Atlanta Motor Speedway. Some of the best racing on the schedule thanks to its worn-out surface, putting more control in the driver’s hands and relying on his ability to maintain his tires through the run. The most similar track to Atlanta is Homestead, and we just raced there a few weeks ago. It’s a good idea to look at those numbers (they’re linked below), but please note that Homestead was a late-afternoon-transition-into-night race, and Atlanta is only going to end under the lights if there’s a rain delay.

My Atlanta Fantasy/Betting Preview was posted earlier this week, and you can read some of my early thoughts heading into this race by clicking here. Also make sure to read my FanDuel post for the Folds of Honor QuiKTrip 500 by clicking here. There’s quite a bit of crossover in sleepers that I like on both DFS sites. Brad Keselowski and Kyle Larson are on the front row for Sunday’s race and you can check out the full starting lineup by clicking here. Now let’s gooo!!!

Enjoy the FREE content that this site offers each week? Buy me a Miller Lite for this weekend’s race by clicking here and donating. Also, I’d highly recommend to check out the Algorithm Predicted Finishing Order for this race by clicking here!

“High-Wear” Intermediate Track Speed Report & Loop Data Driver Averages

Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott, and Aric Almirola racing at Bristol 2020
Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

We already have two intermediate track races under our belt this season, with Homestead (“high-wear”) and Las Vegas (“low-wear”) both taking place over the last few weeks. As I mentioned in my Preview article for this race, it’s definitely worth weighing performances from both of those races, but just do so with a grain of salt. Homestead is the most similar track to Atlanta, but that race started in the late afternoon and ended at night, so there were more factors in play than what we’ll see at Atlanta on Sunday. And Las Vegas is a “low-wear” track, so while it is also 1.5 miles in length, it doesn’t have the tire fall-off and kind of takes some pressure off their drivers and his skills.

Still, here are the Loop Data Box Score and Green Flag Speed links for those races.

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

In addition to that data, below you will find the chart for “high-wear” tracks in 2020 as well as a chart for Atlanta specifically over the last two years. Keep in mind that we only race at Atlanta once per year, so one or two bad races during that time frame can make a driver seem worse here than he actually is (and vice versa). The following statistics are included in these charts. You can click on column headers to sort by that column.

  • Starts
  • Finish
  • ARP = average running position
  • DR = driver rating
  • FL = fastest laps (total)
  • LL = laps led (total)
  • T15 = laps ran inside top 15 (total)
  • Total Laps = laps completed (total)

2020 Driver Averages on “High-Wear” Tracks

Driver
Starts
Finish
ARP
DR
FL
LL
T15
Total Laps
Denny Hamlin605.26.10111.19416815651660
Kevin Harvick606.87.22112.814835214791659
Kyle Busch607.59.8997.964913341659
Brad Keselowski608.711.0195.7719913061660
Kurt Busch608.711.8690.957612331659
Alex Bowman609.57.36108.914415215261658
Aric Almirola609.712.0891.119011651659
Martin Truex Jr611.27.21107.017628014801659
Tyler Reddick612.314.0683.56939311658
Austin Dillon612.516.2376.21406691658
Chase Elliott612.76.61107.110419515981652
Erik Jones612.712.3391.0662712881656
Joey Logano612.712.8386.4435611501658
Ryan Blaney614.512.8593.9981269911658
Matt DiBenedetto616.015.8477.2908651658
Ryan Newman517.619.0269.81553781455
William Byron618.218.2378.91248871634
Ricky Stenhouse Jr519.420.1562.61164021363
Michael McDowell619.522.9060.250721658
Cole Custer620.720.7063.0502251655
Kyle Larson121.023.3066.41032199
Christopher Bell622.220.5662.61503381521
Bubba Wallace622.721.9560.3332051507
Ross Chastain223.027.5651.71043560
Chris Buescher623.721.7859.81801941649
Ty Dillon624.724.4051.928821650
Ryan Preece626.022.9358.3702141515
Daniel Suarez627.828.8242.921151640
Corey LaJoie629.528.0545.220191514
Quin Houff632.233.6433.00021466
Joey Gase633.234.9631.44001603
Josh Bilicki434.334.5832.22001200
Timmy Hill635.236.1829.211021486
BJ McLeod437.536.7625.6103474
James Davison139.037.6025.3000162

