By Jordan McAbee
With some moderate success in NASCAR Fantasy Live last weekend at Daytona, it’s time to set our sights on the QuikTrip Folds of Honor 500 this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. If you had the exact same roster as me for Daytona, we’re sitting with 197.5 total points after race #1, in the 97.4 percentile. Not too bad; it’s always nice to get off to a good start with your fantasy racing team.
For Sunday’s Atlanta race, there are a lot of options. While the best roster going into last Sunday was pretty clear cut, it’s hard to say how this race will unfold. There’s also quite a few good cars starting mid-pack or worse in the QuikTrip Folds of Honor 500. We’re set to run 325 laps once the race goes green this weekend, and that means we’ll have just over 160 bonus points up for grabs for laps led as well as fastest laps.
NASCAR.com Fantasy Live Picks for Atlanta
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. ($26.75) – I had a really hard time dropping Denny Hamlin for Dale Earnhardt, Jr., but I did it. The reason was because I had Hamlin locked in at $26.00 from last week, and he went up a quarter in price. Yeah, it’s only a quarter, but quarters can be very valuable in this Fantasy NASCAR game. However, I have my reasons for taking Junior this week. One, he’s pretty good at Atlanta, with no finish worse than 11th in the last four events here. The #88 Chevrolet was also one of the fastest cars in Happy Hour on Saturday, posting the 6th-best ten-lap average and the 4th-best overall lap. Also, we’re going to Las Vegas next week, a track that Junior has been exceptional at lately. You never know if his price may increase this week or not. I have the #88 Chevrolet as a top 5 car heading into Sunday’s QuikTrip Folds of Honor 500, and if that works out, we should get a good amount of points from Earnhardt considering he starts 16th. I’d love to see a repeat of 2015, though, where the #88 came home 3rd. It’s possible.
Jimmie Johnson ($26.50) – He may have scored the 9th-most points last week in NASCAR.com Fantasy Live, but I’m expecting an even bigger week out of Jimmie Johnson here at Atlanta on Sunday. First, he starts 19th, so there’s the opportunity for a lot of place differential points. Also, I personally thought that the #48 Chevrolet was the car to beat on Saturday, so if Jimmie can get out front, there’s lap led points coming our way as well. Finally, as of now I have Johnson as the favorite to win the QuikTrip Folds of Honor 500, so obviously we want that driver on our team. JJ is one of the best value picks you can grab in NASCAR.com Fantasy Live this week, especially considering he’s a 4-time winner here at Atlanta Motor Speedway and he has four top 5s in the last six races here–including a win from the 37th starting spot one year ago.
Kyle Busch ($27.50) – Typically I stay away from the highest priced drivers in this game, but the fact that Kyle Busch is starting from the rear of the field means that he’s simply too good to pass up. Not only are there a ton of place differential points possible with Rowdy on Sunday, but I also have him as a possible top 5 threat in the race. Kyle Busch could very well be the highest-scoring driver in the NASCAR.com Fantasy Live game on Sunday. The #18 Toyota has some nice speed for the QuikTrip Folds of Honor 500 (I mean, Kyle did technically win the pole) and Rowdy has ended up 6th or better in three of his last five starts at this track. Don’t forget that Busch did miss this race a year ago because of his injury, but Kyle went to victory lane here at Atlanta in the 2013 race.
Danica Patrick ($11.75) – …I can’t believe I’m doing this. Well, in order to be able to afford the drivers above, you have to make some sacrifices. This is a race where I’m willing to take a risk (huge risk) with Danica because she actually hasn’t been too bad at Atlanta Motor Speedway; last year she came home 16th after starting 18th, and she finished 6th in the 2014 race despite starting back in 27th. I’m pretty sure that that 6th-place finish was legitimate, too, meaning she just had a great race. If Danica can stay on the lead lap in the QuikTrip Folds of Honor 500 on Sunday, she’s capable of pulling off a top 20 again. She starts 25th, so if she does slap the wall, the damage won’t be too terrible in terms of fantasy points.
Landon Cassill ($7.50) – I mentioned last week that I wanted to fit Landon Cassill in my roster for Daytona but just couldn’t make it work. He was $7.00 last week and already jumped up to $7.50 this week. I honestly think this is one driver that could see a huge price increase as the season wears on, so it’d be best to lock him in at $7.50 while we can. Cassill is your typical low-dollar driver that you need to fill a roster with NASCAR.com Fantasy Live. However, there’s a lot of potential with him and this #38 team. For a great article on how much of a bargain Cassill could end up being this year, check out Zach Joyce’s post over at ifantasyrace. He will start 29th for Sunday’s race at Atlanta.
Race Winner Pick: Jimmie Johnson
Manufacturer Pick: Chevrolet