Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:05 AM
Best Bets - Atlanta
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Each week during the Monster Energy Cup Series (MENCS) regular season through the Chase, we'll take a look at the best Fantasy plays, as well as Futures and Wagers when applicable, to get you ready for the upcoming race week.
The MENCS rolls into Atlanta Motor Speedway this week for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, scheduled for 2:00 p.m. ET. Unfortunately for race fans, there is an 80 percent chance for rain on Sunday, with a 100 percent chance of rain for Monday, mostly in the morning before clearing out. It wouldn't be shocking in the least to see this race moved to Monday afternoon.
When the green flag does drop Kevin Harvick (5/1) is the overwhelming favorite, and rightly so. Over the past five races at the venerable tri-oval Harvick has ruled the track, posting a 126.6 Average Driving Rating, leading 734 laps while posting 260 of the fastest laps. That's a stat DFS players will certainly want to pay close attention. He has run 97.0 percent of his laps inside the Top 15, posting an Average-Finish Position (AFP) of 9.0. Overall, he has won just once in 27 career starts, posting a 17.3 AFP with six Top 5s, 12 Top 10s and 17 Top 20s. Most of that success has come lately, however.
The pole-sitter will be Kyle Busch (8/1), his first-ever at AMS. Toyota will be looking for the bounce-back after a disappointing weekend at Daytona. Rowdy has 19 career starts under his belt at the track, winning twice while picked up five Top 5s with 423 laps led. He has struggled recently, running just 56.4 of his Atlanta laps inside the Top 15 over the past five years. His Driver Rating of 88.1 ranks ninth over the past five races at the track, so there is a lot more risk using Busch. His brother Kurt Busch (5/1) has three victories under his belt, and he has finished 46.2 percent of his starts at Atlanta (12 of 26) inside the Top 10, posting a 15.6 AFP overall. NASCAR's Loop Data shows him ranked sixth over the past five races with a 97.3 Driver Rating at the track.
Penske Racing's Joey Logano (14/1) was the best finisher on his three-man team last week at DIS, but it was disappointing overall for the Penske Fords. Logano is nipping at the heels of Harvick with a 111.7 Driver Rating across the past five starts in Atlanta. Teammate Brad Keselowski (12/1) checks in fourth with a 99.4 Driver Rating over the past four AMS races. Logano has never won in 11 previous tries in Atlanta, but he has a respectable 17.6 AFP with six Top 10s and 162 laps led. Kes has won once in nine Atlanta starts, finishing in the Top 10 on five occasions. Logano will go off from the 16th position, and has a chance to rack up a very positive number in the Place Differential department. Keselowski will start on the inside of Row 3. Penske third wheel Ryan Blaney (25/1) showed well at Daytona last week before getting collected in a late dust-up. He has had marginal runs of 18th and 25th in his two previous Atlanta starts, but that was in inferior equipment, so he could be in line for his best-ever Atlanta performance and is therefore a nice fantasy sleeper.
Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson (5/1) of Hendrick Motorsports couldn't get out of his own way last weekend, wrecking three cars. The No. 48 looks to rebound, and he has had a lot of success in the ATL. Johnson has won five times in 26 career Atlanta starts, turning in 14 runs in the Top 5 while leading all drivers with an 11.0 AFP (min. three starts). His results have been mixed over the past five Atlanta starts, running just 64.7 percent of his laps inside the Top 15, but he does have 146 laps led during the five-year span which is third among all active drivers.
Erik Jones (25/1) could be a nice sleeper for fantasy and betting purposes. He turned in a 14th-place finish in his rookie season of 2017 in Atlanta. Fellow MECS sophomore Daniel Suarez (50/1) will be looking to rebound after a wreck ended his day early at the 500. He was 21st last season in his first and only MENCS start in Atlanta.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (66/1) is another driver to keep a close eye on. He turned in some outstanding speeds during practice, and he will go off sixth. He has never won in five career starts at the track, but he has four Top 20 finishes and is a nice mid-level DFS option. Darrell Wallace Jr. (100/1) made history last weekend with a runner-up finish, the best-ever MENCS showing by an African-American driver. What can he do for an encore? This will be his first run in a Cup car at Atlanta, but he was sixth on the track in the Xfinity circuit last season.
Martin Truex Jr. (5/1) is listed as a co-favorite this weekend, but he failed to make a qualifying attempt. He failed to pass the Optical Scanning Station (OSS) three times during pre-qualifying inspection. His car chief has been booted for the weekend, and the defending champ will lose 30 minutes of practice time Saturday. MTJ will go off 35th and will have the matriculate his way up through the field. He could be attractice for fantasy purposes, as he is almost a guarantee to post plenty of Place Differential points. He is a much more dicey option when it comes to the betting window, however, given his low spot on the starting grid.