2019-2020 Driver Averages At Atlanta

DriverStartsAvg FinishARPDRFLLLT15TLaps
Martin Truex Jr202.503.1128.89169650650
Kevin Harvick202.503.7129.677196644650
Kyle Busch204.007.3106.2497601650
Kurt Busch204.510.0102.7182587650
Brad Keselowski205.009.4104.14738569650
Denny Hamlin208.007.599.0130627650
Kyle Larson112.006.1117.254142266325
Clint Bowyer212.507.2102.33458616649
Aric Almirola212.513.983.62636307649
Ryan Blaney213.008.499.83843597649
Chase Elliott213.510.388.21126534649
Alex Bowman213.514.679.260341649
Ryan Newman213.516.773.710285649
Ricky Stenhouse Jr215.515.583.9101405648
Jimmie Johnson215.516.674.830318648
Chris Buescher215.519.666.820154649
Austin Dillon216.020.764.32073648
Tyler Reddick116.015.275.110133324
Joey Logano216.510.989.84732496649
Erik Jones217.514.981.0170402647
Christopher Bell118.017.971.61084324
Cole Custer119.021.962.4100324
Daniel Suarez220.521.561.710295641
John H. Nemechek123.025.452.5007324
Bubba Wallace224.024.552.91041646
William Byron225.026.952.82043638
Matt DiBenedetto225.519.162.740210646
Ty Dillon227.025.848.6106645
Corey LaJoie228.028.443.7806642
Ryan Preece230.522.655.16059594
Michael McDowell230.526.747.65016546
Ross Chastain131.033.432.8200313
Quin Houff132.032.735.2000314
Joey Gase138.037.126.3000308
Timmy Hill139.037.927.5200259

What About Kevin Harvick?

Kevin Harvick Dark Helmet
Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Whenever we come to Atlanta Motor Speedway, Kevin Harvick is usually the “okay, we have our first driver locked in, now who else?” He’s been that good here. We’re talking an average of 51.9 fastest laps per race over the last eight races here. A total of 1,111 laps led, which comes out to a ridiculous average of 138.9 per race, over that same span. That’s 58.08 DraftKings dominator FPTS per race without even taking into consideration finishing points and place differential points!

But the biggest question heading into Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 is whether that Kevin Harvick is going to show up. Because that Kevin Harvick hasn’t even peeked his head around the corner yet this year. That Kevin Harvick is still in the shower while everyone else is on their third beer at the bar.

In my opinion, I think this will finally be the race that we see Kevin Harvick have just an “okay” race–by his standards. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still a top 5 contender (we saw that at Homestead), but I don’t think this #4 Ford has the speed the beat guys like Martin Truex, Jr., Kyle Larson, and Brad Keselowski on Sunday. So in order for Kevin Harvick to grab those dominator points, at least two of those will have to run into trouble. It’s certainly possible, but it’s not guarantee.

With that being said, as you can see in my Projections chart below, I have Harvick projected with the 3rd-highest ceiling of all drivers. There’s still that dominator potential there, and you shouldn’t completely fade him. I just wouldn’t recommend, by any means, going 70-80% exposure with him, like I have personally done in the past for most Atlanta races.

