NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Atlanta

Okay. I have to admit I feel really bad for Atlanta Motor Speedway coming on the heels of the Chicago Street Race. The racing here has really been great since the track's most recent reconfiguration in the offseason prior to 2022, but seriously, who can forget last week's excitement? Sometimes when an event is hyped so much for so long, it doesn't live up to expectations. Not so last Sunday when we actually got to see a driver from another racing discipline step into a stock car for the very first time and win! Pretty cool. We all spent this week actually learning to correctly pronounce Shane van Gisbergen's name. I even learned that his middle name is Robert. Just sayin.' 

As we pull into Atlanta, Chase Elliott's home track, we just might see just how badly drivers currently outside the postseason cutoff want to make it into the Playoffs. Keep your eyes on Daniel Suarez, Alex Bowman, Austin Cindric, Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon, and Chase Briscoe.

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 8 races at Atlanta
From 2018 to 2023
Both with 6 - Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch.
All with 5: Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, and Chase Elliott.
All with 4 - Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, and Joey Logano.

Last Year's Pole Winner:
 Qualifying was cancelled due to inclement weather. Starting order determined by NASCAR metrics with Chase Elliott starting P1.
Last Year's Race Winner: Chase Elliott
The Likely Suspects: Atlanta elites include Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, and Joey Logano.
My 2 Cents:  My no-brainer pick this week is a tie between Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick. My next picks are Ryan Blaney, Austin Cindric, Brad Keselowski, and Erik Jones. I will round out my roster with Corey LaJoie and Harrison Burton.

My Final Four: Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski, Austin Cindric and Corey LaJoie.

Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is Erik Jones. In his last two runs at Atlanta, he earned two Top 10s. He finished eighth here earlier in the season after advancing nine spots in the final lap and fourth in last year's race. Erik is sneaky good at superspeedways. This season, his three Top 10s have all come at superspeedways.  

Points to Ponder:
  • The most prolific starting positions in the field at Atlanta Motor Speedway are first and fifth – each position has produced more wins (16 each) than any other. Joey Logano is the most recent driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race from the pole at Atlanta (3/19/2023).
  •  The Hendrick Motorsports organization has the most wins at Atlanta in the NASCAR Cup Series with 16 victories, followed by The Wood Brothers with 12 and Joe Gibbs Racing with 11. 
  • Kevin Harvick (2001, 2018, 2020) leads all active NASCAR Cup Series winners at Atlanta Motor Speedway with three victories. 
  • Kevin Harvick (2009, 2015), Kyle Busch (2020, 2021) Kyle Larson (2017, 2021), Ross Chastain (2022, 2022), and Brad Keselowski (2018, 2023) lead all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in runner-up finishes at Atlanta Motor Speedway with two each.
  •  Kevin Harvick leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in Top 5 finishes at Atlanta with nine, Top 10s with 16, and laps led at Atlanta with 1,360 in 35 starts.
  •  Kevin Harvick (2014, 2017) and Joey Logano (2015, 2023) lead all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in Atlanta poles with two each.
  • Ryan Blaney leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series in average finishing position at Atlanta Motor Speedway with a 12.111 in nine starts.
If you're playing Driver Group Game, remember to make your initial picks by 5:05 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 8th and your final picks by 7 p.m. ET on race day Sunday, July 9th.
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: Atlanta NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Atlanta Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Friday, July 07, 2023 Rating: 5