I am going to play the “NAS $400K Piston[$100K to 1st]” contest on DraftKings.com under the name IndyJones. The game pays $100,000 to the winner and pays through the top-9,880 places. It comes with a $10 entry fee.
Each driver is given a dollar value with each participant being allotted a budget of $50,000 to purchase six drivers.
Following last week’s complete debacle in which four of my drivers were swept up in the Big One at Daytona, I have revamped my lineup for the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. As can be seen, I am banking heavily on a Hendrick Motorsports resurgence with the new rules package in place. Keep in mind that this will be the first time in which the cars’ engines will be fitted with the horsepower robbing tapered spacers(the new aero ducts will not be utilized at AMS).
Here are the six drivers I chose and why:
Chase Elliott($9,700) – While the Hendrick Motorsports driver racing near his hometown does come with a high price tag, he is still relatively cheap compared to Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. Although he only has three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts in Atlanta, Elliott has a very strong average finishing position of 7th having scored top-10 results in each of his three races there. In his last three starts on 1.5-mile tracks in 2018, the driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet scored finishes of 1st, 6th and 7th. He was 10th in Atlanta last year after starting 27th. This is my pick for the win on Sunday.
Kyle Larson($9,300) – The No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing team seemed to be building some momentum near the end of the 2018 campaign as they scored three top-5 finishes in the final five races, including a 3rd on the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway. In five career Cup starts in Atlanta the California native has one top-5 and three top-10 finishes. He finished 9th last year in the Peach State after qualifying 8th fastest. In five Xfinity Series starts at AMS, Larson never finished worse than 10th.
Jimmie Johnson($8,300) – There is definitely some doubt that comes along with this pick as Johnson comes off his worst season as a Cup driver and having a new crew chief sitting atop the pit box. However, the price seems worth the risk for this weekend. The seven-time champion has five wins, 14 top-5s, and 16 top-10s during his career at AMS. The No. 48 HMS Chevrolet’s average finish is an 11th in the ATL over 27 career starts.
Erik Jones($8,100) – Like the Hendrick drivers I have selected, I believe this is another pick in which the resources and depth of organization will be beneficial coming into a race in which one of the major variables has changed. The Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driver has only made two Cup Series starts in Atlanta but has an average finish of 12.5 with an 11th being his final result in 2018 at the 1.5-mile facility. Jones scored a 3rd in Xfinity competition here in 2016.
William Byron($7,100) – The young Hendrick driver only has one Cup Series start in Atlanta which resulted in an 18th place finish last season. He did have a 7th place in the Xfinity race here in 2017. However, the primary reason for picking the No. 24 Chevrolet, aside from price, is the fact that he has Chad Knaus calling the shots on the pit box. A look at Knaus’s record with Jimmie Johnson shows that he knows how to set a car up for Atlanta. And with all the uncertainty of big-pack drafting at Daytona in the rear view mirror, Knuas will have greater control of his young driver’s fate on tracks such as this.
Ryan Newman($6,900) – Newman is my only holdover from last week, and again, the primary reason is that he was the best option in the price range I had remaining. The Purdue graduate has two top-5 and nine top-10 results on his resume from Atlanta. Of course, he is with a new team in Roush-Fenway Racing but the No. 6 Ford was able to get through the carnage of last week with a 14th place finish.
*This is not an endorsement of gambling nor should these picks be used for your own gambling purposes.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association
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