1. #1
    Hman
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    Best bets for Sunday's NASCAR race at Atlanta Motor Speedway 🏁

    Best bets for Sunday's NASCAR race at Atlanta Motor Speedway

    ESPN PLUS ($ MATERIAL)

    The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Atlanta on Sunday for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.


    Brad Keselowski took his second checkered flag of the season last Sunday in Bristol, Tennessee, when the leaders crashed in front of him with a lap to go. Who will win Sunday's event (3 p.m. ET) at Atlanta Motor Speedway?


    ESPN.com NASCAR senior writer Ryan McGee, Fantasy's Mike Clay, Stats & Information's Matthew Willis and editor Scott Symmes offer their best bets for the race.


    Note: Odds from Caesars Sportsbook as of Friday unless otherwise noted.

    Best bets

    Martin Truex Jr. (8-1)

    Symmes: Atlanta isn't considered a "major" on the NASCAR schedule, but it's a biggie for Truex. The 2017 Cup champion, who has had many potential Atlanta wins slip through his fingers over the years, has said many times how much he wants to cross this track off his victory wish list. Truex is still winless in 2020 (and surprisingly lacks a top-5 finish), so expect him to be hungry on Sunday -- and fast. Truex was runner-up in this race a year ago, his second straight Atlanta top-5 and fifth straight top-10. His average finish over the past eight Atlanta races is 7.25.


    Clay: Truex enters Sunday with the fifth-quickest car-per-loop data since NASCAR returned from hiatus. He'll probably continue that trend at Atlanta, where he ranked among the best in nearly every category last season. He secured a runner-up finish with the fastest overall car and an average running position of fourth. He was also quickest on restarts and short runs, and trailed only Kevin Harvick on long runs. Truex achieved all of this in dirty air, leading only one lap under green. If he finds the front this weekend, there's a decent shot he'll dominate with a clean-air advantage. Truex currently has the best car in the Joe Gibbs Racing stable, and his 2019 performance makes him the obvious choice among the favorites.


    Kevin Harvick (5-1)

    Symmes: Keselowski is on a roll and has an average finish of 1.3 over the past three Atlanta races, but no one has been as dominant as Harvick. The 2014 winner has led 960 laps over the past six Atlanta races, by far the most of any driver. Something else that bodes well for Harvick: he excelled (finishes of first and third) during the Cup Series' recent stop at Darlington, which has an abrasive surface similar to Atlanta's.


    Chase Elliott (6-1)

    Willis: Sure, accuse me of just taking the hot hand, but I'm going to take one of Georgia's favorite sons in Atlanta. But that isn't the only reason I'm backing Elliott. The Cup Series has run three races on 1.5-mile tracks this season, Elliott led 70 laps before finishing 26th at Las Vegas and then put up a second and a first in the pair of Charlotte races. He has been the fastest driver on 115 laps in those three races this season, 17 more than any other driver.


    McGee: With any luck, Elliott could have won every Cup race that has been run since NASCAR's hiatus. He won a Cup race and a trucks race at Charlotte. Heck, he won the pole for Sunday's race via random draw! So, yes, even with the wrecks and middle fingers and stern talking-to's from Joey Logano, I think it's safe to say that Elliott is on a roll. Oh, and he also has three top-10 finishes in his four Cup starts at Atlanta. Oh, and it's also his home state track. When his father won there in the '92 finale but lost the Cup title to Alan Kulwicki, they wept so hard they dang near rusted that grandstand. If Chase wins, there won't be any fans inside to do anything, but I bet they'll be lined up on GA Highway 9 to cheer him on his drive home to Dawsonville.
    Alex Bowman (7-1)

    Willis: Hendrick Motorsports has regained much of its form after a down season in 2019, and while Elliott has been getting the flashy finishes, his teammate Bowman has shown a lot of strength. Bowman won before the break at California, another oval track (although it is two miles, not 1.5 like Atlanta), and led 215 laps in the pair of Charlotte races before disappointing 19th and 31st finish that didn't nearly reflect how strongly he ran.
    Ryan Blaney (15-1)

    Willis: OK, Blaniacs, I'm going back to this well after some bad luck felled Blaney last Sunday at Bristol. After looking strong early, Blaney spun out and avoided hitting the wall, but Ty Dillon couldn't avoid hitting him and took off the front end of his car. His teammates, Logano and Keselowski, won two of the three races at 1.5-mile tracks in Las Vegas and Charlotte, but Blaney has had strong runs too, finishing third in each of the two Charlotte races two weeks ago.


    Clay: Blaney has the second-fastest car on 1.5-mile ovals this season, per racing analyst Kevin Matz. He topped the speed chart at Las Vegas and again during the midweek trip to Charlotte. Atlanta is a similarly shaped 1.5-miler that is infamous for its propensity to devour tires. Blaney seemed unfazed by tire wear in this race last season when he started 26th and ran fourth by the halfway point. In the final quarter of the race, he led for 41 laps before a pit road mishap removed him from contention with 50 to go. Despite the 22nd-place result, he finished with the fourth-quickest car. Blaney has longer odds than I'd expect for a driver with a legitimate shot to dominate.

    Long shots

    Ryan Preece (500-1)/Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (100-1)

    Symmes: Not known for having a stellar program on 1.5-mile tracks, JTG-Daugherty Racing showed a lot of speed at Atlanta in 2019. Preece, in what was only his seventh career Cup start, was a surprise contender. He was flirting with a top-5 finish when a momentary lapse in concentration resulted in a crash on pit road, ending his day. His teammate at the time, Chris Buescher, managed a ninth-place finish. (Stenhouse drives the other JTG-Daugherty entry this season.) Sure, that race was 15 months ago, but the aero package for 1.5-mile tracks hasn't changed. Did JTG-Daugherty hit on a setup last year for what is probably the most unique 1.5-miler (23 years since last repave) on the schedule? It will be interesting to see if Preece and Stenhouse can make some noise on Sunday.


    Christopher Bell (150-1)

    Willis: Bell's rookie season isn't off to an amazing start, but let's have faith in a driver who won 15 times in the second-tier Xfinity Series over the 2018-19 seasons. Where did one of those wins come? I'll let you guess. That's right, Bell was a winner the last time he visited Atlanta, leading a solid 142 of 163 laps. Given his ties to Joe Gibbs Racing, Bell has to be considered a threat to break out at any time, despite his rookie status.

  2. #2
    Optional
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    Nice info about JTG-Daugherty guys


    Blaney my #1 pick for race win. Harvick the biggest danger.

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  3. #3
    jjgold
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    Rarely long shots win motor sports

  4. #4
    RudyRuetigger
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    thanks for the info, esp since i started betting nascar

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