Fields of Honor QuikTrip 500 Preview and Picks to Win
Date: Sunday March 5, 2017
Track: Atlanta Motor Speedway
Time: 2:30 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com
Welp, that’s one way to start the season! Talk about a wreck fest! The new rules changes are *ahem* interesting at best, in my opinion. This whole not being allowed to come back on the track after getting damage from an accident and only allowing five minutes on pit road for repairs is pretty ridiculous. Regardless, Kurt Busch was the winner of the Daytona 500, his first ever 500 win, with a last lap pass. The last green flag run was pretty crazy. As predicted, it turned into a fuel strategy race, with 6 cars from the lead pack running out of fuel in the closing laps. Overall, Busch edged out Ryan Blaney of all people. Blaney was running strong for a good portion of the race. The kid is talented and honestly doesn’t get enough credit for his skill. I think we’re going to see big things out of him this year.
The whole race was a mixed bag to me. We saw a lot of solid popular drivers simply out of the race due to wrecks. The guys can’t go behind the wall for repairs due to accidents and come back out, so they’re eliminated. I understand the premise with NASCAR not wanting guys to drop debris on the track and all, but what I think this is going to do instead is force the drivers to stay on pit road and work as much as they can under that 5 minute clock to get back on the track and up to minimum speed. If they can get to minimum speed, that clock will restart and they can come back in for more work on pit road. I guess it’s good that the major wrecked cars aren’t going to be back on the track, but honestly, isn’t NASCAR a team sport? Isn’t the crew a huge reason why these teams are so successful? I feel like we’re heading in the direction of Formula 1 rules with repairs and working on the car. Part of stock car racing to me as a lifelong fan has always been seeing those crews work hard and get a car back together and on the track. Will the car win the race? Probably not. But the drivers still had a chance to gain valuable points and save a little bit of the day by being able to get back out there.
This weekend, we are heading to Atlanta. It’ll be interesting to see how many cars manage to stay on the track this time. Atlanta is a fast track. It’s always been one of my favorites to watch. Hopefully, it stays that way. This track is being boasted in speed only by Texas Motor Speedway now because of the worn surface. Overall, Atlanta is a 1.54 mile quad-oval with 24 degree banking in the turns and 5 degree banking on the straights. The cool thing about the records with this track is that they’re all almost from veterans. Dale Sr. and Richard Petty own most of them, but guys like Cale Yarborough and Buddy Baker having their hats in the pot as well.
Overall, Atlanta is a track position track. With the speed here, it comes down to getting up front and staying there. With the segment racing, this should keep the races on the intermediate tracks pretty competitive throughout because it’s easy for the guys to run mid-pack throughout much of the race. With the segments, there’s definitely incentive to get out in the front of the pack for the entire day. That being said, there are a lot of potential contenders at Atlanta and none of my picks are being based off the weirdness of what was Daytona. Kurt Busch managed to run well and did so in a newly revamped Ford team; however, Daytona is rarely an accurate preview as to how these drivers and teams are prepared for the remainder of the season. The main drivers to focus on are Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, and Joey Logano. These guys have shown consistency in their strength at this track and really know how to get up front and stay there.
My Pick to Win: Jimmie Johnson
Middle of the Road Pick: Chase Elliott
Dark Horse Prediction: Daniel Suarez. Bet YOUR picks to win using your credit card (you also get 50% bonus up to $250 FREE!) at one of the web’s best NASCAR betting sites: Bovada Sportsbook!
Now, if you are interested in seeing how this whole new points system is working out, join the club. And by interested, I mean still trying to figure this out. So, a driver that finished in 22nd can somehow be 4th in the overall standings. Who would’ve thunk it? That’s pretty crazy to me, but somehow, by finishing better in the segments, drivers end up with more points and basically your place when crossing the actual true last finish line means pretty much nothing unless you are the winner. Hmm. Weird. The drivers earn points based on their finishing positions, of course, and also in a couple other manners. Drivers running in the top 10 in each of the stages are awarded points accordingly. Drivers outside the top 10 do not receive any bonus points. The winner of the race overall receives 5 points. These points are calculated and carried over throughout the regular season until the Chase starts and then we get a whole other points system to worry about again. The points are sitting in a pretty bizarre place right now.
Here are your current top 16 after last week’s race:
1. Kurt Busch
2. Ryan Blaney
3. Joey Logano
4. Kevin Harvick
5. AJ Allmendinger
6. Aric Almirola
7. Kyle Larson
8. Chase Elliott
9. Denny Hamlin
10. Paul Menard
11. Trevor Bayne
12. Brad Keselowski
13. Kasey Kahne
14. Michael Waltrip
15. Matt DiBenedetto
16. Austin Dillon
Yea. So let that all sink in for a minute. While you’re doing that, realize that there are a lot of strong contenders this weekend. Johnson holds his own and has back to back wins at this track, so he should be a solid pick for the win. Chase Elliott managed an 8th place finish here last year and really showed strength on these intermediate tracks. And Suarez, well, I think that he’s a smart racer. If anything, he should be able to stay out of trouble and come home with a solid finish. Plus the other C listers are just not that great. Suarez has the best opportunity out of the crop. Look for Atlanta to really open up the season. This is going to give us a better understanding of how all of these new NASCAR rules are going to ultimately affect the season and also how the drivers stand up to the new format of racing. Stay tuned for some fast racing this weekend at Atlanta! For the lowest favorite/highest underdog betting odds and the largest variety of NASCAR wagers online, check out 5Dimes!