If there’s one thing to remember when making your Fantasy NASCAR picks at Atlanta, it’s to not take things at face value. We have a 500-mile race to run on Sunday, and because of that, starting position doesn’t mean a whole lot. Additionally, Atlanta Motor Speedway is an old, worn-out racetrack, and one that really tests the skills of drivers when it comes to managing tires and being good over a long run, not just for a couple of laps. Because of that, we often see drivers make their way through the field during the race, and usually the cream rises to the top here. Kevin Harvick got the pole for Sunday’s QuikTrip Folds of Honor 500, and the full starting lineup can be found here. There was one post-qualifying practice session, and those results can be found here. Click here to read the notes for that practice.
Final Top 25 Ranking For Atlanta
1. Kevin Harvick – Starts 1st – DraftKings Price: $10,200 – Yahoo! A Group
**Risk Factor: Low Risk**
Any time Kevin Harvick and the #4 team “focus on comfort” during the final practice session of the weekend, you know he has a damn good race car. And when he’s on the pole in addition to that happening, that opens the door for domination on Sunday. Both of these are true this weekend. Harvick went out and put his #4 Ford on the pole for this year’s QuikTrip Folds of Honor 500 (his third top 2 start in the last four years) and will be looking for his first victory here at Atlanta Motor Speedway since making the jump to NASCAR’ top series following Dale Earnhardt, Sr.’s death back in 2001. When you look at the last five races here at Atlanta, nobody has been better than Harvick–and it’s not even close. Over that span, he has led 543 total laps (2nd-best is Joey Logano with 162) and had an average running position of 4.2. As far as speed goes this weekend, Harvick didn’t put a super fast lap down in Happy Hour, but that’s because he went out later in the session than everyone else. He was 19th in ten-lap average during that final session but made his long run later in the practice than anyone else (laps 46 through 55). Look for Harvick to lead 100+ laps once again on Sunday and have a legitimate shot to win–which would make it 2-for-2 for Stewart-Haas Racing to start off the year in their new Fords.
2. Brad Keselowski – Starts 5th – DraftKings Price: $10,000 – Yahoo! A Group
**Risk Factor: Low-to-Medium Risk**
During an interview with Jamie Little during Happy Hour on Saturday, Brad Keselowski said that this is probably the best car he has ever had here at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He ended that practice session with the 2nd-fastest overall lap and 7th-best ten-lap average. However, don’t automatically assume that he’s a definite threat to win the QuikTrip Folds of Honor 500 race on Sunday. Surprisingly enough, Keselowski hasn’t been great here at Atlanta over his career. In eight total starts, BK has posted four top 10 finishes and just one top 5. With that being said, Brad has back-to-back 9th-place finishes here over the last two years. Additionally, he did lead 31 laps (a career-high) during the 2013 race here before an engine failure ended Keselowski’s day. As far as this weekend, the Blue Deuce qualified 5th (Brad’s 2nd-best starting spot here) and should be a solid 4th-to-8th place car. Depending on how the race plays out will determine on how much better or worse the #2 Ford ends up after 500 miles.
3. Chase Elliott – Starts 11th – DraftKings Price: $9,300 – Yahoo! B Group
**Risk Factor: Medium Risk**
Last year was Chase’s first Cup start here at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and while he did qualify back in 24th, the 2016 Rookie of the Year performed much better than that during the actual race. After registering an average running position of 10th and a driver rating of 95.5, Elliott wound up finishing 8th, which is very impressive when you consider how tough this track is to handle. This year, the #24 Chevrolet will start from 11th when Sunday’s QuikTrip Folds of Honor 500 goes green, and it won’t be surprising if Chase challenges for at least a high top 10 finish, if not a top 5. In Happy Hour on Saturday, Elliott was fastest on the overall speed chart and wound up 9th when it came to ten-lap average. In 20-lap average, he was 2nd behind Jamie McMurray. This #24 car was one of the best on the intermediate tracks in the final part of last season and that strength should carry on through the start of the 2017 season as well. We’ll know for sure here on Sunday.