The NASCAR Cup Series will return to Atlanta Motor Speedway this week. This will be the first time the Gen-7 car competed at a track for the first time. The last race at Atlanta had a lot of tire problems, but that has been nothing new this year for the Cup Series. Hopefully the teams learned their lesson and will inflate the tires to their proper requirements Sunday (I doubt that will happen though). The Quaker State 400 can be seen Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on USA Network.
DFS STRATEGY FOR ATLANTA
Atlanta Motor Speedway was repaved and reconfigured last year. The track is smooth, has more banking and is lightning fast. The track is now considered a Superspeedway so the Cup Series will use the same aero package which was used at Daytona and Talladega. This is the 510 HP engines with the 7” spoiler.
The Cup Series does not practice at the Superspeedways so this means the teams did not get any track time since qualifying was rained out. The only data we have to use for the race is from the race at Atlanta in March and the two other races on the Superspeedways.
The easiest way to handicap this race will be to look at what happened in the race at Atlanta in March. This race should be much different though. The race is 100 miles shorter and the track will be hotter and slicker. The teams now have 18 races of notes to use for the Gen-7 car so some teams who struggled at Atlanta in March may show up with some speed Sunday.
The race is scheduled for 260 laps (400 miles). That means there are 65 points available for leading laps and 117 points available for fastest laps (182 dominator points). Usually we do not worry about dominator points at a Superspeedway but William Byron led 111 laps and scored 31.35 dominator points in the first race. I doubt it will be the same Sunday.
Desperate times calls for desperate measures. There are 20 drivers I really like this week, but it is hard to own that many drivers in your DFS lineups. Here are the drivers I like…
Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano are the best drivers at using the draft to their advantage. These four drivers are the safest plays this week but they will be popular.
William Byron, Ross Chastain, Kurt Busch and Daniel Suarez all had good races at Atlanta in March. I like all of these drivers too, but they will also be highly owned based on what they did in the previous race at Atlanta.
My favorite plays are the desperate drivers. Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Chris Buescher, Austin Dillon, Erik Jones, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Michael McDowell are looking for their first win this season to secure a spot in the playoffs. All of these drivers have had success at Superspeedways. Their teams will try to use pit strategy to get these drivers to the front at the end of the race. I will have a lot of ownership of these eight drivers.
I will also sprinkle in some shares of Kyle Busch, Bubba Wallace Jr. and Corey LaJoie.
DraftKings Model (Prediction Based on Stats)
Finish = Finishing Points PD = Position Differential Fastest = Fastest Laps Led = Laps Led
FanDuel Model (Prediction Based on Stats)
CORE DRIVERS FOR ATLANTA
Top-Tier Drivers: Ryan Blaney ($10,700), Chase Elliott ($10,500), Ross Chastain ($10,300), Kyle Busch ($9,900), Denny Hamlin ($9,700), Joey Logano ($9,600), William Byron ($9,500), Martin Truex Jr. ($9,100)
Value Drivers: Daniel Suarez ($8,900), Bubba Wallace ($8,700), Kurt Busch ($8,200), Kevin Harvick ($7,600), Erik Almirola ($7,400), Michael McDowell ($7,300), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,100), Austin Dillon ($6,900), Erik Jones($6,700), Brad Keselowski ($6,500)
Punt Plays: Todd Gilliland ($5,700), Harrison Burton ($5,500), Corey LaJoie ($5,400)
DRAFTKINGS CASH CONTEST LINEUP
KYLE BUSCH ($9,900): A lot of people will look at the results from the first race at Atlanta and see that Busch finished 33rd. That finish does not tell the story of how fast the No. 18 car was in the race. Busch spent most of the race running in the top-five until he was caught up in the “big one” on lap 153. Busch finished sixth at Daytona and third at Talladega. He has been one of the best drivers using the Superspeedway package so he should score a lot of points from the 19th starting position.
WILLIAM BYRON ($9,500): I like Byron more for Cash Contests than I do for Tournament Contests this week. He led 111 laps and won the last race at Atlanta in March. Now he starts 13th in the race. Byron is going to be a popular pick but that does not matter as much in Cash Contests. He should be able to finish in the top-10, with top-five upside as long as the team can find the same speed he had in the last race at this track.