GPP / Tournament Picks

Brad Keselowski 2019 Discount Tire Ford
Photo Credit: Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Brad Keselowski ($10,200) – Repeat after me: do not put too much stock into the 2021 Homestead and Las Vegas race speeds. Okay, now that we got that warning out of the way, let’s look at how Brad Keselowski has done at Homestead and Las Vegas this year. In addition to the best Green Flag Speed in those two races, Kez also has the 3rd-best average running position. And my favorite part: he put up 28 fastest laps at Homestead and 30 fastest laps at Las Vegas. And here at Atlanta, Keselowski has put up 19 and 28 fastest laps over the last two races. Also, over the last four races at this track, there have been two winners: Kevin Harvick (twice) and Brad Keselowski (twice). With my Projections (below), I don’t have Kez getting a ton of dominator points, and he’s still the 4th-highest projected scoring driver. I love being overweight on him in tournaments, as I do all of Penske really, as Joey Logano ($9,400) and Ryan Blaney ($9,200) have high-scoring potential as well, but I think Kez is the better play between the three in tournaments.

EDIT ON SATURDAY MORNING: The more I’m thinking about, the more and more I’m liking Ryan Blaney this week. He has top 5 upside on Sunday and has the 7th-most fastest laps at Atlanta over the last two years.

Alex Bowman ($8,800) – As unofficial leader of the Alex Bowman Fan Club, I simply cannot keep him off of my tournament picks list. While his teammate, William Byron ($9,000), is sure to get some attention this weekend thanks to his dominating performance at Homestead, I like Bowman a little bit better. First, he’s priced right there above the chalk, Austin Cindric ($8,600) and Tyler Reddick ($8,400), so that will keep Bowman’s ownership down. Plus, Bowman has been downright disappointing this season, and has killed the weeks for many Fantasy NASCAR players–myself included. But to quote a great Sting song, “If I ever lose my faith in you, there’d be nothing left for me to do.” Last year on “high-wear” race track, Bowman had the 3rd-best average running position, the 5th-most fastest laps, and the 2nd-most laps led. In the two intermediate races this year, Bowman has the 6th-best average running position and the 7th-best Green Flag Speed. You can jump on this Bowman train with me or stay away, but just to let you know…

Chris Buescher ($6,000) – My projections love Chris Buescher this weekend even though he his average projected finish (17.5) is slightly worse than his starting position (17th). But at just a $6,000 salary, you’re getting a driver that could have top 10 potential on Sunday, and who should be quite low-owned. Buescher’s record here at Atlanta isn’t great–only one top 20 finish in five starts–but that’s just another reason people will lay off of him. Another thing to consider: Buescher hasn’t finished worse than 19th this season except for the Daytona 500, which ironically was the last time I was high on him as well. Will the #JordanJinx strike again? Let’s hope not…

Cash Core Drivers

Kyle Larson leading Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott at Las Vegas Motor Speedway 2021
Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Kyle Larson ($10,400) – The #JordanJinx struck again last weekend at Phoenix, as Kyle Larson was nabbed for two speeding penalties after having to start from the rear due to inspection issues. And guess what? He still had a race winning car. That #5 Chevrolet has been bad fast all season long and the last time Kyle Larson raced here at Atlanta, he led 142 laps and posted 54 fastest laps before a, you guessed it, speeding penalty derailed his day. Hey, it’s still not as bad as Denny Hamlin. This weekend, Larson is a race win contender and starts 6th, so there’s a bit of place differential potential there as well. He finished 4th at Homestead a few weeks ago and we all know what Larson did to the field at Las Vegas…

Want to see my optimal lineups? Click here for this week’s Optimal post for Atlanta.

Austin Cindric ($8,600) – One downfall of this starting lineup format is that when someone like Austin Cindric jumps up to the Cup Series for a race, he’s automatically going to start in the back. As is the case this weekend. Cindric starts dead last for Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 but is in a third Penske car, so there’s no doubt he has the horsepower to challenge for a solid finish (at least a top 20). You can get cute and try and intentionally fade Cindric since pretty much everyone will have him in their cash lineup, but that’s a strategy that’s more for tournaments.

