NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Atlanta

Drivers with Most Top 10s:
By Race (From 2015 to 2018)
All with 4:  Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr.
All with 3:  Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott and Joey Logano
All with 2:  Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson

By Track (From 2011 to 2018)
Kevin Harvick - 7
Both with 6: Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski
Kurt Busch - 5
All with 4: Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano

Last Year's Race Winner: Kevin Harvick

Recent Pole Winners:
2018 Kyle Busch
2017 Kevin Harvick

The Likely Suspects: For many fantasy NASCAR players, Atlanta is really the beginning of the racing season. The Daytona 500 sure didn't disappoint, but it isn't usually an indicator of what we can expect from drivers for the rest of the season. That is especially true this year as drivers get to race with the new rules package. Since it's a bit of the unknown right now, I am focusing on my reliable, tried and true Atlanta go-to drivers: Kevin Harvick, Kyle and Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott.

My 2 Cents: If you are skilled (or lucky) to have chosen the driver starting fifth on the grid, pick 'em in your final selection. My no-brainer pick this week is Kevin Harvick. My next picks are Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, Erik Jones, Clint Bowyer and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.. I'll complete my team with Ty Dillon and Chris Buescher. Quick tip: think fifth-place car. The fifth starting position is the most proficient starting position at Atlanta.

Second-Look Driver: Last week's second-look driver Michael McDowell had a stellar, yet controversial Daytona 500 race. The No. 34 car ironically started in the 34th position on the grid and finished fifth, one spot behind Cup series champion Joey Logano. After the race, Logano argued with McDowell on pit road about the fellow Ford driver opting to work with Kyle Busch's No. 18 Toyota team in the closing laps instead of Logano's No. 22.

This week's second-look driver is William Byron. Although the Las Vegas odds are 50-1 for Byron to win, he still has strong potential to race well this weekend. This will be Byron's first Cup start in Atlanta, but his performance was competitive in his inaugural starts in both the NASCAR Xfinity Series last year and in the Truck Series in 2016. In fact, Byron was the third-highest finishing Xfinity regular last year, finishing seventh. Of course it also doesn't hurt that the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 team has visited Victory Lane five times with driver Jeff Gordon.

My Final Four: Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer and Ty Dillon

Points to Ponder:
  • The most proficient starting position in the field at Atlanta Motor Speedway is fifth. It has produced more wins (16) than any other starting spot.
  • The Hendrick Motorsports organization has the most wins at Atlanta in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with 14, followed by Wood Brothers Racing with 12 and Joe Gibbs Racing with 11.
  • Jimmie Johnson leads all six active series winners at Atlanta with five victories, followed by Kurt Busch (3), Kyle Busch (2), Kevin Harvick (2), Denny Hamlin (1) and Brad Keselowski (1). Johnson also leads all active drivers in top-five finishes at Atlanta with 14.   
  • Ryan Newman holds the record for most consecutive poles at Atlanta with six, from the spring of 2003 through 2005.
  • Chase Elliott leads all active drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in average finishing position at Atlanta with a 7.667 in three starts.
If you're playing Driver Group Game, remember to make your picks by Friday, Feb. 22nd at 8 a.m. ET, and your final picks by 2 p.m. ET on race day Sunday, Feb. 24th.

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

Carol D’Agostino wields fantasy-racing superpowers. Each week, Carol researches statistics and combs through her personal racing notes to provide fans with fantasy racing advice at NASCAR Fantasy Fusion, a column she has written for Skirts & Scuffs since October 2011. Carol also does race coverage for Skirts & Scuffs at Richmond Raceway, and occasionally at her home track, Dover International Speedway. This year she joins the NASCAR Expert Picks panel at
Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet When she isn’t crunching numbers, you’ll find Carol in business meetings or hammering out a news release or creating a marketing strategy at a small niche public relations firm she founded called Purple Cat.  

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Atlanta NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Atlanta Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Thursday, February 21, 2019 Rating: 5