DraftKings NASCAR: Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500
DraftKings NASCAR: Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500

This article is part of our DraftKings NASCAR series.

Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500

Location: Hampton, Ga.
Course: Atlanta Motor Speedway
Format: 1.5-mile quad-oval
Laps: 325

Race Preview

Denny Hamlin won last week's Daytona 500 to become the first driver to reserve his spot in the season-ending playoffs. He was the final winner under NASCAR's restrictor-plate rules for superspeedways, and as soon as he crossed the finish line, the rest of the Monster Energy Cup series competition focused their attention on Atlanta Motor Speedway and the next generation of racing. Surprisingly, the Ford power expected to dominate Daytona failed to materialize, as Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota teammates swept the top three finishing positions. Toyota machines ran well all afternoon, and that performance could indicate potential success to come the remainder of this season. Gone are the free-breathing engines on intermediate tracks, as NASCAR is rolling out tapered spacers and new aerodynamics to reduce horsepower, increase the power of the draft and bunch competition closer together. What little information fantasy players may have gleaned from last week's race likely will be irrelevant under the new rules package this week. The 2018 All-Star Race is the closest comparison to the race fans might expect this weekend. Kevin Harvick won that race, leading 36 of the 93 laps. Daniel Suarez and Joey Logano rounded out the top three. Fantasy players will need to pay close attention to practice and qualifying trends in Atlanta this week to compensate for the lack of historical data.

Key Stats at Atlanta Motor Speedway

Number of previous races: 111
Winners from pole: 14
Winners from top-5 starters: 62
Winners from top-10 starters: 87
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 8
Fastest race: 166.633 mph

Last 10 Atlanta Winners

2018 - Kevin Harvick
2017 - Brad Keselowski
2016 - Jimmie Johnson
2015 - Jimmie Johnson
2014 - Kasey Kahne
2013 - Kyle Busch
2012 - Denny Hamlin
2011 - Jeff Gordon
2010 fall - Tony Stewart
2010 spring - Kurt Busch

The racing this week in Atlanta should be very different than we've seen in the past. The days of a team nailing the setup out of the box and streaking away to a multisecond lead are likely gone. While horsepower will make a difference to drivers attempting passes, they will only become susceptible to getting passed again once they make it by. Harvick's win in the All-Star Race last year showed that a driver with a good car can spend a significant amount of time out front with the new configuration, though. That tells me that while the significant leads of the past may vanish, there could still be room for a dominant machine. Drivers who can maintain momentum and leverage runs made possible by timing moves could make the difference between top-five and mid-pack finishes. Don't expect the nose-to-tail freight trains of Daytona and Talladega, but look to have more cars on the lead lap and much more frequent passing throughout the field. Timing moves and maintaining the ability to run wide open will be the difference makers as drivers look to join Denny Hamlin by booking a spot in the playoffs with an early win as soon as possible.

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
(Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Kevin Harvick - $12,200
Brad Keselowski - $11,100
Kyle Busch - $10,500

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Chase Elliott - $9,700
Martin Truex Jr. - $9,500
Kyle Larson - $9,300
Clint Bowyer - $9,100

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Ryan Blaney - $8,900
Kurt Busch - $8,500
Daniel Suarez - $7,900
Matt DiBenedetto - $7,600

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

William Byron - $7,100
Paul Menard - $7,000
Ryan Newman - $6,900
Daniel Hemric - $6,800

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Kyle Busch - $10,500
Clint Bowyer - $9,100
Erik Jones - $8,100
Daniel Suarez - $7,900
Matt DiBenedetto - $7,600
Daniel Hemric - $6,800

Not going with favorite Harvick this week can open a lot of options for DraftKings rosters. In this option, I went with Kyle Busch as the top choice. He was close to winning his first Daytona 500 last week, has two Atlanta wins and will push hard to get an early win this week. Bowyer is a top option in a Ford machine. He was fastest in the early practice on Friday and got his first Atlanta top-five last season with a third-place run. Those not sold on him could go with Aric Almirola in his place. Jones not only had a terrific Daytona 500 by finishing third, but he also finished second in the Monster Energy Open race in Charlotte last season with a similar rules package to this weekend. Both Suarez and DiBenedetto looked like breakout sleepers last week in Daytona, and this week we're expecting more of the same. Both have entered new phases of their careers and are riding a wave of competitive momentum from Daytona. Hemric showed top 20 practice speeds Friday morning and should be able to leverage his Xfinity series skills with the reduced horsepower this season in the Cup series. He finished ninth and 11th at this track in his two Xfinity starts.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Kevin Harvick - $12,200
Martin Truex Jr. - $9,500
Kurt Busch- $8,500
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $7,500
Alex Bowman - $7,300
Paul Menard - $7,000
Ross Chastain - $5,500

Harvick is the expected favorite this week in Atlanta having won the last race at the track as well as the last race under a similar rules package that debuts this week. Harvick has led more than 1,100 laps at this track and has two wins. Last season's rival Truex led 17 laps in the All-Star race last season and has only failed to finish in the top 10 once in his last seven Atlanta starts. Kyle Larson could also be a good selection in this position. Another driver with plenty of Atlanta pedigree is Kurt Busch, who has three wins at the track and led 52 laps during last year's visit. He was also fourth quickest in the opening practice for the weekend. Bowman is a confident selection to back up the big names on this roster after a good showing last week in Daytona when he finished 11th. He was 20th in Atlanta last year, but more importantly won the opening stage of last year's Monster Energy Open race to transfer into the main event. This new rules package could be a boost for him. Menard probably should have had a better Daytona 500, but he is another driver who fared well with the similar rules package in the Open last year. He was 17th in Atlanta last season. Finally, Chastain turned heads when he was in the car in 2017. He should be ready for more this year. He finished 30th after starting 34th in this race last season.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. C.J. Radune plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: cjradune, RaceDayScore: cjradune.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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