Tires, tires, tires. That’s what all drivers will be worried about once the QuikTrip 500 goes green, as Atlanta Motor Speedway is an old, worn-out race track with major falloff once the tires get even just a couple of laps on them. As an example, we saw Kevin Harvick go from 20th to 8th in one lap in the Xfinity Series race on Saturday, simply because he had new tires and those in front of him didn’t.
Another thing drivers (and DFS players) will be worried about on Sunday is rain: the forecast doesn’t look great, and Monday they’re predicting rain on Monday as well. NASCAR has moved the start time of the race up to 1:00 pm ET, although with the way people are talking, they probably still won’t get started. Still, though, be sure to get your DraftKings rosters in on time.
DraftKings Drivers I Love For Atlanta
Kevin Harvick (10,100) – There’s quite a bit to like about Kevin Harvick this weekend. Over the last four Atlanta races, Harvick has the most fastest laps of all drivers–and by a wide margin (Harvick has 249 while next best is Jimmie Johnson with 89). This weekend, the #4 Ford will roll off the grid from 3rd, and “Happy” should be able to get to the front (in stay there) once the race goes green. He had the 3rd-best twenty-lap average in Happy Hour on Saturday and ranked 7th in ten-lap average. Harvick had the field covered in this race last year, and while he’s not quite as strong this time around, the #4 Ford is definitely a race contender once again. Additionally, in 2017, Harvick ranked 2nd in average fastest laps on 1.5-mile tracks with 33.1 per race.
Joey Logano ($9,000) – I love Joey Logano in DraftKings this weekend. First and foremost, he qualified 16th for Sunday’s QuikTrip Folds of Honor 500, and the #22 Ford has definite top 5 potential. Additionally, only two drivers have more fastest laps than Logano in the last three Atlanta races, and those two are Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson. Additionally, Joey hasn’t finished worse than 14th in the last five races at this track, and three of those were also top results of 6th or better. And the final thing that I really like about Logano this weekend is the fact that he ran the most laps during the Happy Hour practice session, which tells me he really likes his car. And don’t forget that it has speed: Logano was 5th-fastest in that session, and his ten-lap average was impressive too, considering it was ran later in the session.
Austin Dillon ($7,100) – I’m not a fan of how Austin Dillon won the Daytona 500 last weekend, but a win is a win, so what can you do? This week, the #3 Chevrolet won’t be contending for the win, but that doesn’t mean Austin Dillon isn’t a solid pick for DraftKings. He qualified 25th for Sunday’s QuikTrip Folds of Honor 500, and unless he gets into a wreck or has mechanical issues, you can expect a mid-teens finish out of Dillon. Remember, he was running near the front in this race last year but was relegated to a 32nd-place finish after electrical issues. Still, Austin wound up 11th here at Atlanta in 2016, and there has to be speed in this #3 Chevrolet considering his teammate, Ryan Newman, is on the outside pole. As you can see in the chart below, Austin Dillon is one of the better dollar-per-FPT category, and his average finish of 17.8 on the 1.5-mile tracks last season isn’t something to ignore. Note: It was announced on Sunday morning that Austin Dillon will have to start from the rear due to a gear change. His official starting position is still 25th, and I’m still using him.
There are also a few drivers that really messed up in qualifying, or didn’t make an attempt at all. They are: Martin Truex, Jr. ($10,400), who starts 35th, Chase Elliott ($9,500), who starts 27th, Ryan Blaney ($8,400), who starts 26th, and Jimmie Johnson ($8,800), who starts 22nd. All four of these drivers are viable options because of the place differential potential, but will also be highly owned, so keep that in mind.
Denny Hamlin ($9,300) – If you’re looking for a driver that’s going to be low-owned but could come out and have a great performance on Sunday, Denny Hamlin is your guy. The #11 Toyota ranked 1st in ten-lap average during both practice sessions this weekend, and Hamlin will start from 12th when the QuikTrip Folds of Honor 500 goes green, which gives him some room to get positive place differential FPTS. As far as his history here at Atlanta Motor Speedway goes, Hamlin is feast or famine, but he does have a victory (back in 2012), but he does have 48 total fastest laps here over the last four years despite only having one good finish to show for it (3rd in 2014). Finally, looking at the 2017 races on 1.5-mile tracks, the #11 team ranked 6th best in the series with an average finish of 11.5.
