NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Quaker State 400 at Atlanta

Wow. What a feel-good finish at Road America! So who had Tyler Reddick at the sleeper pick? Oh yeah, that was me. Tyler's win makes him the fifth first-time winner and the 13th different winner this season, tying the 2002 season for second-most winners through 18 races in the Modern Era (1972-2022) The win was the two-time Xfinity champion's fifth Top 5 this season. For the Richard Childress Racing camp, the victory broke the 71-race winless streak. It was also the first Cup Series victory for Tyler's crew chief, Randall Burnett.
As we pull into Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend, the race teams finally have a notebook to refer to from March's record-making race. Chief among the records set were: number of leaders (20 different drivers), lead changes (46), green flag passes for the lead (141), and total green flag passes throughout the field (6,439). It's July, though, so the only thing we really know is that it will be hot in Atlanta.  Let's hope the racing matches the heat.

This Week's Pick Strategy:
Atlanta is a thinking driver's track. Racers who have the knack for reading a track and searching out preferred lines during a race tend to do well here. Included in this elite category are racers like Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, the Busch brothers, Kyle Larson, and Brad Keselowski. Also place emphasis on drivers in the Hendrick, Wood Brothers and JGR camps.  
Drivers with Most Top 10s  in the Last 7 races at Atlanta
From 2017 to 2022
Martin Truex Jr. - 7
Kurt Busch - 6
All with 5: Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, and Chase Elliott.
Top 12 Active Driver Averages at Atlanta since February 2019

Last Year's Pole Winner:
Chase Elliott (Set by Metric Qualifying)
Last Year's Race Winner: Kurt Busch
The Likely Suspects: Atlanta elites include Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, and Brad Keselowski.
My 2 Cents:  There are several notable drivers who haven't won this year who also happen to be pretty good at Atlanta, which should make for some great racing. Among them Ryan Blaney sits the most comfortably with 112 points up on the Playoff cutoff, followed by 2017 series champion and JGR's driver Martin Truex Jr., at 61 points from the cutline. Blaney is a former Atlanta winner taking the checkered flag in March of 2021.

My no-brainer pick this week is Kyle Busch. My next picks are Ryan Blaney, Kurt Busch, Alex Bowman, William Byron, and Christopher Bell. I will round out my roster with Cole Custer and Harrison Burton.

My Final Four: Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch and Cole Custer.

Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is Kevin Harvick. Atlanta is a great track for Kevin with three wins, nine Top 5s, 16 Top 10s, and two poles. He has also led the most laps among active Cup drivers with 1,359 in 33 starts. Kevin has added incentive as Tyler Reddick's win last week leaves him 20 points back from Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell in the 16th and final transfer spot on points.

Points to Ponder:
  • The most prolific starting position in the field at Atlanta Motor Speedway is fifth – it has produced more wins (16) than any other starting position.
  •  The Hendrick Motorsports organization has the most wins at Atlanta in the NASCAR Cup Series with 15 victories, followed by The Wood Brothers with 12; and Joe Gibbs Racing with 11. 
  • Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson lead all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers with two runner-up finishes at Atlanta Motor Speedway each. 
  • Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch lead all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in Top 5 finishes at Atlanta with nine each.
  • Kurt Busch leads all active drivers in Top 10s with 17. 
  • Kevin Harvick also leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in laps led at Atlanta with He also leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in laps led at Atlanta with 1,359 in 33 starts.
  • 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. 
  • Seven former Atlanta winners are active this weekend: Kurt Busch with four vistories, Kevin Harvick with three., Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch with two each. William Byron, Ryan Blaney, and Denny Hamlin each have one win.
If you're playing Driver Group Game, remember to make your initial picks by 8 a.m. ET on Saturday, July 9th and your final picks by 3 p.m. ET on race day Sunday, July 10th.
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: Quaker State 400 at Atlanta NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Quaker State 400 at Atlanta Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Friday, July 08, 2022 Rating: 5