NASCAR’s 2017 Monster Energy Cup Series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the running of the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. Sunday’s race at one of the series’ fastest tracks is set to start at 2:30 p.m. (ET) and will be broadcast nationally on FOX.
Kurt Busch survived a wreck-filled season opener last Sunday to win his first career Daytona 500 by taking the lead on the final lap of the race -- the only lap he led all day. Ryan Blaney finished second in "The Great American Race" and AJ Allmendinger took third to pay some deep dividends as longshots in a Top 3 finish bet.
Now let's break down Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta based on betting odds as provided by Pinnacle.
Top Valued Favorite
It is no big surprise that Jimmy Johnson has been opened as a +500 favorite to take home the checkered flag in Atlanta. The 2016 Cup series champion had a forgettable run last Sunday at Daytona as a casualty of one of the many wrecks that devastated the field. However, looking back at last season the No. 48 car ended its title run with three victories in the final seven races on the schedule. The main reason that Johnson is my top-valued favorite for Sunday's race is the way he started last year with a win at this track. He has actually won this event the last two seasons to lower his average finishing position at Atlanta to a respectable 10.7.
Top Valued Contender
Dale Earnhardt Jr. missed the entire second half of last season while recovering from the side effects of a concussion. He made his much anticipated return to the track as one of the top favorites to win at Daytona, but the No. 88 Chevrolet's day was cut short in a wreck while leading that race. His odds to quickly turn things around with a victory this Sunday have been set at +1200, and I believe there is quite a bit of value in that number. Junior finished second to Johnson last season at Atlanta after taking the third spot in the final running order in this race back in 2015. This could very well be the year that he takes that final step all the way to Victory Lane.
Top Valued Long Shot
Moving down the list at Pinnacle, I have zeroed in on last week's winner Kurt Busch at +2000 betting odds as my top-valued long shot this week. His chances to win two races in a row may not be that high, but how big where his chances to win the Daytona 500 without ever leading one full lap? Driving the No. 41 Ford, he did a masterful job of keeping his car on the track and in contention while most of the other top drivers saw their day come to an early end. This is the kind of momentum that could carry over to Atlanta. As far as Busch's recent performance at this track , he started from the pole in 2016 and finished fourth. He has now placed sixth or better in seven of his last 10 races here, including victories in 2009 and 2010.
Odds For Other Notable Drivers
Both Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick made early exits last week at Daytona so they will be looking to bounce back this week as +600 second-favorites to get an early season victory. Brad Keselowski was one of the top favorites to win at Daytona and his odds to win this week are third-best on the board +800 along with Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr.