Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:54 AM

NASCAR Honor QuikTrip 500 Picks

NASCAR Cup Series
Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500

The top story coming into Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway’s 1.54-mile layout is the worn-out old asphalt surface that shreds tires and makes a fuel window unnecessary to discuss because tires will mean everything. Staying on old tires too long to gain track position is a bad strategy but one that might be used late Sunday in an attempt to steal a win. The drivers all seem to like the old surface and have begged AMS not to repave it the last three seasons.    
“I love Atlanta,” Clint Bowyer said. ”I think everybody likes Atlanta. If you are a racecar driver, you get up on the wheel and are slipping and sliding around. You work your rear end off there. That is what you look for in a racetrack.” 
Bowyer is posted by the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook at 80-to-1 odds to win and comes off his best two Atlanta races of his career finishing third in 2018 and fifth last season. Last week he finished fifth at Phoenix and could come in with some momentum.
Another driver listed at 80-to-1 odds who likes the surface is Matt DiBenedetto.
“I compare it to Fontana,” DiBenedetto said of Atlanta. “The surface is old, and that allows the cars to spread around more. It makes it more racey, more fun.”
The reason you might put a few bucks on a driver like DiBenedetto to do something he’s never done -- win a Cup race -- is that he runner-up at Las Vegas using the same race package used this week.

Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Odds to Win

Top Betting Favorites
Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500

  • Kevin Harvick 9/2 (Bet $100 to win $450)
  • Joey Logano 6/1
  • Brad Keselowski 6/1
  • Chase Elliott 6/1
  • Kyle Busch 8/1
  • Alex Bowman 10/1
  • Martin Truex Jr. 10/1
  • Ryan Blaney 12/1
  • Kyle Larson 14/1
  • Denny Hamlin 20/1
  • More...

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Kevin Harvick is the 9-to-2 favorite to win Sunday and like most other drivers, he also likes the worn surface which hasn’t been resurfaced since 1997.
“I just love the abrasiveness of the racetrack,” Harvick said. “It still has a lot of speed for the first three or four laps, but then it has a lot of fall-off and a lot of bumps that give it character. As a driver, you just love the challenge that comes with racing at Atlanta. This is always one that I circle on my calendar as a favorite and I look forward to racing in Atlanta this weekend.”
Of course, it’s one of his favorites. To begin with, he won at Atlanta in 2001 as a rookie in his third Cup start. But I’ll go out on a limb and suggest Atlanta became one of his favorite tracks since joining Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014 because he’s had dominating cars. He’s led laps in the six races driving for SHR totaling 960 of his 1,197 laps led for his career there. No active driver has led more at Atlanta. He led 181 laps during his 2018 win and led 292 of 325 laps in 2017 but had a late issue that relegated him to a ninth-place finish. He’s the only driver with four top-10 finishes this season and comes in as the points leader.
Harvick deserves to be the favorite based on recent history at Atlanta, but the first thing I thought of when adjusting my ratings for this race was how much better the Hendrick Motorsports cars were in the two races so far using this week’s race package.

Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500
Betting Analysis and Strategies

At Las Vegas, Joey Logano came away with the win, but Chase Elliott had the best car winning the first two stages and leading 70 laps and then experienced some bad luck with a flat tire to start the final stage. Late in the race, it was HMS teammate Alex Bowman who was laying down the fastest laps in the late stages and likely would have won if not pitting during a late caution.
Bowman showed the following week that his late Vegas run wasn’t just a freak deal as he led a race-high 110 laps at Fontana and took the checkers for the second Cup win of his career. Chances are this week at Atlanta, he’ll fast again.   
“We should be good,” Bowman said. “Atlanta is a lot of fun. I’m excited about the new Camaro ZL1 1LE and what we’ve seen with it so far. I think we can be really strong there. It’s another place where you can move around a lot. Tire management is really key. You can move to the top and pass a lot of cars and five laps later, you’re going backwards. So, managing that is a lot of fun. It should be a good race for us.”
If Bowman should be just as good as he was at Las Vegas and Fontana then 10-to-1 odds to win should be super attractive. Georgia native Elliott is 6-to-1 and five-time Atlanta winner Jimmie Johnson is 20-to-1 in what is expected to be his final race on the high-banked quad-oval.  Johnson was fifth at Las Vegas and seventh at Fontana. The Hendrick organization has a track record 14 wins in Atlanta. 
Team Penske figures to be strong again this week with Logano and Brad Keselowski both set at 6-to-1 odds to win with Ryan Blaney at 12-to-1. Blaney could probably have three wins between the four races already while Logano has two wins in four races. But it’s Keselowski who has been the Atlanta star the past three seasons with two wins sandwiched by a runner-up in 2018. Keselowski was seventh at Las Vegas and fifth at Fontana. 
Joe Gibbs Racing sent three of their four drivers to the Championship 4 last season in part because of doing so well collectively with this week’s race package winning nine of the 18 races.  Kyle Busch is a two-time winner at Atlanta, which includes a Toyota winning there for the first time in 2008. He was runner-up at Fontana two weeks ago after a sluggish 15th at Las Vegas. 
Denny Hamlin kicked off the season with a Daytona 500 win but struggled at Las Vegas with basically the race package he used last season to capture three wins in 18 races. He battled hard at Fontana for sixth with the same package, so maybe Atlanta is a place he can make more improvements. 
“Absolutely,” Hamlin said. “We have a win there (2012). Of course, we’d like to add another. We just have to put Phoenix behind us and get back to work. We are surrounded by all the right people, putting in all the work to give us the best result we can possibly get.”
Hamlin has led 392 laps at Atlanta scattered throughout his 20 career starts and is being offered at 20-to-1 odds to win.
Martin Truex Jr. led the series last season with seven wins, but he’s off to a slow start and perhaps it’s an easy stab in the dark, but the matter of having a new crew chief for 2020 has to be considered as a cohesion issue. But I’m not worried about them because they’ll be winning eventually, however, Truex has never won at Atlanta despite his entire career being about winning on these types of tracks. 
One last thing to mention regarding the coronavirus concerns with places like San Francisco, Oakland, and Seattle limiting the amount people to gather in one place. The Warriors will play to an empty arena against the Nets on Thursday. NASCAR and the tracks have put in a few new precautionary rules regarding media, driver appearances, and crew chief driver meetings being done in open air as the virus spreads more as expected.  
“I think everybody sees the headlines and reads the news just like anybody else,” said Bowyer. “From what I can tell, there are a lot of unknowns and mixed feelings. Some people say it is bad and the next person says it is nothing but a cold. I treat my fans no differently than the next guy. I am going to shake his hand and appreciate him being here.”
Clint Bowyer, a man of the people. Forget broadcasting, Bowyer should run for office in his home state of Kansas when his Cup career is finished.

Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500
Top-Five Finish Prediction

1) #88 Alex Bowman (10/1)
2) #2 Brad Keselowski (6/1)
3) #9 Chase Elliott (6/1)
4) #48 Jimmie Johnson (20/1)
5) #12 Ryan Blaney (12/1

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