NASCAR Preview – Atlanta Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, Odds, TV
by Kent Whitaker Scores & Statson
Denny Hamlin won his second Daytona 500 last week as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series kicked off the 2019 season. The crash-filled contest saw the favored Ford drivers battling to make it to the front towards the end of the race. But in the end, it would be Hamlin and Kyle Busch grabbing the top-two spots for Joe Gibbs Racing. Despite two Toyotas finishing at the top, it’s a Ford Driver, Kevin Harvick, who’s picked to win the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The Atlanta race signals a dramatic shift in racing. First, Atlanta is known for it’s worn out track surface. Plans to resurface the track were scratched after so many drivers complained that it would destroy one of the few “driver favorite” venues. Apparently, NASCAR drivers love the highspeed, high-banked, bumpy, and slick style of racing Atlanta offers.
The other change is that the superspeedway cars, with special set-up packages used at Daytona, are now set aside and the cars used on the majority of the tracks in NASCAR are rolled off the haulers. Many in the industry consider Atlanta to be the real start of the season as superspeedway racing can be unpredictable and the cars are so different in downforce. Now the 2019 rules package takes over with changes in splitters, higher spoilers, the removal of the driver controlled trackbar, and other tweaks.
The goal is to provide better racing for fans while eliminating long single file runs. Apparently, oddsmakers think Harvick can adjust to the new 2019 rules package in time for another win in the ATL. Right behind him is Kyle Busch and Joey Logano. Here are the favored drivers through 8/1.
Kevin Harvick, Ford
Kyle Busch, Toyota
Joey Logano, Ford
Kyle Larson, Chey
Brad Keselowski, Ford
Martin Truex Jr., Toyota
Harvick’s Numbers at Atlanta
Over the last five races at Atlanta, Kevin Harvick has dominated. He’s led over 100 laps in all five races and led over 150 laps in three of the last five while logging 292 laps at the front in 2017. That year he ran out of gas for a heart-breaking ending finishing ninth. But he returned last season to take home the checkered at Atlanta for the second time in his career.
• Atlanta starts: 28 • Laps Completed: 8892 of 9065 laps completed (98.1%) • Laps Led: 1152 • Wins: 2 • Top 5: 7 • Top 10: 13
Harvick’s first win came during his first visit to the track as a Cup Series driver back in 2001. His new-found success at Atlanta started with his move to Stewart – Haas Racing five years ago.
Busch is coming off a second place finish at the Daytona 500 but he’s also coming off a strong Daytona Speedweeks. Add in his success at Atlanta and it’s easy to see why he’s one of the favorites heading into Sunday’s race. Busch has two wins at the track and started on the pole for last year’s race. The amazing stat is that he has started inside the top-ten nine of the last ten races including in 2013 when he won his second Atlanta race.
Any Hometown Love for Chase Elliott?
Atlanta is the hometown track for Chase Elliott who was born just north of the city in Dawsonville, Georgia. His famous dad, Bill Elliott, is nicknamed “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville” so you know regional fans are waiting for the younger Elliott to make his mark in his home state.
Oddsmakers are showing some love towards the hometown driver as he’s next in line with 10/1 odds. Perhaps they are combining some limited data from his short history at Atlanta with his strong runs so far in his Cup Serie career. After all, he accounted for three of the four Chevrolet wins last season.
Elliott only has three Cup Series starts at the track so it’s a bit hard to judge. But, in those three starts, there are some numbers to look over. First, he’s completed every lap of all three races. Secondly, he’s finished in the top ten for all three Cup Series races. The best stat for Elliott is starting and finish positions. Elliott’s average start is 20.7 but he works his way through the field for a 7.7 average finish.
Odds for Winning Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Schedule for Folds of Honor 500 weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway
Three of the Four top-series in NASCAR will be racing in Atlanta this weekend. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, The NASCAR Xfinity Series, and the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck series will take to the worn out pavement of Atlanta. The ARCA Menards Racing Series is off this weekend.
Friday, February 22
• Monster Energy Cup Series Practice: 11:35 a.m.-12:55 p.m. • Xfinity Series Practice: 1:05 p.m.-1:55 p.m. • Gander Outdoors Truck Series Practice: 2:05 p.m.-2:55 p.m. • Xfinity Series Final Practice: 3:05 p.m.-3:55 p.m. (FS1) • Gander Outdoors Truck Series Final Practice: 4:05 p.m.-4:50 p.m. (FS1) • Monster Energy Cup Series Qualifying: 5:00 p.m. (PRN/FS1)
Saturday, February 23
• Xfinity Series Qualifying: 9:35 a.m. (FS1) • Gander Outdoors Truck Series Qualifying: 10:40 a.m. (FS1) • Monster Energy Cup Series Final Practice: 12:00 p.m.-1:20 p.m. (FS1) • Radio Pre-Race: 1:30 p.m. (PRN) • TV Pre-Race: 1:30 p.m. (FS1) • Xfinity Series Rinnai 250: 2:00 p.m. (PRN/FS1) • Radio Pre-Race: 4:00 p.m. (MRN) • Gander Outdoors Truck Series Atlanta 200: 4:30 p.m. (MRN/FS1)
Sunday, February 24
• Radio Pre-Race: 1:00 (PRN) • Monster Energy Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500: 2:00 p.m. (PRN/FOX)