We’re already on to race #6 of the 2021 season, and before we head to what will likely be a shit show of a race at Bristol on the dirt next weekend, the NASCAR Cup Series stops at Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. The 500 is a bit significant, as this will be the first intermediate race that’s 500 miles in length this season. Atlanta always produces some great racing action, and has been relatively predictable over the years. Kevin Harvick has absolutely dominated this place lately. Can he keep it up this weekend?
Lineup Construction: One question to think about for lineup construction is, how many dominators are we going to have? Historically, Atlanta has been a one-dominator race, maybe one-and-a-half. It’s always been Kevin Harvick and then maybe another driver gets up there and leads 50 laps or so. If Sunday’s race stays true to Atlanta history, and we have just a one dominator race, that opens up a more centralized lineup construction approach. However, with the place differential potential in the $6,000 – $7,500 range, we could definitely see the optimal lineup being two of those low priced guys and then three high-priced drivers. Don’t be afraid to leave some cap room on the table, either…
P.S. If you look at driver salaries on FanDuel this week and think you’ve seen that order before, it looks as though FanDuel has simply decided to go in almost exactly the same order as the betting odds for the race which is… interesting, to say the least.
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2020 “High-Wear” Intermediate Track Statistics
Atlanta Motor Speedway is a “high-wear” intermediate track that compares most similarly to Homestead-Miami, where we just raced a few weeks ago. We also have a race at Las Vegas under our belt this year, which is a “low-wear” track but still notable since it is 2021 intermediate data. Below you can check out the loop data for both of those races, but as I warned in my Preview article this week, I wouldn’t put all your eggs into those baskets.
|2021 Race||Loop Data|
|Homestead-Miami Speedway||Click here||Click here|
|Las Vegas Motor Speedway||Click here||Click here|
Just like for Homestead, you can find the statistics for drivers in 2020 on “high-wear” tracks. This included three events at Darlington, a race here at Atlanta, a race at Homestead, and a race at Auto Club Speedway.
|Martin Truex Jr||6||11.2||7.21||107.0||176||280||1480||1659|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||5||19.4||20.15||62.6||11||6||402||1363|
FanDuel “Safe” DFS Picks for Atlanta (Cash Lineups)
Kyle Busch ($10,700) – Last week at Phoenix, I went super heavy on Kyle Busch. If you watched the race, you know how that turned out. But I must be a glutton for punishment because I’m going right back to the Rowdy well this weekend. Busch is under-priced at a track where driver talent comes into play a lot. The Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas have more speed than expected to start the season, and when Kyle hasn’t ran into issues during the race this year, he’s been solid (10th at Homestead, 3rd at Las Vegas). Here at Atlanta, Rowdy is a constant top 5 threat and has finished 7th or better in seven of the last ten races here. Last year on “high-wear” tracks, Busch had the 3rd-best average finish and 6th-best average running position. I understand why some people may be a little hesitant with Kyle Busch, but top 5 upside and place differential potential of 10+ spots is way too hard to pass up at $10,700 on FanDuel.
Ryan Newman ($6,000) – I debated between Tyler Reddick ($7,500) and Ryan Newman here and obviously decided to go with The Rocketman because of the huge price gap. Reddick has higher upside on Sunday but Newman is a safe play even though he starts 28th. He’s one of those drivers that just stays out of trouble and finishes in the mid-teens by the end of it on these intermediate tracks. At Homestead this year, Newman out-performed himself and finished 7th, followed by an 18th-place result at Las Vegas. Here specifically at Atlanta, Newman has finished top 15 in the last two races, and on “high-wear” tracks last year he had an average finish of 17.6.
FanDuel “Risky” DFS Picks for Atlanta (Tournament Lineups)
Martin Truex, Jr. ($13,500) – Any time you pick drivers on the front row, especially on FanDuel, it’s risky. You need the driver to lead a significant amount of laps for this to work out, especially at a high salary. But the more I think about how this race is going to unfold on Sunday, the more I think Truex could pull off a Harvick performance. As I said before, I believe the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas are stronger out of the gate than most people realize (with so much hype around Hendrick), and Truex has essentially just played second fiddle to Harvick here at Atlanta over the years. As you can see with the Projections, I’m not projecting Harvick to be his typical Atlanta-dominant self on Sunday, but the upside is there. If the Projections are correct, though, I think Truex slides into that role. Truex actually has the most fastest laps here at Atlanta over the last two years, and while that isn’t a metric scored on FanDuel, it’s still a nice stat to know. Last year over the six “high-wear” races, Truex led the 2nd-most laps and had the 3rd-best average running position. If he can take the lead away from teammate, Denny Hamlin, early, we could see Truex lead 100+ laps on Sunday.
Aric Almirola ($8,000) – We’ll call this one “likely overlooked” in FanDuel on Sunday. Aric Almirola is off to a rough start in 2021 and has more things going against him than almost every other driver in the mind of Fantasy NASCAR players. But it’s not like this guy has forgotten how to drive, and he was actually one of the better drivers on “high-wear” tracks last season, with an average finish of 9.7 (which was 7th-best in the series) and an average running position of 12.1 (9th-best). Here at Atlanta, Almirola finished 8th in 2019 and 17th last year, and has ended up 15th or better in five of his last seven starts at this track.
Atlanta Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 FanDuel Driver 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 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.
Also included are “Ceiling” projections for each driver. This is the top possible score projected.
|Driver||FanDuel Salary||Avg Proj Pts||Starting Position||Ceiling Proj Pts||Dollar Per Pt|
|Martin Truex Jr.||$13,500||79.98||2||86.00||$169|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||$6,500||56.25||12||70.50||$116|