NASCAR at Atlanta 2018: Odds, fantasy advice, prediction, sleepers, drivers to watch
After a crash-filled Daytona 500, NASCAR moves to Atlanta's weathered 1.54-mile asphalt track.
The track is favored by many NASCAR drivers as the surface allows for side-by-side racing in multiple grooves. Tires wear out very quickly on the oval, putting a higher importance on long-run speed.
Last year, Kevin Harvick won the first two stages at Atlanta, but a penalty allowed Brad Keselowski to swoop in for the checkered flag. Keselowski passed Kyle Larson for the lead with six laps to go for his first win of 2017.
All eyes will be on Georgia native Chase Elliott this weekend has he looks to capture his first Cup Series win at his hometown track. Back in the No. 9 car, a number made famous by his Hall of Fame father Bill, Chase does have a fair shot to win based on last season's numbers.
Elliott recorded two second-place finishes, seven top fives, and nine top-10s at 1.5-mile tracks in 2017. The Dawsonville, Ga., native also averaged the third-best average finish of Cup drivers (9.82) on 1.5-mile tracks last year.
Before Keselowski's win last year, Elliott's teammate Jimmie Johnson was victorious in two straight Atlanta races. Johnson, who owns a Cup Series record 28 wins on 1.5-mile tracks in his career, has five wins, 14 top fives along with a series-best driver rating of 105.4 at Atlanta.
While Johnson has been the old king of 1.5-mile tracks, our pick to win Sunday is reigning champion Martin Truex Jr., who has been nearly unbeatable at intermediate ovals.
Truex won seven of the 11 1.5-mile speedway races last season with nine top fives for an average finish of 2.5. He's still looking for his first win at Atlanta but we expect him to get the job done Sunday (if the rain holds off).
What are the betting odds for NASCAR at Atlanta?
Martin Truex Jr. 9/2
Kyle Larson 9/2
Kevin Harvick 9/2
Kyle Busch 6/1
Chase Elliott 8/1
Denny Hamlin 12/1
Brad Keselowski 12/1
Jimmie Johnson 12/1
Joey Logano 12/1
Erik Jones 20/1
Ryan Blaney 25/1
Clint Bowyer 30/1
Kurt Busch 30/1
Alex Bowman 30/1
Jamie McMurray 60/1
William Byron 60/1
Daniel Suarez 60/1
Aric Almirola 60/1
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 100/1
Austin Dillon 100/1
Ryan Newman 100/1
Paul Menard 200/1
Trevor Bayne 300/1
Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr. 300/1
Ty Dillon 300/1
Kasey Kahne 500/1
AJ Allmendinger 500/1
Chris Buescher 1000/1
Michael McDowell 5000/1
Field (all others) 500/1
Odds via Westgate.
Which drivers are best for fantasy NASCAR at Atlanta?
Kevin Harvick will be out to make amends for last season's costly penalty that cost him the race. Harvick has led 835 laps over the past six races at Atlanta and owns a nearly flawless driver rating of 132.9 over the past two.
Jamie McMurray's string of nine straight top-12 finishes at 1.5-mile tracks began with last season's race at Atlanta.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. said recently that Atlanta is one of his favorite tracks. He was running seventh ahead of the final restart in last season's race, but slight damage knocked him back to 13th.
Looking to save salary, consider Michael McDowell, Ty Dillon, and Paul Menard, who moves to faster equipment in the No. 21 Wood Brothers car.