The MENCS will compete at Atlanta Motor Speedway this week in the Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500. This is a long race and tire management will be the key to finishing up front. The MENCS will also debut the new aerodynamics package. The cars will be slower but the racing will be closer. The racing at Atlanta is always good so I expect one of the better races of the 2019 season this week. The race can be seen Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on Fox.
One of the changes this season for the Driver Group Game is that your league commissioner has the ability to change to number of allocations for each driver and can place drivers into any group they choose. My picks will be based on the default settings (8 allocations per driver and the original group settings).
This is not the race to save allocations. The cream usually rises to the top at the 1.5-mile tracks. NASCAR made rules changes with the horsepower and down-force to make the racing more competitive but I doubt we will see much change this week. The top teams should dominate the top 10 Sunday. The 2019 rules package will affect the racing a lot more next week at Las Vegas.
Here are my picks for Atlanta…
Driver Group Game A Picks
Kevin Harvick (8): We only get 8 allocations with Harvick and I am using one of them this week. He has dominated every race at Atlanta since 2013 and I see no reason why the race Sunday should be any different. Since joining Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014, Harvick has led an average of 183-laps per race and has a 7.4 average finishing position at Atlanta. The No. 4 team had problems with their power-steering but they got it fixed. Harvick posted the 3rd-fastest 10-lap speed and was 2nd-fastest on the 20-lap runs. He should be inside the top 10 within 10 laps. I will stick with the plan and use Harvick Sunday.
Group A Driver Rankings: 1) Kyle Larson 2) Martin Truex Jr. 3) Kevin Harvick 4) Joey Logano 5) Kyle Busch, 6) Chase Elliott 7) Brad Keselowski
Driver Group Game B Picks
Clint Bowyer (8): Bowyer qualified 9th and finished 3rd in this race last year. He always tries his best to mimic Kevin Harvick by running the bottom of the track. He comes pretty close. Bowyer was fastest in all practice sessions. He has a handful of tracks he runs very well at and this is one of them. Bowyer starts 3rd and should score some Stage points. This is a good time to use an allocation with the No. 14 car.
Aric Almirola (8): Almirola finished all of the races on the 1.5-mile tracks in the playoffs last year in the top 10 and he picked up right where he left off. Almirola was 2nd fastest in Friday’s practice and 10th fastest on the long runs in final practice. He won the pole and should be a lock to lead laps and score Stage points. This is one of the best races to use an allocation with Almirola.
Group B Driver Rankings: 1) Clint Bowyer 2) Aric Almirola 3) Kurt Busch 4) Denny Hamlin 5) Austin Dillon 6) Jimmie Johnson 7) Ryan Blaney 8) Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 9) Daniel Suarez 10) Alex Bowman
Driver Group Game C Picks
Daniel Hemric (8): Hemric has never competed in a MENCS race at Atlanta but he looked good enough in practice that I am willing to take a chance with him. Hemric was 8th fastest in practice with the 5th fastest long run speed. He looked like the best driver in Group C. My other choice is Matt DiBenedetto and I want to save him until his team has more time to build fast racecars. Hemric is very good at managing his tires so he should run inside the top 20 Sunday.
Group C Driver Rankings: 1) Daniel Hemric 2) Matt DiBenedetto 3) Ty Dillon 4) Michael McDowell 5) Chris Buescher
Driver Group Game Team
Group A: Kevin Harvick (8)
Group B: Clint Bowyer (8), Aric Almirola (8)
Group C: Daniel Hemric (8)
*Stats from Driveraverages.com and career stats from Racing-Reference.Info…
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Good luck this week!
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