If the first five races this year on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks are an indication, David Ragan should finish somewhere in the 30s at Atlanta. His best result on this track type in 2014 is a pair of 31sts at Charlotte and Kentucky.
Ragan also has a 32nd at Vegas, so there is a strong possibility that he will finish in the low 30s. If his salary cap has shrunk to an acceptable level in some games, he could fit into the final slot on a player’s roster.
Tony Stewart will race for the first time in three weeks following a fatal accident in a sprint car event in upstate New York. He will be distracted by media attention, but should be considered a strong contender.
Stewart missed last year’s AdvoCare 500 because of a physical injury, but two of his past three Atlanta races ended in top-fives including a victory in 2010. Look for him to limit his availability to the media by spending a lot of time in the car and if his practice sessions are solid, do not shy away from starting him.
Paul Menard is consistent and occasionally strong on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks. In five races this year he has a best of third at Vegas and a worst of 17th at Kansas.
On those two tracks plus Texas, Charlotte, and Kentucky he has combined for an average finish of 10.4. At his salary cap level, that makes him one of this week’s best values.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. will run chassis 88-901 this week in the Oral-B USA 500; it is a brand new chassis that has not yet been raced.
Earnhardt has had an up-and-down season on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks this year and while there is no reason to belief this new chassis will not be as strong as any other coming out of the No. 88/48 shop, fantasy owners need to watch him in practice before committing an allocation.
Clint Bowyer once earned four sixth-place finishes at Atlanta in five races from 2007 through 2009. In the six races since then, he has only one more top-20, which was a seventh in fall 2010.
That drops Bowyer’s most recent six-race average to 26.8 on this track and calls into question his usefulness as a fantasy pick. Until practice and qualification, the driver of the No. 15 is simply one to watch.
Carl Edwards will race chassis No. RK-880 this week in the Oral-B USA 500; this chassis was last run at Kentucky, another similarly-configured, 1.5-mile track. Edwards did not fare particularly well there with a 17th-place finish.
In recent weeks, Edwards has seemed much stronger, however, and a top-10 should be considered likely so long as the No. 99 avoids trouble.
Brad Keselowski will seek to score his third victory on a similarly-configured, 1.5-mile track this week at Atlanta. His previous two wins came at Vegas in the Kobalt 400 and Kentucky in the Quaker State 400.
Those are his only top-fives on this track type. His other three attempts at Texas, Kansas, and Charlotte all ended in top-10s, but given his level of success this year, nothing short of contending for victory will make him a good value.
Tony Stewart has decided to return to racing this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. The Aug. 31 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the 1.54-mile oval will mark Stewart’s first start since Aug. 3 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.
Stewart sat out the past three races at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn and Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway following the tragic accident on Aug. 9 involving Kevin Ward Jr. during a sprint car feature at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park. At 1 p.m. EDT on Friday in the infield media center at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Stewart will be available to the press, where he will be joined by Stewart-Haas Racing executive vice president Brett Frood.-True Speed Communication