Alex Bowman ($7,900) – Between Alex Bowman and William Byron ($7,300), you have a couple of solid sleeper options within the Hendrick Motorsports camp. This weekend, Bowman starts 18th while Byron starts 23rd, so when you take that into account, as well as the fact that Byron is $600 cheaper, chances are more DraftKings players are going to be on the #24 Chevrolet than they will be the #88 Chevrolet. However, I’m one of those people that likes to take a contrarian stance in DFS, which means I’m going to roll the dice with Bowman when I can. Yeah, he starts a little higher than I’d like, but Bowman has Cup experience here at Atlanta (he finished 23rd here with under-funded Tommy Baldwin equipment in 2015) and his 12th-best ten-lap average in Happy Hour on Saturday is actually pretty good. Additionally, Bowman performed pretty well on intermediate tracks while subbing for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in 2015, including top 10 finishes at both Chicago and Kansas as well as a 13th-place effort at Texas.
A.J. Allmendinger ($6,000) – Keep an eye on A.J. Allmendinger this weekend. He’s going to roll off the grid from 21st when this race goes green–which should keep his ownership percentage down–but he honestly has top 15 potential depending on how the race plays out. Remember, JTG Daugherty Racing formed an alliance with Hendrick Motorsports during the past offseason, and if these Chevrolet Camaros are as strong as they say they are, it should work out well for this #47 team. Allmendinger has three top 10 finishes to his credit over twelve career starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and he only has three results outside of the top 20. Obviously another option here is Allmendinger’s teammate, Chris Buescher ($5,900), who starts a little further back (24th)
Salary Cap Relief
David Ragan ($5,600) – With Michael McDowell ($5,700) moving over to Front Row Motorsports, it’s logical to expect David Ragan’s intermediate performance will improve a bit. With that being said, though, Ragan wasn’t terrible on the 1.5-mile tracks last season, as he averaged a finish of 24.9 on this track length. This weekend, Ragan is going to roll off the grid from 29th when we go green, but he could easily move up a handful of positions before it’s all said and done. The #38 Ford had the 11th-best ten-lap average in Happy Hour this weekend, which is actually pretty good for this team. Ragan ran 23rd in this race one year ago.
Fade That Pick!
The following drivers qualified too high and have little chance at getting dominator points, so I will have very little exposure (if any) on Sunday: Ryan Newman ($6,900), Daniel Suarez ($7,400), Ricky Stenhouse, Jr, ($7,200), Kurt Busch ($8,200), Kasey Kahne ($6,200), Paul Menard ($6,800), and Michael McDowell ($5,700).
Unless you decide to fade Martin Truex, Jr. ($10,400), it’s going to be extremely difficult to fit both Kevin Harvick ($10,100) and Kyle Busch ($9,700) in your lineup. However, that is something to consider, as I have Harvick and Rowdy projected as the two dominators for this year’s QuikTrip Folds of Honor 500 (see chart at the bottom of this page). Of course, if you’re debating between Harvick and Kyle Busch, there is a case to be made of both. The good news with Kyle Busch is that he’s $400 cheaper in salary and he has the #1 pit stall for the race, which could easily pay major dividends during green flag stops. And looking at fastest laps and laps led on 1.5-mile tracks last season, Rowdy has 3rd-best behind Truex and Harvick. However, over the last four years here at Atlanta, Busch has posted just 17 total fastest laps, so that’s a bit concerning. If I had to choose between the two, I’d roll the dice with Harvick and fade Kyle Busch.
Driver Point Projections for Atlanta
The following chart takes into account the very basics: the starting position and the projected finish of each driver. The projected finishes are averaged from five different ranking systems, using both mathematical equations as well as personal rankings. This chart also includes the average projected base + laps led DraftKings FPTS as well as the dollar per FPT. I don’t try to project fastest laps–that’s up to you. You can click the headers below to sort the chart by that attribute. By default it is sorted by average projected FPTS.
|Driver||DraftKings Salary||Avg Proj Base + Laps Led FPTS||Starting Position||Avg. Projected Finish||Proj Laps Led||Dollar Per FPT|
|Martin Truex Jr||$10,400||77.7||35||03.4||17||$141|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||$7,200||25.1||6||12.6||1||$243|
|Darrell Wallace Jr||$6,300||22.6||19||20.2||0||$291|