The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series moves to the uber-fast Atlanta Motor Speedway for the 25th race of the season, the Oral-B USA 500. NASCAR expert Brian Brown looked at past performances, season trends, and spoke to team contacts to provide the internet’s most accurate projection of how the field will finish.
When: Sunday, August 31; 7:46 p.m./et
Weather: Isolated T-Storms with a high around 90; wind out of the SSW at 6 mph. There is a 40 percent chance of precipitation.
The Track: Atlanta MotorSpeedway
Atlanta Motor Speedway is a very wide 1.5 mile oval. It has 24 degree banking on the corners. Due to the fast surface and steep banking it is known as the fastest track on the NASCAR circuit.
Key to Race: WHO CAN HANDLE THE SPEED?
Penske Racing has won three of the first five 1.5 mile oval races so far this season with Hendrick Motorports winning the other two. Based on that knowledge expect Brad Keselowski to be very fast. Kyle Busch took the checkers at the track last year and also should be considered in all leagues. Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle and Kyle Larson are all on the “bubble” for the final two spots in the Chase.
44 cars will attempt to qualify for 43 spots.
Fantasy Cheat Sheet:
No. 2 Brad Keselowski: Keselowski has been the fastest driver on the circuit in 1.5 mile ovals so far this season and he has run great at Atlanta during his career. He will make some noise once again in the ATL.
No. 24 Jeff Gordon: Gordon has five career wins in theATLand has finished in the top 10 in 21 of the last 27 races at the track. He will be strong once again.
No. 22 Joey Logano: Logano figured out Atlanta last year when he led the most laps and captured second place. He is a terrific option on Sunday.
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson: Johnson has visited Victory Lane in two of the past 11 Atlanta races. He will be solid this trip to Atlanta.
No. 4 Kevin Harvick: Harvick has been a good-shoe in eight of the last nine races at Atlanta. He will be very fast on Sunday.
6 to 10
No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Junior has 12 top 10 finishes in the last 22 races at Atlanta. With the way he has been driving this year he is a good choice.
No. 5 Kasey Kahne: Kahne NEEDS to win to make the Chase. He has six top five finishes in 17 career races at Atlanta, including a win in the September 2009 race. He should be running with everything he has got this weekend.
No. 18 Kyle Busch: Busch won at Atlanta last year. He will be back inside the top 10 once again this weekend.
No. 20 Matt Kenseth: Kenseth has 14 top 10 finishes in 25 starts at Atlanta. The No. 20 will be very good.
No. 99 Carl Edwards: In 15 career starts at Atlanta, Edwards has finished in the top seven an impressive 11 times. He won the September 2008 race at the track and should have no issue cracking the top 10.
11 to 20
No. 41 Kurt Busch: Busch dominated two of the last seven races at Atlanta. He is only worth using in most leagues.
No. 11 Denny Hamlin: Hamlin won the 2012 race at Atlanta. He is unlikely to find victory lane again, but a top 15 finish is expected.
No. 15 Clint Bowyer: Bowyer finished in the top seven in five of the past 11 races at Atlanta. He should and needs to have the No. 15 near the top 10 once again.
No. 16 Greg Biffle: Biffle has been terrible in four of the last 11ATLraces and great in the other seven. His inconsistency at the track bumps him just outside our top 10.
No. 78 Martin Truex Jr.: Truex has a top 10 driver rating atATLthe past six years. He is a bit of a sleeper pick on Sunday.
No. 42 Kyle Larson: Larson trails Greg Biffle for the final spot in the Chase by a nearly unsurmountable 26 points with only two points remaining. He will be giving it everything this weekend.
No. 31 Ryan Newman: Newman used to be the maestro of qualifying at Atlanta. In the 21 races he has run at the speedway he has started from the pole seven times. With the qualifying changed this year he will have to work his way through the field this visit.
No. 47 A.J. Allmendinger: “Dinger” has been awesome at ATL during his career. Get him active this weekend.
No. 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Stenhouse notched a top 20 finish in his first Cup visit to Atlanta last year. Look for him to finish inside the top 20 once again.
No. 33 Austin Dillon: Dillon ran well at ATL last year. He is worth using as a fourth or fifth driver in all leagues.
21 to 30
No. 14 Tony Stewart: As of Wednesday evening “Smoke” is penciled in to run at Atlanta. His status clearly could change at any moment.
No. 1 Jamie McMurray: McMurray has averaged a 20th place finish in 19 career starts at Atlanta. We see him taking the checkers around there again.
No. 27 Paul Menard: Menard has been hot-and-cold at Atlanta. He is worth using for those of you desperate for a sleeper.
No. 43 Aric Almirola: Almirola should have no issue getting the No. 43 inside the top 25 this weekend.
No. 9 Marcos Ambrose: The Tasmanian Devil will have the No. 9 back inside the top 25.
No. 55 Brian Vickers: Vickers has been great at Atlanta in his career. He is a decent choice.
No. 10 Danica Patrick: Patrick finished 21st at Atlanta last season. She won’t finish quite as fast this visit.
No. 13 Casey Mears: Mears should crack the top 30.
No. 38 David Gilliland: The faster the track the better Gilliland drives. He usually drives great at Atlanta.
No. 34 David Ragan: Ragan, a Georgia native would love nothing more than to notch a top 20 finish at his home track. We don’t see it happening this time around.
No. 33 Ty Dillon
No. 51 Justin Allgaier
No. 7 Michael Annett
No. 40 Landon Cassill
No. 36 Reed Sorenson
No. 23 Alex Bowman
No. 26 Cole Whitt
No. 83 Ryan Truex
No. 95 Michael McDowell
No. 98 Josh Wise
No. 32 J.J. Yeley
No. 37 Dave Blaney
No. 77 Joe Nemechek
No. 66 Brett Moffitt
My Yahoo! Fantasy NASCAR Team for this Week:
A. Jeff Gordon
B. Brad Keselowski
B. Joey Logano
C. Kyle Larson