Victory Lane – Folds of Honor Quik Trip 500
By Tyler Miller – @rickybobby_jr
Chase Elliott drew the top starting position for the Folds of Honor Quik Trip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon. This is a 500 mile race on a worn out racing surface that creates exciting action and puts a premium on mistake-free endurance (For a statistical analysis, see The Setup). We need to find the right balance of drivers who have been performing well this season and drivers who have a strong track record at Atlanta for our DFS lineups. Let’s get started.
Kevin Harvick ($14,000/11,700) You can’t ignore Kevin Harvick’s track record at Atlanta. Harvick is the best play and probably the safest play this weekend. This year, Harvick has finished in the top 10 in 8 of 9 races (including a win and 5 top 5 finishes). His worst finish this season is 11th. Harvick and Jimmie Johnson are tied for the best driver rating at Atlanta, though Harvick only has 2 wins in 29 races (those two wins are 17 years apart). Harvick has finished in the top 10 in 8 of his last 9 races at Atlanta, including a win and 4 top 5 finishes with a worst finish of 19th in 2014. Lock Harvick in your lineups.
Brad Keselowski ($13,200/8,900) Last year’s Atlanta winner is carrying some momentum into Atlanta this weekend. It’s worth noting that Keselowski’s two wins this season have been handed to him on a silver platter (see Charlotte and Bristol) but nevertheless, Keselowski is in the right position at the end of the race to take advantage of the opportunity. Keselowski is 4th in driver rating at Atlanta, tops in average running position, and he is coming off 3 straight top 2 finishes at the track (5 straight inside the top 10). I’m locking Keselowski into my lineup with Harvick this weekend.
Kurt Busch ($11,000/9,400) Kurt Busch has been incredibly consistent at Atlanta Motor Speedway since 2008. In that span of time, 13 races, Busch has finished in the top 10 10 times. He crashed in 2009 and finished 38th but otherwise his worst finish is 13th and he has 2 wins in that span (3 wins at the track overall). Kurt is 3rd in driver rating, 8th in average running position, and should be able to move forward from his 12th place starting position.
Jimmie Johnson ($10,000/10,200) Jimmie Johnson is starting 15th on Sunday and has a strong record at Atlanta Motor Speedway with the top (tied with Harvick) driver rating and 2nd in average running position. Johnson has 5 wins at Atlanta including back to back in 2007 and 2015-2016. In the last 3 races however, Johnson has failed to finish on the lead lap and has an average finish of 23rd. Considering the momentum of Hendrick Motorsports right now, I think Johnson is a solid play for Sunday.
Chase Elliott ($12,300/9,900) Chase Elliott is the hottest driver in NASCAR with a cup and truck win at Charlotte and three races that he “should have” won (Charlotte, Darlington, Bristol). There is a lot to like with Elliott on Sunday. He will certainly lead some laps early since he is starting on the pole, but there is a risk of negative differential if Elliott ends up finishing in his average finishing position of 10th. Elliott is 9th in driver rating and 3rd in average running position. If you play Elliott it is because of his current season momentum and the chance for dozens of laps led early in the race. He is a solid play, but I think there are better plays at his price point.
Alex Bowman ($11,400/9,100) Alex Bowman has been lights out at intermediate race tracks in the past year. Bowman won at Auto Club Speedway earlier this year which has a similar track surface to Atlanta (old and worn out, hard on tires) but Bowman has struggled at this track in his career. Bowman’s career statistics at tracks are misleading because he raced for some really bad teams before he came to Hendrick Motorsports, but even in his 2 races at Atlanta for HMS he has finished 20th and 15th. Similar to Elliott, Bowman would be a momentum play based on Hendrick’s current strength, not a play based on track history.
Christopher Bell ($6,000/7,400) Sunday will be Christopher Bell’s first cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Bell is starting 27th so he has plenty of room for positive differential points. In two career Xfinity race at Atlanta, Bell finished 3rd and 1st. In two career truck races at Atlanta, Bell crashed (finished 26th) and won. I think Christopher Bell will come into this track with extreme confidence and finish in the top 20, maybe even the top 15.
Erik Jones ($9,000/6,600) I low-key like Erik Jones this week, especially on Draft Kings where he is way too cheap. Jones has been really consistent at Atlanta Motor Speeway in 3 career starts he has finished 14th, 11th, and 7th. Jones starts 14th which is why he is cheap on DK, but he could realistically improve on his starting position by 3-5 spots and get a top 10 finish which is a great return for his salary.
Ryan Preece ($5,000/6,200) Ryan Preece has had a miserable season with only 3 finishes inside the top 20. Preece crashed in his only start at Atlanta last year and finished 35th but his teammate in that race, Chris Buescher, finished 9th. I don’t expece Preece to finish in the top 10, but with a 5k price tag and a 29th place starting position, I like Preece to move up 10-12 places and compete for a top 20 finish on Sunday which would make him a solid play to help your lineup fit together.
My core lineup for Sunday includes Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, and Christopher Bell. Good luck to all our subscribers this weekend!
Tyler Miller is a lifelong NASCAR enthusiast who spent five years as a producer on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (2008-2013). Upon meeting his wife in Washington DC, Tyler became an Army spouse and left his career to move all over the country and help raise their two children. Tyler holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sport Communication and Electronic Media Production from Ashland University and a Masters’ of Science in Marketing: Sports Marketing and Media, from Liberty University.