If you love worn out ovals, you’re in for a treat this weekend! In round #6 of the 2021 season, NASCAR is heading to Atlanta! Atlanta is a high-tire wear D-shaped oval where tire management is key. Over the course of a run, we may very well see speeds drop off about 15 MPH. There’s no question every pit stop will be four tires, unless someone does something crazy during a late caution. In terms of tire wear at Atlanta, I would say it might just be a little more extreme then Homestead which was race #3 this season. Look for drivers who were fast at Homestead to also potentially have a great race here.
Typically the best drivers at managing tires are veterans, and at Atlanta there’s been some supers standouts. As you’ll read below, Denny Hamlin has a 6.7 average finish here over the last three races. That’s great, but five drivers are actually better than him over that stretch (Harvick 2.0, Truex 3.3, Keselowski 4.0, Kyle Busch 3.7 and Kurt Busch 5.7).
In terms of what I want in a driver this week I want …. 1) Great track record 2) Running well right now 3) Displayed prowess at high-tire wear tracks
Here’s the Atlanta Starting Lineup! Just a fun fact, the last three drivers who won from the pole at Atlanta are Kasey Kahne, Bobby Labonte and Dale Earnhardt (not Junior!).
This year at ifantasyrace.com we’re committed to writing about the full field every week. In previous weeks, “Super Low-Tier” drivers were in this post. Now they have their own separate post, so check it out “Super Low Tier- Atlanta!”
Final Top 25 Rankings For Atlanta (and content on all notables)
1) Kyle Larson (Starting – 6th)
Atlanta Fantasy Spin – Kyle Larson will be a favorite at Atlanta. “Performance Wise”, Larson’s been a contender to win here in 2 of his last 3 races. In 2019 when Larson most recently raced here he ranked #1 in our exclusive PROS Rankings which show you what driver subjectively had the best car. This year on the track, Larson has been stellar. In 2021, Larson has the 2nd best Total Speed Ranking over the combined events and at the two 1.5 mile tracks visited, nobodies been better. He won in dominant fashion at Las Vegas, and at Homestead he finished 4th. On Sunday, look for Larson to be a top five contender who’ll be a factor to win.
Atlanta Track History – Kyle Larson has performed at a high-level at a Atlanta and over his last three races he has a 6.7 average running position and a 7.7 average finish. In 2019 when Larson had his most recent Atlanta race there’s a good chance he would’ve won, but his race wasn’t incident free. In the race he won Stage #1, finished 2nd in Stage #2, led a race high 142 laps but finished a misleading 12th. With about 100 laps to go while he was the leader he was caught speeding on pit road and that dropped him back to about 16th. When the checkered flag waved he finished 12th. In 2018, Larson was a top ten performer. He finished 9th, had an 8th place average running position, earned the 10th best driver rating, finished 7th in Stage #1 and 7th in Stage #2. 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.
DraftKings $10,400/ FanDuel $12,500
Further Recommended Reading – Atlanta Projected Finish Ranges
2) Martin Truex Jr. (Starting – 2nd)
Atlanta Fantasy Spin – Martin Truex Jr. will be a factor at Atlanta. He’s never won here, but in 8 of the last 9 races he’s finished in the top 8. Currently at this worn out oval, Truex has three straight top five finishes and over the last two he’s come home with results of 2nd and 3rd. At high-tire wear tracks, Truex Jr. ranks among the best. He finished 3rd at Homestead a few weeks ago, and over the last seven on this sub-track type his Total Speed Ranking is tied with Chase Elliott for being the best. This year on the track, Truex has been strong. He’s fresh off a win at Phoenix and over the last three races his average finish is 3.3. This year at the two 1.5 mile tracks visited, Truex has a 4.5 average finish and is one of just four drivers who have finished in the top ten both races. On Sunday, look for Truex to be a top five contender who’ll be in the mix for the win.
Atlanta Track History – Martin Truex Jr. is one of the premiere performers at Atlanta. Last year, Truex was a standout performer. In the race he won Stage #1, won Stage #2, led 65 laps, had a race high 2.5 average running position and finished 3rd when the checkered flag waved. In terms of speed analytics, Truex was the 3rd Fastest Driver Late In A Run and his Total Speed Ranking was the best. I will note in terms of his Total Speed Ranking, he dropped off ever so slightly as the race progressed and his speed over the segments were 1,2,2 and then 3. In 2019, Truex had a great performance and at the end he rapidly closed in on Brad Keselowski for the lead, but came up .218 seconds short. In addition to finishing 2nd he earned the 2nd best driver rating, had a 3.7 average running position, finished 5th in Stage #1 and 3rd in Stage #2. Speed Analytics wise, Truex Jr. had the best Green Flag Average Speed and ranked as the 2nd Fastest Driver Late In A Run. In 2018, Truex had a strong showing. He started back in 35th, but that wasn’t a problem and he drove up to finish 4th in Stage #1. During Stage #2 around lap 160 while he was in 5th he had a slow pit stop that dropped him to the back. When the checkered flag waved he finished 5th, earned the 6th best driver rating and had an 8th place average running position.
DraftKings $9,600 / FanDuel $13,500
3) Kevin Harvick (Starting – 7th)
Atlanta Fantasy Spin – Kevin Harvick is a super elite performer at Atlanta who’ll be a factor. He’s the defending race winner, and year in and year out he’s performed at an extremely high level. At Atlanta, Harvick’s won 2 of the last 3 races and over the last six his average finish is 3.8. Also in recent Atlanta races, Harvick has put on displays of domination having led +100 laps in 6 of the last 7 races. At high-tire wear tracks, Harvick has been strong. He finished 5th at Homestead this year, and over the last seven his average Total Speed Ranking is the 5th best. This year on the track, Harvick’s been solid, but he hasn’t looked like a contender yet. That said, he’s been no slouch and in 4 of the 5 races he’s finished between 4th to 6th. On Sunday, look for Harvick to be a top five contender, and don’t be shocked if he shows up with a little more speed and competes for the win.
Atlanta Track History – Kevin Harvick has been a stellar performer at Atlanta and in recent races, nobody has been better. “Performance Wise”, Harvick has been good enough to win 3 of the last 4 races. Last year at Atlanta, Kevin Harvick had a great car and raced his way to victory lane. In the event he didn’t have the best car in the first half of the race, but in the second half he hit the afterburners and was unchallenged. In the race he finished 5th in Stage #1, 6th in Stage #2, had a 3.2 average running position and led a race high 151 laps. In terms of speed analytics, Harvick was the Fastest Driver Late In A Run and his Total Speed Ranking was the 3rd best, with him ranking #1 in the crucial 4th segment. In 2019, 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, Harvick 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.
DraftKings $11,000/ FanDuel $14,000