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Quaker State 400
3:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Will a shorter race at Atlanta change the racing dynamic?
Sunday’s race at Atlanta is the first race scheduled for less than 500 miles since the 37th race of the 1966 season. It’s also the second race at Atlanta this season. Atlanta hasn’t had two races in a season since 2010, when Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart won the two races at the track.
It’s also the final race on the current configuration at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The track announced Tuesday that it would be raising the banking in the corners and narrowing the track surface in an effort to change the racing after it gets repaved following the race. If NASCAR’s iRacing tease of the promised racing is any indication, the track and sanctioning body want the new Atlanta to be a mini Daytona or Talladega.
That’s a departure from the current racing at Atlanta. The track’s multiple grooves and worn-out pavement lead to racing that gets spread out at times. The track known for famous finishes in the first decade of the 2000s has become, well, rather boring. While Ryan Blaney ran down Kyle Larson earlier this year, there hasn’t been much action at Atlanta over the last few seasons.
Truthfully, it’s hard to see that trend reversing on Sunday unless the shorter race distance really livens things up. Drivers have a ton of downforce and car control so cars don’t spin out all that often. And tire wear combined with dirty air means passing isn’t exactly prevalent.
Sorry to be a downer. Hopefully we’re wrong. Here’s a look at what you need to know to bet the race. Odds are via BetMGM.
Kyle Larson (+225)
Kyle Busch (+750)
Chase Elliott (+800)
Kevin Harvick (+900)
Denny Hamlin (+1000)
Martin Truex Jr. (+1000)
Ryan Blaney (+1000)
It’s not surprising that Larson is the massive favorite entering the race. He dominated in March and has been the fastest driver on intermediate tracks. Busch is a slightly surprising second favorite. We figured Elliott would occupy that spot. Harvick is at No. 4 because of his prowess at Atlanta and his recent run. While he’s led less than 40 laps this year, he hasn’t finished outside the top 10 at an intermediate track since Las Vegas in March.
Good mid-tier value
William Byron (+1200)
Alex Bowman (+1400)
There’s a void in the odds this weekend. There are 11 drivers at +1400 or better and then Christopher Bell slots in at No. 12 at +3300. With that chasm in mind, we’re going with the drivers listed as the Nos. 10 and 11 favorites. Byron and Bowman drive for the fastest team in the Cup Series and are set to have solid runs at Atlanta on Sunday.
Don't bet this driver
Austin Dillon (+5000)
This isn’t a knock against Dillon in the slightest. He’s been fantastically consistent throughout the season and should have another solid run at Atlanta. It’s just hard to see him having close to race-winning speed.
Looking for a long shot?
Ross Chastain (+10000)
There’s nothing that sticks out to us as a long shot this weekend so we’re rolling with Chastain. He’s shown some speed in recent weeks.
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