Anthony Alfredo ($5,500) – Thus far in 2021, Anthony Alfredo has really only had two bad races: the Daytona 500 when his car went up in flames, and then Phoenix last weekend when Cody Ware decided to punt the #38 Ford into the wall. And now we’re stuck with Alfredo starting 32nd at Atlanta on Sunday and priced at only $5,500 on DraftKings. Chalk city. At Homestead a few weeks ago, Alfredo was able to stay out of trouble and finish 24th, and he did the exact same thing at Las Vegas. Last year at Atlanta, John Hunter Nemechek drove this #38 Ford to a 23rd-place finish, for what it’s worth.

Atlanta Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 DraftKings Driver Projections

NEW THIS WEEK: Ownership Projections!

The following chart takes into account the very basics: the starting position and the projected finish of each driver. The projected finishes are averaged from six different ranking systems. Also factored in are projected laps led and fastest laps for each driver. You can click the headers below to sort the chart by that attribute. By default it is sorted by average projected FPTS.

DriverDraftKings SalaryAvg Proj FPTSProj OwnershipStarting PositionCeiling Proj FPTSAvg. Projected FinishDollar Per FPT
Martin Truex Jr$9,60081.7323.43%2116.6002.3$117
Kyle Larson$10,40079.6529.92%6106.7504.3$131
Brad Keselowski$10,20057.9718.64%481.3503.8$176
Kevin Harvick$11,00057.7032.96%793.0505.3$191
Denny Hamlin$10,00056.5828.83%182.4503.7$177
William Byron$9,00049.9214.40%974.5008.8$180
Ryan Blaney$9,20049.7821.44%1059.6008.5$185
Kyle Busch$10,70049.0219.97%1964.6510.2$218
Alex Bowman$8,80044.4015.33%1463.4510.0$198
Tyler Reddick$8,40044.1035.47%2959.3016.5$190
Chase Elliott$9,80042.7524.10%569.3006.8$229
Kurt Busch$8,30042.3817.01%1156.9508.0$196
Austin Cindric$8,60041.6743.96%3965.4021.3$206
Ryan Newman$7,10038.9225.38%2851.9517.8$182
Joey Logano$9,40037.5816.39%370.7507.5$250
Christopher Bell$7,80033.7513.21%848.0510.5$231
Cole Custer$7,60033.3722.41%2755.5020.7$228
Austin Dillon$7,30032.527.55%1342.4012.7$225
Aric Almirola$8,00032.3215.22%1648.7515.2$248
Matt DiBenedetto$8,10032.2313.17%2050.0016.7$251
Erik Jones$7,00029.7314.68%2240.8018.3$235
Chris Buescher$6,00029.0810.01%1748.6517.5$206
Ricky Stenhouse Jr$6,30028.578.91%1250.9514.7$221
Chase Briscoe$6,80027.8514.92%2440.6020.3$244
Michael McDowell$6,10024.9012.14%1841.0518.8$245
Ross Chastain$6,60024.625.14%2144.7520.2$268
Anthony Alfredo$5,50022.0035.72%3231.3526.2$250
Ryan Preece$5,80020.337.34%2337.8023.2$285
Daniel Suarez$6,50019.1715.73%2537.3524.8$339
Corey Lajoie$5,30018.679.31%3024.9027.0$284
Bubba Wallace$7,40014.179.08%1535.6022.2$522
Josh Bilicki$4,80011.172.32%3716.0033.7$430
Justin Haley$5,60011.004.86%2621.3528.8$509
Joey Gase$5,00011.002.24%3618.0033.2$455
Quin Houff$4,70010.501.92%3517.0033.0$448
Cody Ware$4,50009.001.87%3315.0033.2$500
Timmy Hill$4,90007.671.72%3813.0036.0$639
BJ McLeod$4,60007.672.00%3115.0032.5$600
James Davison$5,10003.501.29%3409.0036.2$1,457
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.