Race: Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500
Date: Sunday February 28, 2016
Track: Atlanta Motor Speedway
Time: 1 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com
What a great start to the season! Denny Hamlin edged out Martin Truex Jr. for the win in the closest finish in Daytona 500 finish. Overall, it was a very clean race. Drivers raced fair and there really werenít too many drivers taken out by anything short of lack of traction. Dale Jr. experienced that lack of traction when he spun out all on his own, ending his chances of winning after a strong run throughout the majority of the race. In his words, he stated that they had some work to do on the car to gain better traction and also as a driver to work on the drafting here at Daytona, as the style of drafting has evolved over the years with the changes to the cars. As it stands, Hamlin pulled out of line on the last lap to power around Matt Kenseth and give Toyota their first 500 win. This weekend the drivers head to another fast track to carry on the speed from Daytona.
Atlanta brings a lot of action because of the speeds it carries despite not being a super speedway. The drivers still get to speeds in excess of 195 mph on the straights at this track, paving the way for tremendous wrecks. This track is much like Daytona when it comes to the importance of track position because of the sheer speed; however, tires always seem to be the name of the game here at Atlanta. There isnít a draft like there is at the super speedways, so drivers must rely on fresh rubber to propel them to the front of the pack and often to work through traffic, as the cars space out much more here than they do at Daytona and Talladega. Goodyear has done a tremendous amount of testing on this track and produced a good tire over the last few races.
This track is a 1.54 mile quad-oval. Its renovation in 1997 from a standard oval to a quad-oval really gave it the speed that we see today. To compare this track, it is very similar to Texas Motor Speedway. It is banked, providing the drivers with plenty of momentum out of the 24 degree turns . The straights have a minimal 5 degree banking. With the banking, this means little to no braking, as we saw last weekend. This keeps the speeds top notch. Another interesting note this year is the downforce aero package that we saw at Darlington last year. This package gave us a really good race. It kept one driver from necessarily running away from the field. The only problem is that it gave us an enormous amount of cautions at Darlington. With the speeds that we typically see at Atlanta, though, I think that this is a good move on NASCARís part and will lend itself to a more exciting race where the drivers can show their skills a bit more instead of just having the fastest car.
If we want to take a look at potential winners, I think that Daytona is a good indicator in terms of horse power because this is very clearly a horse power-driver track. That being said, the Penske boys are always contenders. We can also take a look at the drivers who excel at Texas do to the previously stated similarities between the 2 tracks. If we do that, I think that we have to give Matt Kenseth some credit here, especially after his strong run at Daytona. Heís got a knack for these intermediate but fast speedways. I think that heís going to be one to watch closely on Sunday. Thereís a lot of drivers out there including Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, and Kyle Busch that we are going to have to keep our eyes on. Kevin Harvick is a leader in this field as well, but his 500 run was disappointing to say the least when it comes to what weíre used to seeing from him. Letís take a look at your potential winners this weekend heading to Atlanta:
My Pick to Win: Jimmie Johnson
Middle of the Road Pick: Carl Edwards
Dark Horse Prediction: Kyle Larson. Bet your picks using your credit card at an online betting site where your credit card WILL work for depositing and where you'll receive a generous 50% deposit bonus up to $250 in FREE money! --> Bovada Sportsbook.
Johnson is the defending champ of this race, and if he can avoid penalties from his pit crew, he will be in good standing to defend his title. Carl Edwards won at Darlington last year with this package. With it being introduced at Atlanta and with his decent run at Daytona, I believe that he will excel here this weekend. Kyle Larson has impressed with his qualifying speeds, but has failed to impress in most of his finishes in Sprint Cup. Atlanta is the caveat to that with his 2 finishes here being inside the top ten. He is starting the season with a top 10 finish, so thatís a good point of momentum for him. He will work towards another top 10 and maybe a top 5 this weekend. Daytona set the stage for our points race to begin. It will take several weeks before we see anyone truly dominate as the points average out from race to race and we see what the teams have truly worked on and gained experience with in the off-season. Hereís a look at your current top 16 as they sit after the 500:
Here are your current top 16 after last week's race:
1. Denny Hamlin
2. Martin Truex Jr.
3. Kyle Busch
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Carl Edwards
6. Joey Logano
7. Kyle Larson
8. Regan Smith
9. Austin Dillon
10. Kurt Busch
11. Ryan Newman
12. Aric Almirola
13. Kasey Kahne
14. Matt Kenseth
15. Michael McDowell
16. Jimmie Johnson
Heading into Atlanta, I believe that we are going to see another exciting race. The changes that NASCAR is implementing seem to be leading towards better racing for both the fans and drivers overall. Atlanta will be another test of that opinion with the downforce package that the drivers will be running. Stay tuned to see how these guys fare as Jimmie Johnson aims to defend his title this weekend at Atlanta! Bet your QuikTrip 500 predictions at a sportsbook that offers a 50% bonus, Nascar betting, online poker AND online casino games! --> MyBookie.
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