Kevin Harvick – Kevin Harvick will be the favorite to win at Atlanta. He’s run extremely well and has been the class of the field in recent seasons. Over the last six Atlanta races Harvick has the best driver rating, a 3.8 average running position, has led 835 laps and has a misleading 8.3 average finish. In 5 of those 6 races he’s led 100 laps or more. Last year Harvick had a dominate performance but finished a misleading 9th after getting a late pit road speeding penalty while leading. In the race his car was in a league of it’s own and if he didn’t get that late penalty there’s no doubt he would’ve won. When the checkered flag waved he earned the best driver rating, had a 2nd place average running position, and led 292 laps. Additionally it should be noted he won both Stages. In 2016 he also should’ve won, but Jimmie Johnson used superior pit strategy that got him the win. At the very end there was a caution and that dropped him from 2nd to his 6th place finish. Additionally in the race it should be noted he earned the best driver rating, had a 3rd place average running position and led a race high 131 laps. In 2015 he had a phenomenal car. He started in the rear of the field because of an engine change but that wasn’t a problem for him. He finished 2nd, had a 4th place average running position and led 116 laps. Last year at 1.5 mile tracks Harvick scored the 2nd most points, had a 6.4 average running position and an 8.2 average finish.
Martin Truex Jr. – Martin Truex Jr. is a super elite performer at 1.5 mile tracks who’ll be tough to beat. Last year over the 11 races at tracks of this length he had 7 wins, 9 top fives and had a result in the top 8 every race. Additionally he had a 2.5 average finish, a 4.5 average running position and won 4 of the 5 playoff races at these venues. Those Playoff wins are extremely impressive because everyone was bringing their best equipment in those races. Atlanta has been a good track for Truex. He has three straight top tens, and has had a result in the top eight in 5 of the last 6 races. Over the last three Atlanta races he has the 3rd best driver rating, a 7.0 average finish and a 7.3 average running position. Last year at Atlanta he had a solid showing. He finished 8th, earned the 8th best driver rating and had a 6th place average running position. In both Stages he finished 4th. In 2016 he had one of the strongest cars and was a contender to win. In the race he earned the 3rd best driver rating, had a 4th place average running position, finished 7th and led 34 laps. If it wasn’t for late cautions he likely would’ve finished in 4th. In 2015 he had a solid showing. He finished 6th, earned the 6th best driver rating and had a 10th place average running position. On Sunday look for Truex Jr. to finish in the top five and be a serious factor to win.
Kyle Larson – Kyle Larson will be a contender at Atlanta. He’s an elite intermediate track performer who almost reached victory lane last year. In 2017 when the checkered flag waved he finished 2nd, earned the 4th best driver rating and had a 6th place average running position. Additionally he finished 9th in Stage #1 and 5th in Stage #2. In the closing laps Harvick got a pit road speeding penalty and then Larson found himself in the lead. He should’ve won, but he made some bad lane decisions which cost himself the win. In the two Atlanta races prior to that he didn’t have good performances and had back to back 26th place results, don’t let that scare you away. In 2016 Larson wasn’t competitive and finished 3 laps down in 26th. He just didn’t run well and also got a pit cone violation. In 2015 he finished a misleading 26th. He was on pace to finish around 17th but with 21 laps to go he was involved in a multi-car accident which led to his misleading result. In 2014 when he made his Atlanta debut he finished 8th, had an 11th place average running position and earned the 13th best driver rating.