After last week’s Pheonix race we finally hit that wall that I think was inevitable for everyone in terms of exciting racing. Martin Truex Jr. took the checkered flag after a race that lacked the same level of energy that the previous four had shown. This week we head to Atlanta where the potential for that excitement to catch back up before the Bristol Dirt race is very high.
This track has no shortage of great finishes and while the racing can be stale at times, it’s about a 50/50 toss-up in terms of excitement. I’m going to hold out hope that we get the same level we’ve seen from the races prior to Pheonix. I have higher hopes heading into Atlanta this week than I ever have for Pheonix.
Favorite: Chase Elliott
Georgia’s favorite and fastest son has had a quiet year so far, but still running up front consistently. The 9-car has had speed at every track we’ve gone to, but he just hasn’t been able to get it upfront yet. Going to Atlanta where he always runs well at will probably be the difference.
Atlanta is a home track for Elliott, but it’s one he’s yet to win at despite him averaging a 10th place finish here in five races. I think that with the speed Hendrick Motorsports has shown at Homestead and Vegas this will make for another successful outing for the team, and while I could see Larson being in victory lane over Chase, I’m gonna go with the kid from Dawsonville.
Dark Horse: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
For anyone who hasn’t noticed, Stenhouse is currently sitting 16th in the points standings and averaging a 14th place finish on the season. He’s so far on pace to have the best season of his career, and with him running well at Homestead and Las Vegas I think this could be another successful day for him.
In his career at Atlanta, he averages a 17.8 finish and finished 13th last season here. While it still feels weird to think about Stenhouse driving himself up to the lead, I think we’ve never seen what he’s been able to do in a season like what he’s having now. Maybe he’s hit his prime or JTGDR has taken a jump, but I’m curious to see what he can do this year.
- Chase Elliott: $9,800
- Kyle Larson: $10,400
- Martin Truex Jr.: $9,600
- Kevin Harvick: $11,000
- Kyle Busch: $10,700
- Kurt Busch: $8,300
- Christopher Bell: $7,800
- Aric Almirola: $8,000
- Tyler Reddick: $8,400
- Erik Jones: $7,000
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: $6,300
- Chris Buescher: $6,000
- Ryan Preece: $5,800
- Michael McDowell: $6,100
- Chase Briscoe: $6,800
Chase Elliott is worth the price of getting him into your lineup and possibly matching him up with his teammate Kyle Larson. Kevin Harvick is the most expensive driver this week for good reason since he’s currently on a 6 race streak of top-ten finishes. I think Harvick is a good play, but keep in mind that he has been having an off-year so far.
After you get out of the guy’s in the higher price ranges, there’s not a lot of guys who really fly off the page to you. Kurt Busch and Christopher Bell are really intriguing for their price ranges but come with their own set of risks. Tyler Reddick is a guy I considered for my dark horse pick because he ran well here last season and has looked good at Homestead and Vegas, so try to put him in a few line-ups.
I think that Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is a must-have in almost every line-up for reasons above and how cheap he will come to be able to save you some money. Outside of him though, it really is a toss-up because nobody else has numbers that are telling at this track, and without practice or qualifying, we can’t gauge anyone.