The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season rolls on this weekend with the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday. Atlanta is a “high-wear” intermediate track that is 1.5 miles in length. It compares well to Homestead, where we just raced at a few weeks ago, and other “high-wear” tracks such as Darlington and Auto Club. The front runners at Atlanta have been pretty predictable over the years and I would expect much of the same to happen this time around as well.
With Sunday’s race at Atlanta, we have Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex, Jr. on the front row followed by Penske teammates of Joey Logano Brad Keselowski in row two and then Hendrick teammates Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson in the third row. You can click here to see the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Starting Lineup.
*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.*
My Algorithm Predicted Finishing Order for Sunday’s race at Atlanta can be found by clicking here! Also, if you enjoy the FREE NASCAR content on this site and everything it has to offer, consider supporting by donating here.
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Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest Picks for Atlanta
Kevin Harvick ($12,600) – The words “safe” and “Kevin Harvick” just go hand in hand at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. We’re all just waiting for the year where he truly struggles here, but let me tell you, it’s probably not coming anytime soon. Harvick has won four of the last eight Stages here at Atlanta and has also won two of the last three races overall. He’s also led a ton of laps here recently (watch the video above for more on that). This Sunday, the #4 Ford will roll off the grid from 7th, so not only does Harvick have a little bit of place differential potential, but he could probably still end up winning this race. Don’t over-think this one. Even with his “struggles” at Homestead, Harvick was a top 5 car, and he’s even better at Atlanta than he is at Homestead.
Kyle Busch ($11,900) – No, I’m not concerned about Kyle Busch’s start to the 2021 season. Right now, this is just the norm for Kyle Busch. Even so, he got a top 10 at Homestead a few weeks ago and finished 3rd at Las Vegas, and last weekend at Phoenix the #18 Toyota was actually pretty strong for the first half of the race before it all went to hell. Atlanta Motor Speedway is a driver’s race track and the talented drivers will be the ones that finish well on Sunday. Rowdy has finished 7th or better in six of his last eight starts at this track and is a top 10 contender here on Sunday. With him starting back in 19th, that makes him a great Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest pick due to the large place differential upside.
Austin Cindric ($8,200) – I went over this one for a bit in my video above, but if you didn’t watch that…I will not be entering a Slingshot lineup this weekend without Austin Cindric on it. The absolute worst score that he can have here on Sunday is 4 Slingshot points. A 20th-place finish from him gets you 90 Slingshot points. He’s the safest driver to pick this week when it comes to place differential NASCAR Fantasy contests this week, and he has the most upside as well. Also, not that it translates much, but looking at Xfinity races last year, Cindric led significant laps at both Atlanta and Homestead, which is obviously a confidence booster for his Cup start here compared to him struggling mightily at those two venues.
Martin Truex, Jr. ($12,300) – Please note that this isn’t risky in the general sense of the word when it comes to Fantasy NASCAR, but rather risky in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest specifically. I fully believe that Martin Truex, Jr. can win this race, and my algorithm agrees with that as well. I also think Truex could lead the most laps this race, and obviously get plenty of Stage points. But picking a driver starting 2nd in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest is always risky simply because the what if something happens factor. One mistake by a driver like Truex this week can ruin your roster. Still, nobody has more fastest laps than Truex over the last two years at Atlanta, and he has the best average running position as well. The #19 Toyota will be a contender on Sunday.
William Byron ($10,000) – Like I said, you don’t want to lean too heavily on the Homestead race this year, but in addition to Byron’s win there, he also had the 5th-best average running position and 5th-best Green Flag Speed at Las Vegas before ultimately finishing 8th. Through three career starts here at Atlanta, Byron has yet to finish better than 17th, but that could easily change this weekend–especially if this #24 team brings a car with similar speed to what it had at Homestead, as that is the most similar track to Atlanta. Byron starts 9th here on Sunday so that high of a starting position is a bit risky, but he could put up a big Slingshot score this week if he runs top 5 and gets Stage points.
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. ($7,300) – This is a risky one for sure, especially in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. But, at the same time, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. is a consideration in all Fantasy NASCAR formats for Atlanta. This #47 team is running really well to start out the 2021 season, and Atlanta itself has been kind to Stenhouse over the years. This season, Ricky hasn’t finished worse than 18th through the first five races, and over the last three he hasn’t ended up worse than 13th. Here at Atlanta specifically, Stenhouse has finished between 10th and 18th in each of his last five starts. If he can replicate a finish like that and steal some Stage points on Sunday, Stenhouse could end up being a great Slingshot pick for his salary.
“Race Winner” Pick = Martin Truex, Jr. – Relying on my algorithm again here. It’s between Martin Truex, Jr. and Kyle Larson for me personally, but I’ll go with Truex because he has a little bit better pit stall selection. Here at Atlanta, MTJ has never won a race, but he won both Stages here last year before ultimately finishing 3rd, and he’s finished top 5 in each of the last three events at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Now that Truex and crew chief, James Small, have a full season under their belt, I think we could see a breakout-type year from Truex, and that may start this weekend at Atlanta with his second win of this early season.