The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is at Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend for their annual stop at the old, worn out race track. Atlanta is one of those places that eats up tires like nobody’s business, and any time these drivers have the opportunity to pit on Sunday, they’re going to be getting four tires.
Qualifying on Friday had quite a few surprises, including last year’s Atlanta winner, Kevin Harvick, ending up 18th. Additionally, the Penske trio of Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, and Ryan Blaney all struggled to find speed, and will start 27th, 19th, and 26th on Sunday (respectively). You can find the full starting lineup for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 by clicking here.
Please note that Kyle Busch wrecked his primary car during practice on Saturday and will have to go to a backup car on Sunday. He will also have to start from the rear of the field. However, since his qualifying time was not disallowed, he will still be scored from the 6th starting spot in Slingshot Fantasy Auto.
*Please note: the picks and suggestions below are my opinions and strategy for the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. These are not meant to sway your thinking in any way, but rather give you insight into the drivers I am most likely to pick on Sunday.*
Slingshot Fantasy Auto Picks for Atlanta
Kevin Harvick ($12,400) – Looking at the driver salaries for Sunday’s race at Atlanta, there’s a ton of place differential potential with the high-priced drivers. Now the question is, should you pay up for those guys. My opinion? Yes. This is a 500-mile race this weekend, and there’s plenty of time for these guys to get to the front. Not only is the opportunity there to score massive place differential points, but also Stage and overall Finish points. With Harvick, he had some power steering issues on Friday and that’s why he starts back in 18th. He’s the defending winner of this race and has led over 100 laps in six of the last seven Atlanta events. He’s a must-play in my book, even at that $12,400 salary.
Joey Logano ($12,100) – Again, I have no problem going top heavy with my Slingshot roster this weekend. Logano starts way back in 27th but should be at least a top 10 threat by the end of the day, if not top 5. The #22 Ford was 7th-fastest in the Happy Hour practice here on Saturday, and as far as track history goes, Logano has finished 6th or better in four of the last six Atlanta races. His worst result over that span? 14th. Logano is an elite talent on 1.5-mile tracks and with a game like Slingshot Fantasy Auto that relies heavily on place differential, he’s another must-play driver on Sunday–at least in my opinion.
Kyle Larson ($11,000) – This is where things got a little interesting for me as I was building my Slingshot lineup. I really wanted to fit Chase Elliott ($11,800) or Martin Truex, Jr. ($11,200) in this spot, but I just couldn’t make it work with the salary cap. There’s also Ryan Blaney ($10,600) starting back in 26th with great place differential potential, but I’m going to go for the finish points here with Kyle Larson starting 7th. Larson was the only car even close to Kyle Busch in speed on Saturday, and I think the #42 Chevrolet is going to be a serious contender for the win on Sunday. Larson has made five starts at Atlanta in his young career and three of those have ended with finished of 9th or better, including a career-best 2nd back in 2017. Larson averaged the 4th-best finish on 1.5-mile tracks in 2018 with an 8.0.
William Byron ($8,200) – Full disclosure, I’m not in love with this pick, but I think Byron is a decent option in this price range and he fit with the cap, so I’m rolling with it. As far as performance on this track type last year, Byron was one of those drivers you simply didn’t pick, as his average finish was one of the worst: 25.8. However, a lot of that was due to bad luck. Now William has Chad Knaus calling the shots on the pit box, and the #24 Chevrolet looks to have speed this weekend, as Byron ranked 8th in ten-lap average during Happy Hour on Saturday. I just hope he can make it the full 500 miles on Sunday…
Chris Buescher ($6,300) – Atlanta is one of those tracks where it’s not very smart to dig down too far into the barrel of drivers. The cream rises to the top at this track, so it’s rare for those bottom feeder drivers to be worth anything. I don’t consider Chris Buescher a bottom feeder driver, but I do think he’s a great Fantasy NASCAR option overall this weekend, especially in Slingshot and DraftKings. Buescher qualified back in 30th for Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, but he’s finished between 24th and 28th in all three of his Cup Series starts here thus far. Yeah, those aren’t amazing numbers, but that’s decent value for a guy priced this low this weekend, plus there’s some place differential points to be had as well. For what it’s worth, Buescher had a very respectable average finish of 21.7 on the 1.5-mile race tracks last season.