Congratulations to Austin Dillon on winning the Daytona 500 for the first time and taking the #3 car back to victory lane there. This also gives Austin a spot in the playoffs this year and takes a lot of pressure off of this team for the short term.
Once again we had a restrictor plate race with a lot of accidents that took out most of the field, but at the same time it was quite exciting to watch with drivers challenging each other and making risky moves to gain stage points throughout the race. As I cautioned everyone before the race, don’t use the best drivers because they might get caught up in a wreck that isn’t of there own making and this happened to quite a few of them.
I will also tell everyone right now, it doesn’t matter how well or how poorly your team did in the opening race of the season. There are still thirty-five more races to go and a lot of racing left. If you took my advice for the 500 you will still be in good shape come October and November.
FOLDS OF HONOR QUIKTRIP 500
This week the series heads to the Atlanta Motor Speedway for the running of the Folds of Honor Quiktrip 500. Once again we have a long race this coming weekend with a lot of speed in it. We didn’t see a lot of engine woes all last season and that should continue here again this year. This is going to be a race where the track will change quite a bit from the beginning to the end and the teams will have to keep up with the track when making changes to the cars on pit stops.
Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie is my pick to win this week after a tough week at Daytona where he wrecked three cars in three races. He was looking plenty fast before getting knocked out at Daytona and always seems to run well at Atlanta. This can be seen by Jimmie winning two of the last five races at this track. I think this team is at the top of or farther ahead at this stage of the season than most other teams each year for some reason. Look for Johnson to visit victory lane this week.
Martin Truex Jr.: Let’s not forget what Martin did last season. Eight wins and a championship with most of those wins coming on the mile-and-a-half tracks like Atlanta. Although he didn’t win one of those eight races at Atlanta he will be strong here once again and could put this track on his list of wins for this season. It will be interesting to see if any of the other teams have improved at all and if Martin is as good or better on these tracks this year.
Kyle Busch: Last year Kyle started out with a lot of bad luck and it took him a while to get a win which he almost turned into another championship. Well, he started out on the wrong foot once again this year, but I think that is going to be short lived. Kyle has won here before and I think he is going to have something to say this week before the race is decided.
Chase Elliott: Chase looked really strong at Daytona and I look for him to have an outstanding season. He came so close so many times last year and we all know his first ever Cup win is coming soon. This is the type of track where he has been consistently strong over the past season and will probably be the type of track he gets his first win at and that might come this weekend. He finished in the top ten in his only two starts at this track last season and his confidence will be high once again entering this race.
Kevin Harvick: Kevin has been very stout over the past two season and always seems to run well here. He started his first ever Cup race at this track and won that race and hasn’t looked back since then. In his last five starts, Kevin has finished in the top ten four times at this track. He is another driver who had a disappointing week at Daytona and will be chomping at the bit to get back on the track this weekend.
Joey Logano: Last season after Joey won the spring race at Richmond and was found to be in violation during post race inspection and his win was considered encumbered by NASCAR, Joey never found his way back to top form. Well, he started his road to recovery last weekend at Daytona, where he fought back from being a lap down twice in the race to come away with a top five finish. If that doesn’t give this team a lot of confidence nothing will. Joey has two top five and three top ten finishes in his last five starts at Atlanta.
Kurt Busch: Kurt came close to pulling off back to back Daytona 500 victories this past weekend. It will be interesting to see if this team has gotten better this season and can run more consistently than they did after that win last year when you never knew which team was going to show up. I think they will show a lot of speed once again this weekend where Kurt has also finished in the top five twice and top ten three times in his last five starts here.
Kyle Larson: We didn’t hear much of Kyle last week, but I think you will hear his name called out this weekend. Kyle ran fast at these tracks all last season and I see this team doing the same thing once again this year. He has only run four race at this track and has one top five and two top ten finishes to show for his efforts. I have no fear that this team will run just as well if not better than they did last season.
Ryan Blaney: Oh so close and very disappointing for this young talented driver. He led more laps than anyone else last week at Daytona only to see his hopes and dreams dashed after a late race restart. However, he showed how talented he really is and we can all see that he is going to be a driver to be reckoned with on a weekly basis now that he is on an even better team than he was on last season. I still think he needs to learn a little more patience and when he does, look out field.
Erik Jones: Erik showed us all what he has to offer the sport last season and now that he is on a team with more than one veteran driver, he will learn a lot more quickly than he picked it up last season. I see this team getting better and better every week as the season progresses. He finished fourteenth in his only start here last year and should improve on that number this weekend.
DRIVER GROUP GAME FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Driver Group Game Group A
- Jimmie Johnson
- Martin Truex Jr.
Driver Group Game Group B
- Chase Elliott
- Kurt Busch
- Ryan Blaney
- Erik Jones
Driver Group Game Group C
- Alex Bowman
- Darrell Wallace Jr.
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY
- Jimmie Johnson
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Chase Elliott
- Kyle Busch
- Kevin Harvick
Dark Horse: Aric Almirola
Stay Away From: Denny Hamlin
Big 18: Chase Elliott