Set your roster for this weekend's 500-mile tilt at Atlanta Motor Speedway
I've got Georgia on my mind, and the NASCAR Cup Series drivers do, too as they head out to Atlanta Motor Speedway. The Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 is set to air on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on FOX. Get those NASCAR DraftKings rosters ready!
Atlanta is a 1.54-mile oval with an old asphalt surface — the third-oldest surface on the circuit, in fact. It's rough on Goodyears, meaning teams will need to help their driver manage tire conservation throughout the race.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NASCAR is trying to limit the number of people needed at the track, so there won't be any practices or qualifying for this race. That means the starting lineup was set by a random draw in groups of 12 based on 2020 owner points. Hometown hero Chase Elliott will start first alongside Stewart-Haas Racing's Aric Almirola.
Though there aren't as many laps in this race as there were at Bristol Motor Speedway, 325 laps are still quite a bit. You'll want drivers who can lead a lot of laps in your DraftKings lineup. Last year's race featured one dominator who led over 100 circuits, with several others leading around 30 or 40.
Remember, DraftKings awards 0.50 points for each fastest lap and 0.25 points for each lap led. Additionally, the site adds or subtracts a point for each position a driver gains or loses on track. Finally, the driver in first place scores the most points (46). Second place gets 42 DraftKings points, third gets 41, and so on. The key in daily fantasy NASCAR DraftKings is not only to target the best drivers but the ones who gain the most positions from where they start. Here's a complete rundown of DraftKings' NASCAR scoring rules.
Before we move on to this week's picks, here are the results from last Sunday's (May 31) sample lineup at Bristol.
|Price||Driver||NASCAR DraftKings Score|
|$5,500.00||John Hunter Nemechek||37.5|
Once Tyler Reddick got caught up in an early wreck, the entire lineup was set back. Not even Brad Keselowski's win or Clint Bowyer's strong run could save this score.
To win 0.75 back in the $1 Happy Hour, you needed to score 277.25. In the $1 single-entry double-up, 289.75 was the minimum cashing score.
DraftKings Daily Fantasy NASCAR Plays/Sample Lineup for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway
Kevin Harvick ($11,700)
Career at Atlanta: 29 starts, 2 wins, 8 top fives, 14 top 10s
Average finish at Atlanta: 16.3
Harvick is currently on a five-race top-10 streak at Atlanta in which he recorded three such finishes and a win in 2018. Additionally, he led over 100 laps in five straight races from 2014-18. In 2017, he led nearly 300 laps in a dominant performance before fading to ninth.
When the new package came out in 2019, Harvick's performance dipped slightly. He led just 45 laps and dropped to fourth in the final results after winning a stage. Still, it’s been quite an impressive run for a driver whose first career win came at this track (2001).
This season, the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing wheelman led 159 laps and recorded 77 quickest laps at Darlington Raceway, the first race back from the COVID-19 break. These numbers boosted Harvick's DraftKings score to 129.3 fantasy points.
Although Harvick broke his streak of eight straight top 10s to start the season last week at Bristol, he still ended the race in 11th and scored 45.5 DraftKings points. Harvick starts ninth Sunday, offering additional position differential points if he can get to the front.
Kurt Busch ($9,400)
Career at Atlanta: 28 starts, 3 wins, 7 top fives, 14 top 10s
Average finish at Atlanta: 14.9
AMS is one of Busch’s better tracks in the last 10 years, although it has been that long since he’s won there. Since 2010, Busch has only finished outside the top 10 twice at this 1.54-mile oval: in 2012 and 2014. He also has two top-five finishes in the past four races, including a podium in his second start with Chip Ganassi Racing last year.
Additionally, the No. 1 Chevrolet driver has six top 10s in the past seven events in 2020. His highest DraftKings score in that span was from The Real Heroes 400; Busch gained 19 positions to a third-place finish and scored 65 fantasy points. Even though he’s starting much higher on Sunday (12th), Busch could still get another good result and put you in the green.
Brad Keselowski ($8,900)
Career at Atlanta: 11 starts, 2 wins, 4 top fives, 7 top 10s
Average finish at Atlanta: 15.1
I fail to understand DraftKing’s pricing method. How could a driver who won two of the past five Cup races be under $9,000? One of those wins came at Bristol, where Keselowski led 115 laps and recorded 32 fastest laps. Before that, in the longest race of the season, he took advantage of Chase Elliott’s late trip down pit road to win the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Keselowski’s strong performances at these events also netted him 90.8 and 72.8 DraftKings points, respectively.
Not only that, but Keselowski's won two out of the last three races at Atlanta. Last year, he led 33 laps and held the fastest lap 28 times. In 2017, the No. 2 Team Penske pilot led 21 circuits and notched 40 fastest laps.
Based on his price and recent results, the Team Penske driver should be a popular daily fantasy play. But use him anyway; you don’t want to miss out on those DraftKings points.
Christopher Bell ($7,400)
NASCAR Xfinity Series career at Atlanta: 2 starts, 1 win, 2 top fives, 2 top 10s
Average finish at Atlanta: 2.0
Bell is somewhat of a wild card since he hasn't driven on the rough Atlanta surface in a Cup car. However, he knows his way around the track, winning the Xfinity event last year with ease. Bell led 142 laps en route to that victory; he also ran third in that race in 2018.
The driver of the No. 95 car for Leavine Family Racing has struggled quite a bit to find his footing as a Cup rookie. However, since returning to racing from COVID-19 quarantine, Bell has made some improvements. He finished 10th in the Coca-Cola 600 and ninth at BMS, the latter of which earned him 61.5 DraftKings points. Unfortunately, Bell has his highest price so far this year, but his score should make him worth the price.
Erik Jones ($6,600)
Career at Atlanta: 3 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10
Average finish at Atlanta: 10.7
There’s no reason why Jones should be this inexpensive, so you should take advantage of this discount price. At Darlington, another abrasive track, Jones finished in the top 10 in both events and scored 48.5 and 58.8 DraftKings points, respectively. At Auto Club Speedway, the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing driver totaled 54.5 DraftKings points. Even though many of the bonus points came from position differential (+19), he still earned a top 10 in that event.
Additionally, Jones steadily has had better results in each of his three races at AMS. Last season, he began 15th and crossed the finish line seventh, which helped him earn 46 DraftKings fantasy points. This time, Jones will start 14th, so if he nabs another good finish, that'll earn you some bonus points. Though Jones likely will be highly owned, you should still have him in your lineup.
Dark Horse Performer
Michael McDowell ($5,200)
Career at Atlanta: 9 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Atlanta: 34.9
Honestly, I’m not sure why McDowell is so cheap, but I’m glad he is. He’ll start 36th, which means the Front Row Motorsports driver could earn a lot of position differential points. Last week, the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports driver was edged out by his teammate John Hunter Nemechek at the finish line, but still finished 14th, tying his season high. McDowell also has four other top-20 finishes this year, which is half of what he recorded over the course of the entire 2019 season. If FRM brings another good car, and if McDowell's team has some fast pit stops, he can get another top 20.
By the way, if you want to move up to his teammate, you can. Nemechek is starting much further up than McDowell (18th), but the rookie has performed really well this year at every type of track.
(Top photo courtesy of ASP, Inc.)