The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series travels 400 miles north to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500. This will be the first race for the series using the new aerodynamics package. We can expect slower speeds and closer racing. Tires will be the story at Atlanta. The drivers who can manage their Goodyear’s the best will be up front Sunday.
The MENCS will be back to a normal schedule this week. The first practice is scheduled for Friday at 11:30 a.m. ET. (I do not see any TV coverage for practice so I imagine it is on the Fox Sports App) Qualifying is Friday evening at 5 p.m. ET (FS1). The final practice is Saturday at 12 p.m. ET (FS1). I will post my Garage Talk Notes after final practice. The race is Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on Fox.
Kyle Busch won the pole for the 2018 Folds of Honor Quick Trip 500. He lead did not last long. Kevin Harvick managed his tires perfectly by running against the apron. He took the lead on lap 20 and won Stage 1. The No. 2 team used pit strategy to get Brad Keselowski the lead and he dominated Stage 2. Harvick took the lead in the final Stage and took the checkered-flag to win his first race at Atlanta since his rookie season (2001). Harvick led 181 laps in this race. He has led the most laps (1,016) in six of the last 7 races at AMS and only has one win to show for it.
Race Rewind at Atlanta: Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500 (2018)
NASCAR Stats for the Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500
DraftKings NASCAR Preview
The Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500 is not your normal race on a 1.5-mile track. The race has 325 laps instead of the typical 267 on a normal intermediate track race. The extra 58 points means more dominator points. The race has 81.25 points for leading laps and 162.5 points for fastest laps. The trend at Atlanta is the last three years is to have one driver lead 180 laps (Kevin Harvick), two drivers lead 45 laps and one driver leads 30 laps. These drivers also score between 15-30 fastest laps points. The dominators will be very important this week so we need at least 2 of them in our lineups.
Top 15 DraftKings Drivers in Last 3 Races at Atlanta
|Driver||Avg. Finish Pos.||Laps Led||
|1. Kevin Harvick||
|2. Brad Keselowski||
|3. Martin Truex Jr.||
|4. Chase Elliott||
5. Joey Logano
|6. Kurt Busch||
|7. Kyle Busch||
|8. Jimmie Johnson||
|9. Clint Bowyer||
10. Erik Jones
|11. Kyle Larson||
|12. William Byron||
|13. Ryan Blaney||
14. Aric Almirola
|15. Ty Dillon||
I will post my final DraftKings picks Sunday morning.
Fantasy Live Preview
My Fantasy Live picks for Daytona did not perform great but better than average. The lineup I ended the race with (Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Aric Almirola, Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer) scored 127 points and are ranked 81.2% overall. Not too bad. The good news is that my picks usually perform poorly at Daytona and finish in the top 100 overall after Homestead. The racing this week will be more predictable.
*Pick for the Pole*: Our pick for the pole needs to be in before qualifying at 5 p.m. ET Friday. My pick for the pole will be posted after the first practice Friday (1 p.m. ET) on the front page of this website.
Here are the drivers I have penciled in right now…
5 Starting Drivers
Kevin Harvick (10): Harvick has only won one race at Atlanta since 2001. He must be a bad pick, right? Not so fast my friend… Harvick has an average starting position of 2.5, has led an average of 183-laps per race and has a 7.4 average finishing position at Atlanta. He is the best in the business at managing his tires and running the yellow line at the bottom of the track. This is a great week to use an allocation with Harvick.
Brad Keselowski (10): Keselowski should be the driver chasing Kevin Harvick around the track Sunday. These two drivers have dominated the field in the last two races at Atlanta. Keselowski won the race in 2017 and finished 2nd in 2018. He also qualified in the top five for both races and scored Stage points in all of the Stages. This is one of the best tracks to use Keselowski at so make sure he is in your lineup.
Joey Logano(10): It takes a smooth driver who can mange tire wear in order to run up front at Atlanta. That is just the type of driver Logano is. Logano finished 6th in his last two races at Atlanta. Logano probably will not win the race but he will run in the top 10, score a lot of Stage points and finish near the top 5. He was the most consistent driver on the 1.5-mile tracks last year. We can expect the same from Logano Sunday.
Chase Elliott (10): This could be the week they sound the siren in Dawsonville, Georia. Elliott has three starts in the MENCS at his home track and he has never finished outside the top 10. Elliott should score a lot of Stage points and finish in the top 5 this week.
Kyle Larson (10): Racing at Atlanta is like racing on dirt. Drivers have to move around the track to find grip. That is perfect for Larson. He has been very good at the track over the last two seasons. Larson finished 2nd in 2017 and 7th last year. His average running position was 4th-best last year. I expect Larson to spend a lot of time up front Sunday.
My Garage Driver will come down to Clint Bowyer (9) or Kurt Busch (10). The stats suggest I go with Busch but I want to see how the switch to Chip Ganassi Racing affects him on the track. Bowyer finished 3rd in this race last year and he said Kevin Harvick taught him how to race the bottom of the track. Both are good picks. I am leaning towards Bowyer now, but final practice will tell me who to use in my lineup.
My Bonus Picks will be updated after I see the cars on the track this weekend. Here are my thoughts right now…
Pick for the Pole: Kevin Harvick
Stage 1 Winner: Kevin Harvick
Stage 2 Winner: Kevin Harvick
Race Winner: Kevin Harvick
Winning Manufacturer: Ford
** Photos from NASCAR Media
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