Thursday, February 22, 2018

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: At Atlanta

By Carol D'Agostino

Atlanta Motor Speedway has a long history with NASCAR having hosted 110 Cup races since July 31, 1960, when Fireball Roberts won from the pole. It's experienced a variety of scheduling changes over the years. Up until 2010, there were two races per year, except in 1961, when there were three. This year marks the sixth season with only one event, and in recent years, it shifted from a fall race to a spring race.

For that reason I'll focus on driver averages from the past three races (all spring) and the past six races (three spring and three fall). This will equal out the seasonal shift, making the Atlanta elite rise to the top.

Top 10 Driver Averages

  1.          Kevin Harvick                 
  2.          Brad Keselowski               
  3.          Chase Elliott                 
  4.          Kurt Busch                    
  5.          Joey Logano                   
  6.          Jimmie Johnson                
  7.          Martin Truex, Jr.             
  8.          Kyle Busch                    
  9.          Ricky Stenhouse Jr.          
 10.         Kyle Larson                   

Top 10 Driver Averages

  1.           Kevin Harvick                
  2.           Joey Logano                  
  3.           Matt Kenseth                 
  4.           Jimmie Johnson              
  5.           Martin Truex, Jr.            
  6.           Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
  7.           Kurt Busch                   
  8.           Brad Keselowski              
  9.           Kasey Kahne                  
 10.          Kyle Busch                   

2017 Race Winner: Brad Keselowski

Recent Pole Winners:
2017 Kevin Harvick
2016 Kurt Busch

The Likely Suspects: We were treated to some spectacular racing last weekend and more than a few nerve-racking fantasy NASCAR moments. It will be nice to settle into what I hope will be a somewhat predictable fantasy picks week. These will be my go-to drivers this week at Atlanta: Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott.

My 2 Cents: My no-brainer pick this week is Kevin Harvick. My next picks are Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, Erik Jones and Kasey Kahne. I'll complete my team with Darrell (Bubba) Wallace Jr. and Chris Buescher. Remember when you finalize your starters, if you picked the fifth-place car in the line up, start him, as that is the most proficient starting position at Atlanta.

Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is Trevor Bayne. Bayne has an average starting position of 19.8 and an average finishing position of 17.2 in five starts at Atlanta. In last year's race he finished in 12th place. Kudos to last week's second look driver A.J. Allmendinger, who finished in a respectable 10th place and even led a lap.

My Final Four: Kevin Harvick, Erik Jones, Chase Elliott and Bubba Wallace

Points to Ponder:
  • The most proficient starting position in the field at Atlanta Motor Speedway is fifth, with 16 wins.  
  • Nine different manufacturers have won in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Atlanta; led by Chevrolet with 40 victories; followed by Ford (30), Pontiac (11), Dodge (nine), Mercury (eight), Buick (four), Plymouth (four), Toyota (three) and Oldsmobile (one).
  • The Hendrick Motorsports organization has the most wins at Atlanta in the MENCS with 14; followed by Wood Brothers Racing with 12 and Joe Gibbs Racing with 11.
  • Richard Petty leads the series in top-10 finishes at Atlanta with 33; Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers with 16, followed by Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch with 12 each.
  • Jimmie Johnson leads all seven active series winners with five victories at Atlanta; followed by Kasey Kahne (3), Kurt Busch (3), Kyle Busch (2), Denny Hamlin (1), Kevin Harvick (1) and Brad Keselowski (1).  
  • Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the MENCS in average finishing position at 11.000 in 26 starts.
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your picks by 2:30 a.m. ET on Friday, February 23rd, and pick your starters by 2 p.m. ET on race day Sunday, February 25, 2018.

Stay tuned to Skirts and Scuffs all weekend for race weekend photography coverage courtesy of one of our many awesome photographers, Charlotte Bray.

If you haven't seen our Daytona photos yet, our Debbie Ross was there last weekend. Check out her shots on our Skirts and Scuffs Facebook page.

Enjoy the race! Post your comments here or follow me on Twitter at @purplecatpr.


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