NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Atlanta

Track repaved in 2022
Last week's race winner William Byron only led four laps in the 2024 DAYTONA 500, but they were the ones that mattered. It was William's 11th career win and first DAYTONA 500 win. Teammate Alex Bowman finished runner up, giving Hendrick Motorsports a 1-2 finish. 
The victory came 40 years to the day after Hendrick Motorsports made its debut in the NASCAR Cup Series in 1984. The win ties HMS with Petty Enterprises for the most victories by a team in "The Great American Race" with nine. Rick Hendrick's organization earned the distinction of bring the first team to win the crown jewel event in five different decades.  
This Week's Pick Strategy:  
I anticipate this weekend to be a great Chevy/Ford match up, but we definitely could see a Toyota racer like Martin Truex Jr. or Christopher Bell spoiling the party. I'm keeping a close eye on qualifying as first and fifth positions have reaped the most winners than any other position on the grid.
Drivers with Most Top 10s:
By Race and Track (From 2019 to 2023; includes 8 races)
Both with 6: Ryan Blaney and Kyle Busch
Both with 5: Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski
Both with 4 - Chase Elliott and Daniel Suarez
Active Drivers with Atlanta Race Wins

Top 6 Active Drivers with Best Average Finishes Since the Repave
Chase Elliott         6.7
Erik Jones             9.3
Brad Keselowski  9.5
Ryan Blaney         9.5
Daniel Suarez      10.3
Justin Haley         12.0

Last Year's Pole Winner: Joey Logano
Last Year's Race Winner: Joey Logano

The Likely Suspects: My Atlanta elite drivers include Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Daniel Suarez, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, and William Byron.

My 2 Cents: My no-brainer pick this week is a tie between Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano. My next picks are Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Daniel Suarez, and Erik Jones. I will complete my roster with Noah Gragson, and Justin Haley.

My Final Four: Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, Brad Keselowski, and Justin Haley.

Second-Look Driver: This week's sleeper pick is Noah Gragson, driving the No. 10 Black Rifle Coffee/Ranger Boats Ford Mustang. Noah got a great start to the 2024 by finishing ninth and leading five laps in the Daytona 500. Atlanta has been a decent track for Noah with all of his previous four starts coming on the updated configuration. He earned his best Atlanta finish in his third Atlanta start – 12th in March 2023. 
Noah also has six NASCAR Xfinity Series and two Craftsman Truck Seriesstarts at the track. He finished among the Top 10 in all but one of his Xfinity Series starts at Atlanta, and earned a second place finish in the Truck Series and led leading the first 43 laps in 2018. Noah and the whole team at Stewart-Haas Racing have a lot to prove this season, and Noah could be just the driver to get their first win on the board here in Atlanta.
Points to Ponder:
  • Team Penske leads the series in poles at Atlanta with 10, followed by the Wood Brothers win 9.
  • A total of nine different manufacturers have won a NASCAR Cup Series pole at Atlanta Motor Speedway, led by Ford with 32 poles followed by Chevrolet with 25.
  •  The most prolific starting positions in the field are first and fifth – both have produced more wins (16) than any other starting position.
  •  Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, and Ross Chastain lead all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers with two runner-up finishes each at Atlanta.
  • Kyle Busch leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in Top 5 finishes at Atlanta with nine. Kyle and Martin Truex Jr. lead all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers with 13 Top 10 finishes at Atlanta. 
  • Kyle Busch leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in laps led at Atlanta with 558 in 28 starts. 
  • The Hendrick Motorsports organization has the most wins at Atlanta in the NASCAR Cup Series with 17 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 44 victories and followed by Ford with 35.
  • Ryan Blaney leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series in average finishing position at Atlanta Motor Speedway with a 11.364 in 11 starts.
If you're playing Driver Group Game, remember to make your initial picks by 10:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, February 24th and your final picks by 3 p.m. ET on race day Sunday, February 25th. 

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, February 23, 2024 Rating: 5