We’re at Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. Most people think of 1.5-mile tracks as relatively boring venues, but Atlanta is different; this track is super rough and tire management plays a huge factor in the race. Not to mention, there’s 500 miles scheduled for Sunday, so there’s more time than usual for stuff to play out. In addition to looking at statistics from other 1.5-mile tracks, I’d recommend looking at the other high-wear tracks, which are: Chicagoland, Darlington, Fontana, and Homestead.
The starting lineup for Sunday afternoon’s race was set by random draw on Thursday evening. Chase Elliott, who has had the fastest car all season (click here for the Green Flag Speed Cheat Sheet) drew the pole. Click here for the full starting lineup for the QuikTrip Folds of Honor 500.
*Please note: the picks and suggestions below are my opinions and strategy for the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. These are not meant to sway your thinking in any way, but rather give you insight into the drivers I am most likely to pick on race day.*
Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest Picks for Atlanta
Kevin Harvick ($12,800) – Death, taxes, Denny Hamlin speeding, and Kevin Harvick at Atlanta. Those are the guarantees in life. “Happy” is just a stud at this race track, and he’s led 1,061 laps over the last eight races here. No, that’s not a typo. Harvick has also finished 9th or better in eight of the last nine races here, and he’s starting 9th here on Sunday, so he’s got some room to grab place differential points in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. My only minor concern with Harvick is how Rodney Childers keeps setting this #4 Ford up for short runs, but after this team’s embarrassing collapse at Charlotte, you have to think he’s going to tone that down a bit.
Martin Truex, Jr. ($11,900) – I’m kind of hesitant to pick Martin Truex, Jr. this weekend, and for a couple of reasons. One, I think he’s going to be pretty high owned in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest, which means there’s a strategy opportunity for not picking him. Also, this #19 team has been hit or miss on speed since NASCAR returned from the COVID hiatus. Still, all things considered, Truex should be a great fantasy pick here at Atlanta on Sunday. He starts back in 11th, giving him room to get place differential points, and Truex has finished 8th or better in seven of his last eight starts at this track.
Matt DiBenedetto ($8,600) – Do you think I’m worried about Matt DiBenedetto’s career average finish of 28.5 at Atlanta Motor Speedway? Obviously not. Matty D finally had a bad finish at Bristol last week but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s finished 17th or better in every other race this season, including results of 14th or better in the three other races at “high-wear” tracks (Fontana and Darlington). DiBenedetto drew the 21st starting spot for Sunday’s QuikTrip Folds of Honor 500 but should be able to compete for a top 15, if not a top 10. For what it’s worth, Paul Menard finished 14th in this #21 Ford in last year’s Atlanta race.
Tyler Reddick ($8,400) – Another risky pick here with Tyler Reddick, but you can’t deny that this kid has legitimate top 10 potential when he and his team have a mistake-free race. And at a track like Atlanta, where driver talent and tire management trumps all, you have to give Reddick a bit of an advantage over the other drivers underneath the top tier. Looking at the other high-wear tracks this season, Reddick ran 11th at Fontana and then 7th and 13th in the two Darlington races. He starts 24th so should grab a good amount of place differential points on Sunday.
Christopher Bell ($8,000) – This might be the last time Christopher Bell has to start between 25th and 36th with the random Owners Points draw, because after a disastrous start to the season, the #95 Toyota is up to 27th in Owners Points and just 15 points behind 24th. Christopher Bell has been able to climb out of that hole by posting really solid finishes lately, including top 10s at Bristol and Charlotte as well as an 11th-place finish in the second Darlington race. Bell will roll off the grid from 27th when the QuiKTrip Folds of Honor 500 goes green but should be good for at least a mid-teens finish.
Alternate Roster Considerations
There’s one other roster I’m considering heading into Sunday’s race at Atlanta, and that’s switching Matt DiBenedetto and Tyler Reddick from the above lineup with Kurt Busch ($10,800) and Michael McDowell ($6,500). Busch just keeps rattling off good finish after good finish–with six results of 7th or better in the last seven races–while McDowell starts way back in 36th and should be good for a mid-20s finish, which would equal a pretty good amount of place differential points. Overall, I think Reddick and DiBenedetto have the best potential for a high score in Slingshot this weekend, but they’re also riskier than rolling with Kurt Busch and McDowell. I’m pretty much set on Harvick, Truex, and Bell being in my lineup for Atlanta.