NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway

Our last stop on the West Coast swing sure made for some record-breaking moments. Race winner Chase Briscoe got his first Cup Series win in his 40th Cup race, and became the 200th winner in the NASCAR Cup Series. While Kevin Harvick's No. 4 car wasn't the one sitting in Victory Lane at the race's end, Kevin did make some history of his own. His sixth-place finish tied a record for 18 consecutive Top 10 finishes at one track, the record set by Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt at North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway.
This Week's Pick Strategy:  
This will be our first race at the newly paved Atlanta Motor Speedway with the Next Gen car. They added a little more banking in the turns, but I think we can still expect it to have some character and roughness. For me that means picking mostly veterans drivers with an eye on a couple key Ford drivers. Fords have been running well this season and they've traditionally been especially fast at Atlanta.
Drivers with Most Top 10s:
By Race and Track (From 2017 to 2021)
Martin Truex Jr. - 6
All with 5: Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, and Kurt Busch
Chase Elliott- 4

Top 15 Average Finishes at Atlanta Since 2019
Kyle Busch 3 0 0 2 3 9.7 4.3 44.3
Martin Truex Jr 3 0 0 2 3 7.3 4.7 45
Kevin Harvick 3 0 1 2 3 11.3 5 43.3
Denny Hamlin 3 1 0 2 2 5 6.7 40.7
Kyle Larson 2 0 0 1 1 6.5 7 49.5
Ryan Blaney 3 0 1 2 2 14.3 9 42.3
Alex Bowman 3 0 0 1 1 12.7 10 31.3
Brad Keselowski 3 0 1 1 2 9.7 12.7 26.7
Austin Dillon 3 0 0 0 1 13 12.7 25.7
Chris Buescher 3 0 0 0 2 20 12.7 26
Ricky Stenhouse Jr 3 0 0 0 0 12 14.3 24.7
Aric Almirola 3 1 0 0 1 6.3 15 24.7
David Ragan 1 0 0 0 0 23 16 21
Joey Logano 3 0 0 0 1 11 16 24
Kurt Busch 3 0 0 1 2 10.3 16 28

Top 10 in Average Finishing Position at Atlanta 
(All-Time and Active)
Recent Pole Winners:
2021 Denny Hamlin (Set by metric qualifying)
2020 Chase Elliott
2019 Aric Almirola
Last Year's Race Winner: Ryan Blaney

The Likely Suspects: My Atlanta elites drivers include the Busch Brothers, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, and Kyle Larson.

My 2 Cents: Hate to say it, but I'm benching Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, and even Denny Hamlin for a bit until I see anything resembling consistency. Atlanta isn't Denny's best track, so I don't feel too bad. I'd love to put Kevin and Brad on my roster, but I won't. My no-brainer pick this week is Ryan Blaney. My next picks are Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Chris Buescher, Aric Almirola, and Tyler Reddick. I will complete my roster with Daniel Suarez and David Ragan.

Second-Look Driver: This week's sleeper pick is RFK Racing driver Chris Buescher. Chris is coming off a 10th-place finish at Phoenix. Although he only has one Top 10 and an average finish of 17.2 in the last six races here, it is one of his better tracks. Back in January, Chris was one of the drivers who participated in the tire test at Atlanta, and I don't think it will be much longer until this 2015 Xfinity Series champion earns his second NASCAR Cup win.

My Final Four: Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Chris Buescher, and Daniel Suarez.

Points to Ponder:
  • Wood Brothers Racing and Team Penske lead the series in poles at Atlanta with nine each.
  • A total of nine different manufacturers have won a NASCAR Cup Series pole at Atlanta Motor Speedway, led by Ford with 30 poles followed by Chevrolet  with 25.
  • Six of the 45 Atlanta Motor Speedway Cup Series winners are active this weekend: Kurt Busch with four wins, Kevin Harvick with three wins, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch with two wins each, and Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin with one win each.
  • The most prolific starting position in the field is the fifth starting position – it has produced more wins (16) than any other starting position. 
  • Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Kyle Larson lead all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers with two runner-up finishes each at Atlanta.
  • Kevin Harvick leads all active Cup Series drivers in Top-5s finishes at Atlanta with nine. Harvick is tied with Kurt Busch for Top 10s with 16.  
  • Kevin Harvick leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in laps led at Atlanta with 1,197 in 29 starts.
  • The Hendrick Motorsports organization has the most wins at Atlanta in the NASCAR Cup Series with 14 victories, followed by Wood Brothers Racing with 12, and Joe Gibbs Racing with 11.
  • Nine different manufacturers have won in the NASCAR Cup Series at Atlanta, led by Chevrolet with 41 victories and followed by Ford with 34.
  • Ryan Blaney leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series in average finishing position at Atlanta Motor Speedway with a 12.429 in seven starts.
If you're playing Driver Group Game, remember to make your initial picks by 8 a.m. ET on Saturday, March 19th and your final picks by 3 p.m. ET on race day Sunday, March 20th. 

Enjoy the race!
Carol D'Agostino has been playing Fantasy NASCAR for 16 years. She launched  NASCAR Fantasy Fusion for Skirts & Scuffs in October 2011. Each week, Carol pores through statistics and combs through her personal notebooks to arm fans with analysis and picking strategies that will leave their friends wondering how they got so smart. Carol also does race coverage for Skirts & Scuffs at Richmond Raceway and occasionally at her home track, Dover International Speedway. She is also part of the distinguished NASCAR Expert Picks panel at formerly called Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet.

When she isn’t wielding her fantasy-racing superpowers, you’ll find Carol hammering out a news release or creating a marketing strategy at a small niche public relations firm she founded called Purple Cat or executing downtown revitalization projects for a small town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Thursday, March 17, 2022 Rating: 5