We head to Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend for the Quaker State 400, the 21st points-paying race of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season. This will be the second Atlanta race of the year, and if you remember back to the first one, you probably remember it being quite a snoozer: Kyle Larson absolutely dominated all day and then there was some excitement late when Ryan Blaney was able to get around him and steal the win.
As always, make sure you check out the Algorithm Predicted Finishing Order for this race (click here), and also this week’s episode of Stacking Dennys, the podcast RotoDoc and I started. You can listen to that by clicking here.
After another road course win at Road America last weekend, Chase Elliott will be starting on the pole for Sunday’s Quaker State 400, but he’ll be surrounded by Joe Gibbs Racing, as those four drivers will line up from 2nd through 5th. You can click here to see the starting lineup for Sunday’s race to see where everyone else will line up. Now let’s get to the picks!
*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.*
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Jordan’s Strategy Breakdown Video
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Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest Picks for Atlanta (Quaker State 400)
Kyle Larson ($12,500) – Atlanta Motor Speedway was a very good track for Kyle Larson when he was with Chip Ganassi Racing, and with just one race under his belt in a Hendrick Motorsports ride, he more than doubled his laps led at this track and tied his career-best finish here (2nd). Larson has won three of the last four Stages at Atlanta in the races he’s participated in and also led 311 laps. He starts 6th this weekend, too, which means he has a little bit of place differential potential in this Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. He’s a no-brainer in the Fantasy NASCAR world this week.
Ryan Blaney ($10,900) – It’s hard to beat Ryan Blaney’s value and price combination in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest this weekend, as the most recent race winner here at Atlanta is starting from back in 15th. As mentioned in my breakdown video (linked above), there’s a little bit of concern for me when it comes to how Penske as a whole is running recently, but Blaney’s stats are hard to ignore; on the “high-wear” tracks this season, he has the 5th-best average running position with an average finish of 13.0 (although he did win here at Atlanta and finished 8th at Darlington). In the five intermediate track races with the 550hp package this season, Blaney has the 8th-best average running position.
Alex Bowman ($10,700) – About the only driver that matches Blaney’s price-per-dollar upside this weekend is Alex Bowman. My algorithm absolutely loves the #48 Chevrolet this weekend even though Bowman has only one “good” finish here at Atlanta (a 3rd in the first race this season). Bowman has the 6th-best average running position on intermediates in this 550hp package and also ranks 6th-best on the “high-wear” tracks in that statistical category as well. Like Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman also has top 5 finishing potential here at Atlanta on Sunday, and he starts a couple spots further back (in 17th).
Martin Truex, Jr. ($11,300) – The weird funk that Martin Truex, Jr. is in continued at Road America last weekend, but now we’re at Atlanta and starting to set our sights on the Playoffs. I fully expect this #19 team to get back on track within the next couple of weeks. As far as Atlanta goes, Truex has three top 5s in his last four starts here and has finished 9th or better in nine of his last ten. In the 550hp package at intermediate tracks this season, MTJ has just one result worse than 9th in the five races, and on “high-wear” tracks in 2021, he’s finished 3rd, 9th, and 1st. He’s a very risky Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest pick because he’s starting 5th and is in such a slump, but if Truex ends up winning here on Sunday, that’s a very solid salary price for a race winner in this game. By the way, he’s running the Auto Owners paint scheme, which has some magic behind it…
Austin Dillon ($8,800) – One guy who could sneak his way into the top 5–yes, the top 5–on Sunday is Austin Dillon. Love him or hate him, AD is actually pretty good at Atlanta Motor Speedway, with “good” finishes of 6th, 11th, 14th, and 11th to his credit over the last six races here. Further, Dillon has finished 12th or better at all 550hp intermediate track races in 2021, including 6th-place runs here at Atlanta as well as at Charlotte. This #3 team has been in or right on the fringe of the top 10 in ten of the last twelve Cup Series races, too. Austin starts up in 13th on Sunday, though, so for $8,800 in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest, he’s going to definitely need a top 5 finish in order for that to gamble to pay off.
Chris Buescher ($8,000) – A driver with a little more place differential upside, and at a cheaper price than Austin Dillon in this Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest is Chris Buescher. Looking at the “high-wear” races this season, Buescher dominated the early part of the Homestead event before falling off in the second half and finishing 19th, and then came home 7th here at Atlanta and then 9th at Darlington. In the other 550hp intermediate races, he ran 14th at Las Vegas, 8th at Kansas, and 8th at Charlotte as well. Here at Atlanta specifically he has two top 10s in his last three starts.
“Race Winner” Pick = Kyle Larson – …do I even have to explain?