MARTIN TRUEX JR. ($9,100): It is hard to believe that Truex has not been to Victory Lane yet in 2022, but that could change Sunday. Truex finished 13th at Daytona, fifth at Talladega and eighth at Atlanta using the Superspeedway aero package. He has also finished nine races in a row in the top-10 at Atlanta. Truex should be a safe pick to extend his top-10 streak at Atlanta to 10 races in a row.
KURT BUSCH ($8,200): (Kurt) Busch loves racing at Atlanta and I love using him in my DFS lineups at this track. He has a series-high four wins in the ATL and he has finished seven of his last eight races at the track in the top-10. I know the track is completely different from the track Busch had success at, but he did start ninth and finished third at Atlanta in March (Busch scored 49.8 DK Points in that race). Busch should be a good pick from the 21st starting position Sunday.
BRAD KESELOWSKI ($6,500): Keselowski may be the highest owned driver Sunday. We all know he is good in these types of races. He led a race-high 67 laps and finished ninth at Daytona. He also started 24th and finished 12th at Atlanta in March (He scored 43.5 DK Points in that race). Keselowski knows this is one of his best chances to win. He should score a lot of place differential points from the 31st starting position.
ERIK JONES ($6,700): Jones has been a good play in DFS contests when he starts outside the top-20. Jones started 23rd and finished 14th in the last race at Atlanta. Jones scored 43 DK Points in that race. He starts 25th Sunday and Jones will have a good chance to score over 40 DK Points again if he can repeat what he did at Atlanta in March.
DRAFTKINGS TOURNAMENT CONTEST LINEUP
ROSS CHASTAIN ($10,300): How can you fade Chastain right now? He finished 12 of the 18 races in the top-10, he finished second in the race at Atlanta in March and he won using the Superspeedway aero package at Talladega. It is tough to find a “safe pick” in races where the draft comes into play, but Chastain is about as safe as it gets right now. He will be my pivot from the popular Chase Elliott who is on the pole.
DENNY HAMLIN ($9,700): Hamlin could be overlooked this week since he finished 29th in the first race at Atlanta and his average finishing position in his last four races is 22nd. Fading Hamlin at a Superspeedway is a mistake. He had the fastest car in practice at Atlanta in March. He spent most of his race running in the top-five until he was wrecked on lap 212. I will go back to Hamlin this week and hope he can win at Atlanta for the second time. The No. 11 car should score well from the 16th starting position.
DANIEL SUAREZ ($8,900): I had Suarez at the top of my list this week and I am sure a lot of other people did too. I am also sure some of those people crossed Suarez off their list when they saw he starts seventh Sunday. I am not afraid of his starting position. Suarez started 13th and finished fourth at Atlanta in March. Trackhouse Racing has proved they can have both cars in the top-10 at any track.
KEVIN HARVICK ($7,600): How the mighty have fallen… It was only a year and half ago when Harvick was consistently the highest priced driver in DFS. Now we get him at $7,600. Harvick is desperate for a win. He won his first ever race at Atlanta and I would not be shocked if he ended his 61 race drought Sunday at this track. Crew chief Rodney Childers will take all kinds of risks this week to get Harvick to the front. It just may work out. I doubt Harvick will be highly owned from the 10th starting position.
AUSTIN DILLON ($6,900): Dillon said on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio, “I had no problem giving up my race last week when we had a tire go down to help my teammate (Tyler Reddick) get to Victory Lane. We had to make a sure a RCR car won that race. Now I am expecting Tyler to help me this week get to Victory Lane at Atlanta. Superspeedway racing has always been my strength so we are expecting a lot this week.” He is right… Dillon is good on the Superspeedways. His best race in 2022 was at Talladega when he finished second. I will take a chance with Dillon and hope he can finish in the top-five again from the 26th starting position.
BRAD KESELOWSKI ($6,500): I know Keselowski is going to be the chalk Sunday but he is also the “free square.” His floor and ceiling are so high that you almost have to play him. This lineup has enough drivers who should be contrarian to make it OK to play Keselowski this week.
FANDUEL CASH CONTEST LINEUP
FANDUEL TOURNAMENT CONTEST LINEUP
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