FD $9.5K): Reddick has been one of the best drivers in the Cup Series this year but his price in DFS contests does not reflect it. Reddick has led the third-most laps and he finished 3rd and 7th in his last two races. Now Reddick starts 5th. Usually this would be too high in the field to start the No. 8 car, but I trust Reddick will have the speed to lead some laps and finish in the top-five Sunday.
ALEX BOWMAN (DK $8.8K FD $9.2K): Bowman won the last race on a 1.5-mile track…. Wait… no…. He backed his way into Victory Lane in the last race on a 1.5-mile track. It does not matter how Bowman gets to Victory Lane, the bottom line is that he has won the second-most races in the Cup Series over the last year. Bowman starts 11th and he should have a good chance to finish in the top-10 Sunday.
BRAD KESELOWSKI (DK $8.6K FD $7.5K): Keselowski has not been very good this season, but he did have one good race. Keselowski led the most laps and finished 9th at Daytona. This race is expected to be part Superspeedway and part Intermediate race. Keselowski should be a good play from the 24th starting position. The No. 6 car will be in many of my Cash Contest lineups Sunday.
KURT BUSCH (DK $8.4K FD $7.8K): There are a lot of reasons to like Busch but I am not as thrilled about the No. 45 car since Busch starts 9th. Busch tested at Atlanta so he has more track time than the rest of the field (except Ross Chastian and Chris Buescher). Atlanta is the best track for Busch (He has four wins at Atlanta) and he has been pretty consistent this season. Busch finished 5th, 13th and 8th in the three races on the west coast. Busch should be able to finish just inside the top-10 Sunday.
CHASE BRISCOE (DK $8.2K FD $8.3K): Briscoe starts on the pole Sunday, but do you trust him to stay there? There is no doubt the No. 14 car has had speed this season. He has led 121 laps (second-most in the Cup Series). I do not think Briscoe can win the race but he should lead a lot of laps in the first Stage. That should give him some value in DraftKings Contests (I do not like Briscoe on Fanduel since they do not award as many points for dominators).
ROSS CHASTAIN (DK $8K FD $7K): I doubt Chastain is going to get a lot of ownership since he starts 7th. I will take a chance with the No. 1 car though. Chastain has more track time than any driver in the field since he competed in the Truck Series race and he participated in the tire test at Atlanta. Chastain has had good speed in the last two races. He dominated the last race on a 1.5-mile track when he led 83 laps and finished 3rd at Las Vegas. I will take a chance with Chastain in some Tournament Contest lineups Sunday.
AUSTIN CINDRIC (DK $7.8K FD $9K): Cindric hasn’t been a good play in DFS contests this year because he consistently qualified up front. Now Cindric will start 16th. His No. 2 Ford had good speed in practice. I will take a chance with Cindric and hope he can finish in the top-10.
CHRISTOPHER BELL (DK $7.7K FD$8K): Just like his teammates (other than Kyle Busch), Bell has not been very good this year. Bell finished 26th at Phoenix, so now he will start 27th Sunday. Bell is all upside and no downside this week. I will play the No. 20 car in some Cash Contest lineups Sunday.
AUSTIN DILLON (DK $7.4K FD$6.7K): Dillon is not a happy camper because he was wrecked by Daniel Suarez at the end of the race at Phoenix. I am happy though because now Dillon will start 17th Sunday. The Richard Childress Racing cars have had good speed this season. It just takes Dillon a bit longer than his teammate (Tyler Reddick) to get to the front. I like Dillon for Cash and Tournament contests Sunday.
RICKY STENHOUSE JR. (DK $7.1K FD$6.5K): The word in the garage is that the draft will be in play this week. If that is true, Stenhouse will have some extra value Sunday. He is one of the best drivers in the field on the Superspeedways. Stenhouse starts 28th Sunday so he is a lock for Cash Contest lineups. He has enough upside to take a chance in Tournament Contests too.
ERIK JONES (DK $6.9K FD$5.5K): Jones will be a good pick if the race at Atlanta turns into a Superspeedway race. Jones has been to Victory Lane at the Superspeedway tracks before and he looked good at Daytona in February. Jones starts 23rd so the risk with using the No. 43 car is reduced this week. I like Jones for Cash and Tournament Contests Sunday.
HARRISON BURTON (DK $6.4K FD $4K): Burton has been horrible this year. He finished 3 of the 4 races outside the top-25. Burton starts 31st and his price is cheap. You almost have to take a chance with Burton in some Tournament Contest lineups. He should move up 10 spots if he can simply stay out of trouble Sunday.
TY DILLON (DK $6K FD $3.5K): Dillon does not get any respect by the DFS sites yet. I really like him on FD this week. Dillon starts 18th and that is probably a bit higher than I would like, but he has proved he can maintain his position. Dillon started 26th and finished 11th at Daytona and he started 21st and finished 15th last week. There is some risk in using Dillon so I like him more for Tournament Contests Sunday.
TODD GILLILAND (DK $5.6K FD $3.5K): Gilliland has been one of the best “punt plays” this year. He averaged 31 DK Points in the three races on the west coast. That is really good when his price averaged $5,600. Gilliland starts 25th and he should have a good chance to finish in the top-20 if he stays out of trouble like he did on the west coast.
DFS EXAMPLE LINEUPS
NASCAR said they are going to crack down on teams messing with the chassis that they provide. I expect there will be a lot of cars who fail inspection early in the season. When the top cars fail inspection, it changes the DFS lineups completely. For this reason, I will post the final picks after the inspection is complete (60 minutes before the race).
Each year I get told the same thing… I used your lineup and I did not win the big jackpot. That is because 25-50 other people copied and pasted my lineup too and you had to split the pot 25-50 ways. The lineups posted this year will be examples on how to create a lineup for the race. You can copy and paste, but just know a lot of other people will have the same lineup. (It is OK to copy and paste the Cash Contest lineup). There is plenty of information in this article to help you create your own unique lineup to give you a better chance of winning.
DRAFTKINGS CASH CONTEST LINEUP
* This Lineup is also good to use in Tournament Contests just in case this race plays out like a Superspeedway race.
DRAFTKINGS TOURNAMENT CONTEST LINEUP
* This lineup is good for Tournament Contests in case this is just a normal race with a few dominators and a lot of place differential drivers.
DRAFTKINGS TOURNAMENT CONTEST LINEUP
* This lineup is good for Tournament Contests in case Atlanta turns into a one-groove track and it is difficult to pass. We will want drivers who start up front and lead a lot of laps.
FANDUEL CASH CONTEST LINEUP
FANDUEL TOURNAMENT CONTEST LINEUP
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