NOTE: Just view this as “Advance Content” until the starting lineup comes out.
Joey Logano – Joey Logano will be tough to beat at Atlanta. It’s been a great track for him and he ranks among the premier performers at venues where tire wear is high. Last year at high-tire wear intermediates in incident free races (4 races), Logano had three results in the top five and had a 6th place average finish. This year over the three races at low-grip intermediates, his average finish is 12th, but that underrates him. Last year at Atlanta, Logano easily looked top five good, but finished a misleading 23rd. In the race he finished 7th in Stage #1, 6th in Stage #2 and was running in 2nd around lap 295 when he made a late unexpected pit stop because of a tire issue. Speed Analytics wise, Logano had the 3rd best Green Flag Average Speed and ranked as the 3rd Fastest Driver Late In A Run. In 2018, Logano had a strong showing. He finished 10th in Stage #1, 4th in Stage #2, had an 8th place average running position and finished 6th when the checkered flag waved. In 2017, Logano had a solid performance. He finished 6th and earned the 6th best driver rating. That’s impressive when you take into account he had to overcome a pit penalty. In 2016, Logano was a top five contender, but finished a misleading 12th. Around lap 150 during green flag pit stops while running in 7th he got a pit cone violation and later he made an unexpected pit stop for a loose wheel. In 2015, Logano started on the pole, earned the 2nd best driver rating, had a 4th place average running position, finished 4th and led 84 laps.
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Kevin Harvick – Kevin Harvick is a super-elite performer at Atlanta who should be on your short list of favorites. He’s a recent winner who performs at an extremely high-level, year in and year out. Since 2015 at Atlanta, Harvick has the best driver rating by a wide margin, a 4.4 average finish, a 3.2 average running position and he’s averaged leading 153 laps per race. Last year, Harvick had a strong showing. He finished 4th, had a 4th place average running position, earned the 2nd best driver rating and led 45 laps. Additionally, he finished 2nd in Stage #1 and won Stage #2. Speed Analytics wise, he ranked as the Fastest Driver Late In A Run and his Green Flag Average Speed was the 2nd best. In 2018, Harvick put on a display of domination and raced his way to victory lane. In addition to finishing first he earned the best driver rating, led 181 laps, won Stage #1 and finished 5th in Stage #2. During the Stage #1 caution after he just won the segment, he made a second pit stop which dropped him back to 19th. In 2017, Harvick had a phenomenal car 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 its own and if he didn’t get that late penalty there’s no doubt he would’ve won. In the race he won Stage #1, won Stage #2, earned the best driver rating and led an impressive 292 laps. This year at intermediate tracks, Harvick is 6 for 6 in terms of finishing in the top ten and his average finish is tied for a series best 6.2. At Darlington where tire wear is high like Atlanta he had results of 1st and 3rd. On Sunday, look for Harvick to finish in the top five and be a serious threat to win.
Chase Elliott – Atlanta is Chase Elliott’s home track and on Sunday I think he’ll be a factor. It’s been a good track for him, and you have to love how strong he’s been at intermediate tracks this year. This year at intermediate tracks minus Darlington #2 where he was wrecked while running in 2nd and Las Vegas where he likely had the best car, Elliott has a 3.0 average finish. Last year at Atlanta, Elliott had a clunker performance and finished 19th. It just wasn’t a good afternoon, and personally I wouldn’t read into it too much since at that point in the 2019 season Hendrick wasn’t running well company wide. In the three Atlanta races prior to that he had a 7.6 average finish and had a result between 5th to 10th every race. In 2018, Elliott started back in 27th, but raced his way to a 10th place finish. Also in the race he earned the 14th best driver rating and had a 14th place average running position. In 2017, Elliott had a very strong showing. He earned the 3rd best driver rating, had a 4th place average running position, finished 5th and led 19 laps. Additionally, he finished 3rd in Stage #1 and 2nd in Stage #2. If there wasn’t late cautions he was likely poised to finish in 2nd. In 2016 when he made his Atlanta debut he finished 8th, earned the 9th best driver rating and had a 10th place average running position.