Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 fantasy picks

By Taylor Goins
March 4, 2017

HAMPTON, Ga.—When the NASCAR circuit rolls into Hampton, GA at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the promise of a championship and multi-win season is still alive for all drivers.

Hope springs eternal at the beginning of a new year and this time of the year is always exciting. Drivers will be trying to either capitalize on the momentum of Daytona or turn things around before a tough opening race turns into an early-season slide.

Just as race teams have great optimism for the 2017 schedule, so do fantasy NASCAR players. Making picks at Atlanta is a little more difficult than at Daytona, for the simple fact that restrictor plate racing is basically like a lottery.

Intermediate tracks such as Atlanta are less dependent on the luck of the draw and therefore require a little more precision in picking. Without further ado, here are your best bets for pacing your fantasy field this weekend at Atlanta.

WINNING PICK
Kevin Harvick
It may come as a surprise to some that Jimmie Johnson is not the winning pick for this weekend’s race, but Kevin Harvick poses the strongest challenge to the seven-time champion at Atlanta. Harvick showed serious speed during qualifying on Friday, earning the pole position.

Harvick has historically been strong at Atlanta, as he earned his first career victory at the track in 2001 and has posted 11 top-ten finishes over the course of his career.

The switch to Ford seems to be paying off for Stewart-Haas Racing in general and Harvick in particular as evidenced by the pole position they nabbed this weekend, and no one should be surprised to see him notch the first win for SHR with their new manufacturer this weekend.

TOP CONTENDERS
Jimmie Johnson
Jimmie Johnson is by far the strongest driver in the field at Atlanta statistically speaking, and would be considered by most to be the hands-down favorite for the QuikTrip Folds of Honor 500.

Johnson has a whopping five wins at the track and an impressive career average finish of 10.68. As if that weren’t impressive enough, he has a series-best 107.1 driver rating at the Hampton, GA, track.

Johnson struggled during qualifying, though, and came home in 18th position. He will be a contender this week for sure but must improve slightly to bring home the victory.

Martin Truex Jr.
Another top contender this weekend is Martin Truex Jr. Truex had an excellent qualifying run on Friday, placing his Bass Pro Shops Toyota inside the top-ten at ninth place. Nine seems to be the lucky number for Truex at Atlanta; his driver rating at the track is also ninth best in the series.

These numbers are solid and prove that Truex has a skill-set suited for racing at the 1.5 mile oval.

His innate driving abilities, coupled with a strong run in the Daytona 500 last weekend, give the Furniture Row Racing team reason to believe that they can bring a trophy back to their home base of Denver, Colorado, after this Sunday’s race.

VALUE PICKS
Trevor Bayne
Trevor Bayne is an excellent value pick for this week’s fantasy lineup because he is very moderately priced and he has shown substantial speed up to this point in the weekend.

Bayne qualified for the race in the 15th position and new sponsor for the Roush-Fenway organization, Liberty National, should be looking forward to their company being promoted on such a fast ride.

Bayne is a bit of a surprise pick to do well this weekend, as he has no career top-ten’s in Atlanta.

However, you must be willing to go out on a limb with value picks, and Bayne could pay huge dividends for your team this weekend.

Ryan Blaney
After nearly mounting a last-lap charge to come from nowhere to win the Daytona 500, Blaney did not let the disappointment of falling short in the Great American Race deter him from getting the job done at Atlanta.

Blaney qualified 14th and has seemed determined all weekend long to break through with his first ever MENCS win.

An affordable fantasy pick this week, picking Blaney is a chance worth taking at Atlanta.

SLEEPER
Matt DiBenedetto
DiBenedetto is our sleeper pick for Sunday’s race because he has shown time and time again that he is able to get more out of his car than he probably should.

There is still room in the sport for grit, and being a wheel-man does still count for something, and DiBenedetto checks both of those boxes for sure.

DiBenedetto qualified in the 22nd position for the QuikTrip Folds of Honor 600 and could score a top-twenty or top-ten easily with just a few breaks.

Being so cheap to add to your fantasy lineup, it is a no-brainer to add the fan-favorite DiBenedetto to your team this week.

DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

IMAGE CREDITS:
Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images NASCAR Media Group

Who will finish highest at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday?
No. 4 Kevin Harvick
No. 6 Trevor Bayne
No. 21 Ryan Blaney
No. 32 Matt DiBenedetto
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson
No. 78 Martin Truex Jr.
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