There are only two races left before the start of the Chase this season and the last two spots still aren’t decided yet. We have twelve spots filled by drivers with wins this season and Matt Kenseth has to basically start the next two races and not finish in last place to secure his spot. We could get two new winners in the next couple of races and that would eliminate two spots on points if it happens. All I know is that it could be two wild weeks at the track.
ORAL-B USA 500
This week the series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the running of the Oral-B USA 500. Atlanta is a 1.54-mile quad-oval track, which makes it similar to most other intermediate tracks on the circuit. I predict that a new qualifying record will be set once again this weekend if the weather cooperates. The race will be held on Sunday evening as it is Labor Day weekend. Tires and engines will be tested to their limits in this 500-mile race.
Kevin Harvick: Kevin won the first race he ever ran in the Sprint Cup series at this track back in 2001, when he took over for the late Dale Earnhardt. That is the only race he has run at this track, but the way he has run every week, I look for him to qualify and run well here once again this weekend. He is my pick to win his third race of the season and move into a tie with five other drivers for most wins on the year.
Jeff Gordon: Jeff is a five-time winner at Atlanta and after his win at Michigan a couple of weeks ago has shown that he is a serious contender at all types of tracks this year. Jeff has finished in the top ten in twenty-six of his forty starts at this track, and that tells me he is very consistent here. You will want him on your fantasy team this week.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Dale has had a disappointing finish last week at Bristol after getting caught up in an accident that was no fault of his own. This team has been bringing it every week and on all types of tracks this season and this weekend will be no different. I think that Dale and Steve Latarte are on the same page and Steve makes the right adjustments during the race to fit Dale’s style of driving. They can win the championship this year.
Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie has been improving over the past few weeks and this will be a huge test for this team. This week will let them know if they have their setup correct so they don’t blow tires. That issue needs to be taken care of before the start of the Chase if they want to repeat as champions. Jimmie has three wins here and has finished in the top ten in more than half of his starts here also.
Kasey Kahne: Kasey has two career wins at Atlanta and his best chance of making the Chase is to pick up a win in the next two weeks. Kasey runs well at this track and he always seems to run well at night, so both factors are in his favor this weekend. All of the Hendrick teams run well at this track on a consistent basis so you can’t really go wrong with using as many of them as you can in your league this weekend.
Carl Edwards: Carl has won three races at this track and has finished in the top five in eight of his sixteen starts here. The real problem here is that the Roush/Fenway teams have not had the speed on this type of track for much of the season. Carl wound up two laps down at Michigan a couple of weeks ago partly due to speed and the other part pit road penalties.
Joey Logano: Joey finished second in this race last year and the way the Penske teams have shown speed on this type of track this season, he is another good pick for this weekend. Even though the Penske teams run the same motors as the Roush/Fenway teams they have found something aerodynamically that makes them contenders on these tracks. I look for both of the Penske drivers to qualify towards the front of the field and run there for much of the race.
Brad Keselowski: Brad is the other Penske driver and will have a fast car himself once again this weekend. Brad was a little disappointed at Michigan a couple of weeks ago, because he really wanted to win that race in his home state. He can change that disappointment into another celebration with his fourth win of the season this weekend in Atlanta.
Matt Kenseth: Although Matt has never won a race at Atlanta and hasn’t won a race yet this season, this team will be in the Chase and can go on a roll at any time. Matt has finished in the top ten here in fourteen of his twenty-five starts and would love to pick up his first win of the year before the Chase starts. This team looked good at Bristol last weekend and just needs to make the right adjustments during the races on the intermediate tracks.
Kurt Busch: Kurt has quietly been running very well over the past month at all types of tracks. This team will be dangerous once the Chase starts, because I think they are still experimenting a little bit and will be even better once the Chase starts. They might just pull out all of the stops over the next two weeks to see what they really have and it could be enough to win a couple of more races this season.
YAHOO! FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Yahoo Driver Group A
- Kevin Harvick
- Jeff Gordon
Yahoo Driver Group B
- Joey Logano
- Brad Keselowski
- AJ Allmendinger
- Brian Vickers
Yahoo Driver Group C
- Kyle Larson
- Austin Dillon
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY
- Kevin Harvick
- Jeff Gordon
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Jimmie Johnson
- Joey Logano
Dark Horse: AJ Allmendinger
Stay Away From: Carl Edwards