The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will compete at Atlanta Motor Speedway this week. The race at Daytona was unpredictable and the best strategy for DraftKings was to select drivers who started in the back and hope they could move to the front and score position differential points. The race Sunday will be more predictable so our chances of winning money will be increased.
The Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 is not your normal 1.5-mile track race. There are 325 laps instead of 267 in a normal Intermediate track race. The extra 58 laps are important because it means there will be more laps led and more fastest lap bonus points for your DraftKings contest.
The race at Atlanta was moved to the 2nd race of the season three years ago. There is a big difference in the way the cars perform on the track in the 2nd race of the season compared to the way they perform in late summer. When I evaluated the stats for this race I only considered the last three races at Atlanta.
Stats for Atlanta
There are five key stats that should be evaluated to see which drivers will be good picks for the race Sunday.
Driver Rating is a combination of a driver’s average running position, average finishing position and average speed at a track. I like to use this stat to see who really runs well at Atlanta.
Finishing Position is simply the average finishing position of each driver in the last three races at Atlanta.
Quality Pass % is the amount of passes a driver made in the last 15 laps of the race. This is important because you want drivers who move forward at the end of the race and not drivers who lose positions on the track.
Fastest Laps are when a driver posts the fastest speed on a lap during the race (DraftKings awards points for fastest laps).
DraftKings Points are the most important stat. The goal in DraftKings is to outscore your competition so having the drivers who typically score the most points at a track are critical to your team’s success.
I ranked all of the drivers according to the key stats above and then sorted them by their average ranking for all of the categories.
Here are the top drivers for Atlanta…
|Rating||Finish||Quality %||Fastest Lap||DK Points||Avg. Ranking|
2. Jimmie Johnson
|3. Martin Truex Jr.||3||6||1||5||6||4.2|
4. Chase Elliott
|5. Brad Keselowski||5||3||11||4||5||5.6|
6. Joey Logano
|7. Kurt Busch||7||1||3||15||7||6.6|
8. Kyle Busch
|9. Kasey Kahne||12||10||9||11||11||10.6|
10. Ryan Newman
|11. Erik Jones||9||11||21||24||9||14.8|
12. Clint Bowyer
|13. Kyle Larson||11||15||16||13||22||15.4|
14. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
|15. Denny Hamlin||14||29||8||7||26||16.8|
Since there are 325 laps in the race Sunday, there will be 81.25 points available for leading laps and 162.5 points available for fastest laps. I would not be concerned with trying to select the drivers who score the fastest laps in the race. Tires are so important at Atlanta so the fastest laps often get spread out between the 40 cars. Drivers who get off sequence with the field and come in for 4 fresh tires will score a lot of fastest laps until the rest of the cars come into the pits.
We DO need to chase the laps led and it should not be that hard this week. Kevin Harvick has led the most laps in the last four races at Atlanta and it has not even been close. He led 292 laps last year, 131 laps in 2016, 116 laps in 2015 and 195 laps in 2014. He has averaged 183.5 laps led at Atlanta since he joined Stewart-Haas Racing.
Our strategy this week will depend on how Harvick performs in practice. We will select one dominator (Harvick) for this race if the No. 4 car shows up this week dominating the leaderboard in the practice sessions. The rest of our team will consist of value picks and drivers who can score position differential points.
If Harvick does not look like he will dominate this week, our strategy will change. We will then pick 2 drivers who are likely to dominate and 4 drivers who can score position differential points this week.
Top DraftKings Drivers
There are some drivers who simply know how to get around this track a lot better than their competition. These are the drivers we want to focus on this week. Here are the top drivers in the DraftKings Contest over the last three seasons…
2017 DraftKings Points at Atlanta
- Kevin Harvick 129.5
- Brad Keselowski 72.25
- Kasey Kahne 67
- Chase Elliott 54.5
- Kyle Larson 54.25
- Clint Bowyer 49
- Joey Logano 48
- Kurt Busch 43
- Ty Dillon 42.5
- Erik Jones 40.5
2016 DraftKings Points at Atlanta
- Kevin Harvick 91.25
- Jimmie Johnson 86
- Kyle Busch 85
- Martin Truex Jr. 64.5
- Chase Elliott 60
- Kurt Busch 56
- Joey Logano 55
- Brad Keselowski 47
- Aric Almirola 43
- Paul Menard 34
2015 DraftKings Points at Atlanta
- Jimmie Johnson 135
- Kevin Harvick 100.5
- Joey Logano 73.5
- Regan Smith 48 (Drove Kurt Busch’s Car)
- Martin Truex Jr. 47.5
- Aric Almirola 45.5
- Brad Keselowski 43
- AJ Allmendinger 41
- Alex Bowman 40
- Ryan Newman 33.5
Only four drivers show up in the top 10 in DraftKings scoring every year since the race was moved to the beginning of the season. Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and the No. 41 car (Kurt Busch /Regan Smith) all scored very well at Atlanta. Each of these cars are Fords. I will be watching to see how well the Fords run in practice this weekend. If this trend continues I may use a Ford stack in my DraftKings lineup.
Practice will be very important this week. Be sure to check out my Garage Talk Notes posted Saturday evening. I plan to have my final DraftKings picks posted Sunday morning.
There are five drivers I will be focusing on in practice this week: Joey Logano ($9,000), Jimmie Johnson ($8,800), , Kurt Busch ($8,200), Ryan Newman ($6,900), Kasey Kahne ($6,200) and David Ragan $5,600). Each of these drivers has great stats at Atlanta and I think they are underpriced in DraftKings this week. Darrell Wallace Jr. ($6,300) should also perform a lot better than his price, but I expect Bubba to be a popular pick for Atlanta.
Good luck this week!!!
If you need any further advice with your team or want to see my updated picks after Happy Hour practice, look for me on Twitter (@MrFantasyNASCAR).