The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 on Sunday afternoon. As of Wednesday afternoon, the weather forecast looks like teams will have deal with mid-60s and sun, which means us fans should get some great racing action, just like usual at Atlanta. This track is a 1.5-mile intermediate but it’s a “high-wear” track similar to what we dealt with at Homestead-Miami a few weeks ago. Other “high-wear” tracks that were raced at in 2020 include Darlington and Auto Club. The two that compare the best are Atlanta and Homestead.

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“High-Wear” Intermediate Tracks

William Byron #24 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports doing a burnout after winning at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2021
Photo Credit: Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The good news: we just raced at a “high-wear” intermediate track a few weeks ago.

The bad news: we just raced at a “high-wear” intermediate track a few weeks ago.

The reason that it is a good and bad thing that we recently had a Homestead-Miami race is because it gives us recent data to go off of and analyze who should be fast here at Atlanta on Sunday, but you need to take that data with a grain of salt and not put all of your eggs into that basket–which is very easy to do. I’ve personally made that mistake quite a few times over my Fantasy NASCAR career. But don’t forget that the Homestead race was a mid-afternoon transition to a night race, which caused these teams to have to keep up with the track. We probably won’t be ending underneath the lights here at Atlanta on Sunday unless there’s a rain delay.

Another difference between Homestead and Atlanta is race length: we get an extra 100 miles of racing here on Sunday. That’s an extra 100 miles for your a driver in your fantasy lineup to hit the wall and obliterate your day (hello Cole Custer), and just a long day overall. What’s going to be important here at Atlanta on Sunday is long-run speed and taking care of your tires.

We also had a “low-wear” intermediate track race this season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The data from that event is definitely something to consider, but I wouldn’t put a significant amount of weight into it since it isn’t a track that eats up tires. We also had some teams (ahem, Stewart-Haas Racing) that completely missed the setup for that race. Could it happen again here on Sunday in Atlanta? Possibly. Is it guaranteed? No. Anyway, though, below are some links for Loop Data over the first two intermediate tracks of the 2021 season.

2021 RaceLoop Data
Box Score
Green Flag
Speed
Homestead-Miami SpeedwayClick hereClick here
Las Vegas Motor SpeedwayClick hereClick here

Pre-Race Loop Data Box Score for Atlanta

Click image to enlarge and download pdf

The Favorites

Martin Truex, Jr. and Brad Keselowski racing side-by-side at Kansas
Photo Credit: Jamie Squire | Getty Images

Kevin Harvick – Nobody should be surprised that Kevin Harvick is listed as the early favorite to win at Atlanta on Sunday, even with Stewart-Haas Racing’s slow start to the season. Harvick is downright dominant on this track. Over the last nine Atlanta races, Harvick has led at least 100 laps in seven of those events, crossing 150 laps led in four of the last seven. His “bad” race here lately was the 2019 event when he only led 45 laps, but finished 2nd in Stage 1, 1st in Stage 2, and 4th at the end (he started 18th that race, by the way). There’s a small bit of concern from me that Harvick won’t be as dominant here on Sunday, but as we saw at Phoenix last week, this #4 Ford is going to be fine at tracks that they have historically been good at.

Kyle Larson – Ironically, the last time that Kyle Larson raced at Atlanta (in 2019), it was a speeding penalty that killed his chances of getting to victory lane–just like two speeding penalties ruined his day at Phoenix last week. There’s no doubt that the #5 Chevrolet was one of the fastest cars in the desert last weekend, though, and that should be the case here at Atlanta on Sunday as well. Larson led 142 laps and finished 1st and 2nd in the first two Stages here at Atlanta in the 2019 race, and we all know how strong he was at Homestead (4th) and Las Vegas (he won) over the last month this year.

Martin Truex, Jr. – Last week’s race winner, Martin Truex, Jr., could easily go back-to-back this weekend at Atlanta. He’s starting on the outside pole but should be a contender all day in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. Over the last two years, Truex actually has the best average running position at this track (3.1) and is tied for the best average finish (2.5). Truex also has the most fastest laps (91) over those two races. Remember what I said back at Homestead: Joe Gibbs Racing is much better at intermediates during the day than at night. Truex has a three-race streak of top 5s here at Atlanta. He should extend that to four in a row (at least) on Sunday, and may even win.

Underdogs

Ryan Blaney and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. racing at Talladega 2020
Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk | Getty Images

Ryan Blaney – Is this a deep sleeper? No, but at 16-to-1 odds to win on Sunday at Atlanta, I consider Ryan Blaney to be an underdog. He finished 4th in this race one year ago, which is Blaney’s only result inside the top 11 in five career starts here at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Don’t let that deter you, though: Young Ryan Blaney had top 5 Green Flag Speed here in 2019 and even led 41 laps but had an awful pit stop pretty much ruined his day. We saw the “normal” Blaney at Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago, when he started 26th and finished 5th. This weekend, he will start from 10th.

William Byron – Again, you should’t put a ton of stock into the Homestead race this year, but you still need to consider. And, boy, did William Byron have a good car in that race. And in addition to that, Byron had a top 5 car in terms of Green Flag Speed wat Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago, and also notched a solid top 10 finish there. Here at Atlanta, Byron’s record is awful–finishes of 18th, 17th, and 33rd–but he has never been trustworthy on 1.5-mile tracks during his Cup career. This #24 Chevrolet will have speed on Sunday, and Byron has the talent to get a good finish.

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. – On Sunday, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. isn’t going to win this race, but he’s actually a pretty decent value bet at 100-to-1 odds, and I like the +285 for a top 10 as well. In Fantasy NASCAR, Stenhouse has been a pleasant surprise this season, finishing 18th at Daytona, 18th at the Daytona Road Course, 13th at Homestead, 11th at Las Vegas, and 12th last week at Phoenix. That’s solid. Here at Atlanta, Ricky has finished between 10th and 18th in each of the last five races. This #47 team is running really well here lately and we could easily see that continue this weekend.

Atlanta Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Betting Odds

As of Wednesday afternoon, DraftKings Sportsbook had the following odds listed to win Sunday’s race at Atlanta Motor Raceway.

  • Kevin Harvick +550
  • Kyle Larson +650
  • Martin Truex Jr +650
  • Brad Keselowski +750
  • Chase Elliott +800
  • Denny Hamlin +800
  • Joey Logano +900
  • Kyle Busch +1000
  • Ryan Blaney +1600
  • William Byron +2000
  • Christopher Bell +2200
  • Kurt Busch +2200
  • Alex Bowman +3300
  • Aric Almirola +6000
  • Austin Dillon +6000
  • Matt DiBenedetto +8000
  • Tyler Reddick +8000
  • Bubba Wallace +8000
  • Austin Cindric +8000
  • Cole Custer +10000
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr +10000
  • Erik Jones +12500
  • Ryan Newman +12500
  • Ross Chastain +15000
  • Chase Briscoe +20000
  • Chris Buescher +20000
  • Michael McDowell +20000
  • Daniel Suarez +25000
  • Ryan Preece +40000
  • Anthony Alfredo +50000
  • Justin Haley +50000
  • Corey LaJoie +100000
  • Joey Gase +150000
  • Timmy Hill +150000
  • Quin Houff +150000
  • B J McLeod +150000
  • Cody Ware +150000
  • Josh Bilicki +150000
  • James Davison +150000
As someone who has always been obsessed with numbers, Fantasy NASCAR has been the perfect fit with me. I pride myself on the quality of my analysis for each race, and am glad that I have been able to help others along the way. I've been a serious Fantasy NASCAR player for over 10 years now, and I'm just getting started.