Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway begins a new era for big league stock car racing. A radically different rules package that will reduce horsepower, slow speeds and in theory keep the cars closer together on the track makes its debut.
For those who enjoy NASCAR betting, here are 6 drivers to consider in the Folds of Honor/QuikTrip 500.
A year ago Harvick obliterated the field and turned the race into a literal Sunday drive. He led 181 laps on his to what would be an eight-victory season. In the last eight Atlanta races, Harvick has been the leader for more than 1,100 laps.
He has only finished outside the top-10 once in the last eight Atlanta races and has three top-five performances during that span. Bet Kevin Harvick to win at +450 and +130 to finish 1st-3rd with 888Sport in New Jersey.
The outspoken Busch has been critical of the new rules package and a style of racing he believes drastically takes driver skill out of the equation. Ironically Busch is considered a strong favorite to win in Atlanta as the new package makes its debut.
Busch has a 2013 Cup win at the track to go along with his many triumphs in both NASCAR’s Xfinity Series and Truck Series. He has five top-10 finishes in nine of his latest Atlanta starts and was most recently third in 2016.
Bet Kyle Busch to win at +550 and +150 inside the top three with SugarHouse in New Jersey.
The defending series champion is still looking for his first Atlanta win but his body of work at the track and more importantly on 1.5-mile layouts makes him a someone to consider Sunday.
Logano has finished sixth two straight years at Atlanta. He’s in the Ford camp and the manufacturer has won the last two Atlanta races with many believing the new Mustang body style might have a bit of an advantage aerodynamically over the Chevrolet and Toyota stable.
Bet Joey Logano to win at +650 and +175 to finish 1st-3rd with Resorts in New Jersey.
A teammate of Logano with Team Penske, Keselowski was victorious in Atlanta two years ago and came home runner-up behind Harvick last season. He comes into Sunday’s with four consecutive Atlanta top-10 performances.Brad Keselowski to win at +800 and +225 to finish 1st-3rd with 888Sport.
When it comes to worn out tracks, Larson gets a lot of attention because of his extensive dirt track experience before coming to NASCAR.
Larson excels in such conditions and nearly won at Atlanta two years ago finishing second to Keselowski. He has finished in the top-10 in three of the last five Atlanta events. Bet Kyle Larson to win at +850 and +250 to finish 1st-3rd with SugarHouse.
Your best longshot bet: The driver with the best Atlanta average finish over the last 10 races in Kurt Busch at 6.7. A trip to Victory Lane is included in that number with only two finishes outside the first 10 to his credit.
Busch was 4th, 7th and 8th the last three times out at the track and will be making his first start there as a member of his new team Chip Ganassi racing and a teammate to Larson. Bet Kurt Busch to win at +2000 and +500 to finish in top three with Resorts.
Last week’s season-opening Daytona 500 did not implement the changes, which will be used on the bulk of the remaining tracks on the schedule. After an off-season of discussion, preparation and testing Sunday’s race at Atlanta will be the first true display of the package.
There are a number of questions of how the modifications will change the competition and what drivers/teams will adapt to it best.
One school of thought believes there will be little or no impact to the stars behind the wheel or their powerhouse race organizations.
But others believe there could be at least an early leveling of the playing field that allows those not usually among the frontrunners to make up some ground.
So handicapping the annual visit to Atlanta this time around brings a certain set of challenges. What hasn’t changed in the length of the track, one of the many 1.5-mile ovals that dot the schedule.
Atlanta has one of the most worn out surfaces in NASCAR, something drivers embrace as an opportunity to slide around and find multiple options.
Tire management and fuel mileage/strategy will most likely be amplified because of those conditions, so a combination of drivers with good stats at 1.5-mile speedways combined with creative crew chiefs are key criteria to use when picking favorites for the race.
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