For the second time this season, the NASCAR Cup Series will be down at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The July 11 race is the Quaker State 400, which was moved from Atlanta to Kentucky Speedway in 2011, but is now back in Hampton, Georgia this year.
After a lot of quirks to the schedule, we’re back at a 1.5-mile track, so normalcy could rule the day on Sunday. Odds come from BetOnline Sportsbook as we survey this weekend’s race, which is already the 21st of the NASCAR Cup Series season.
BETTING ODDS FOR THE 2021 QUAKER STATE 400
|Martin Truex Jr.||+900|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||+10000|
Kyle Larson can basically be written in as the favorite on every oval track and maybe some of the others with what he has done this season. Larson is the +240 favorite here as he looks for his fifth win of the season.
Resurgent Kyle Busch is the second favorite at +700 with a win and five top-five finishes in his last six races. He is priced slightly ahead of Chase Elliott, who is +800 after securing his second win of the season last week. Martin Truex Jr., who only has one top-five finish in his last eight races, is +900, as the only other driver in single digits.
Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, William Byron, and Ryan Blaney, who won the first race at Atlanta, are all priced at +1000 with the rest of the field anywhere from +1400 to +100000.
The season is flying by, isn’t it? Denny Hamlin’s points lead has been cut down to three and Kyle Larson has actually overtaken him in stage points. Hamlin has 225 stage points and Larson, who also has 32 playoff bonus points, has 232. Those are the only drivers with over 200 stage points and William Byron is the only other driver with over 700 total points.
There are only six races left until the playoffs begin at Darlington in early September. Drivers automatically qualify for the playoffs with a win. Those drivers are Larson, Byron, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Alex Bowman, Christopher Bell, and Michael McDowell.
The wild cards are Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Austin Dillon, Tyler Reddick, and Kurt Busch. Chris Buescher is 16th in points, but McDowell’s win would knock him out of the postseason.
Atlanta Motor Speedway Preview
Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia actually checks in at 1.54 miles on the quad oval racing surface. The turns are all 24 degrees of banking and the flat straightaways are 5 degrees each. With the big, high-banked turns, drivers can keep and maintain a lot of speed coming down into the straightaways, so this is usually a very quick race track.
The Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 is 500.5 miles. Because of sponsorship rules, this race will run as 400.4 miles and 260 laps.
Ford has won five straight races here as we head into this one. Atlanta has been a once-a-year stop since 2010, so the newer drivers don’t have nearly as much of a sample size as the old guard.
Over 31 career starts, Kevin Harvick has three wins, nine top-five finishes, and 16 in the top 10. His three wins are tied with Kurt Busch for the most among active drivers. Kurt, and brother Kyle, has seven top-five finishes. Kyle has seven fewer starts here and has 10 top-10 finishes to Kurt’s 15.
There can be some carnage on this track. Harvick has 31 starts, but only 19 lead lap finishes. Kurt has 20 lead lap finishes in 30 starts. Denny Hamlin, who has a win, six top-five finishes, and nine top-10 finishes, only has 11 lead lap finishes in 22 starts. Wrecks and mechanical issues have plagued this race in the past.
Brad Keselowski has two wins and two additional top-five finishes. He has eight top-10 finishes, which, coincidentally, is the number of lead lap finishes he has here.
Among drivers with at least 10 starts at Atlanta, Kyle Busch has the highest average finish at 13.5. You would expect somebody to have better than that, but Kyle is the only driver with at least 10 starts that averages a finish in the top 15.
Last 10 at AMS
In the last 10 races at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Harvick has finished on the lead lap in all of them and has two wins with five top-five finishes and nine top-10 finishes. His 1,212 laps led are more than the next five drivers combined. Those guys are Larson, Hamlin, Logano, Truex, and Kurt Busch.
Harvick, Hamlin, and Truex are tied for the most top-five finishes with five apiece. Keselowski and Kyle Busch each have four. Harvick has the highest average finish here at 6.6, followed by Kyle Busch and Truex. Nobody else has averaged a top-10 finish at this track over the last 10 races.
As far as the guys with less track time, Larson has a couple top-five finishes and four top 10s. Blaney has a win and another top-five finish. Elliott has one top-five finish in six tries.
Quaker State 400 Handicap
All of the recent stats point to Kevin Harvick at +1000, but Harvick is ninth in points and only has six top-five finishes to this point. Until he proves that he can win one, you simply cannot take him here.
Kyle Busch has run well lately, including a second and a first at Pocono, but his versatility has been a big factor with good finishes at Sonoma and Road America. A more traditional oval may level that playing field quite a bit.
On the flip side, guys like Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski that simply run better on ovals than the unconventional layouts haven’t had great finishes lately, but have run well on these types of tracks in the past.
Quaker State 400 Picks
William Byron is a pick at +1000 this week. Byron held his own on the quirky courses over the last few weeks, but he’s been great in traditional oval races, with a win at Homestead-Miami and top-10 finishes at Las Vegas, Phoenix, Atlanta, Martinsville, Richmond, Talladega, Kansas, Darlington, Dover, Charlotte, and Nashville. He’s had great speed on the traditional layouts.
Brad Keselowski was 28th at Atlanta in the first race, but has two wins recently here and ran very well at Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Kansas. He had a good car in the second Pocono race. We never see Keselowski at a price like +1400 here. He’s a good value bet this week.