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Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Picks

Atlanta Motor Speedway – 325 laps / 500 miles

The past four races here have been dominated by two drivers: Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski.  This is a worn-down track, which the drivers love, but that means track position is more important than ever.  Tires are huge here and much like every other 1.5-mile track, whoever has the best pit strategy will take the checkered flag.  Martin Truex Jr. blew it last night in the Xfinity Series race due to a late-race speeding penalty.  I wouldn’t be shocked to see someone beat themselves today in similar fashion.  Let’s get into my picks:

Winner/Top 3:

William Byron (+1200/+450):  Am I a little biased? Yes.  But, that’s ok.  How am I biased? Check out next week’s podcast to see why.  He has only raced here three times with a best finish of 17th.  However, he already has a win this season on a similar track and Hendrick Motorsports is the hottest team in racing.  He’ll be competitive today at the least.

Matchups:

Tail Byron:  Am I a little biased? Yes.  We’re tailing instead of fading this week.  William has finished 8th, 8th, and 1st in the only intermediate tacks this season.  He’s trending up and seems to be getting better every week.  He more or less started the #FadeTrain and every once in a while respects must be paid.  He also has the 6th pit stall today, with an easy entry due to the 7th pit stall being vacant, and he is starting inside the top 10.  Time to go all in on Byron this week.

William Byron over Joey Logano (+115):  Logano only has two top 5s in his fourteen career races here.  He has an average finish of 13 in recent races at this track, and Penske doesn’t seem to have their 1.5-mile package figured out.  They look great on the short-run but fall of in the long-run.  To top it off, I would expect Keselowski to be the guy on Team Penske this week.

William Byron over Kyle Busch (+130):  I hate Kyle Busch and I hate even more that he is known as “Rowdy”.  He’s coming off a third-place finish at the most recent 1.5-mile track of Vegas, but finished last week 25th, and 10th at Homestead – where Byron won.  He has the 29th pit stall and is starting in the 19th position.

William Byron over Ryan Blaney (+115):  Ryan Blaney is the antithesis of Kyle Busch here; I’m a big fan.  He actually is trending in the right direction with back-to-back top 10s after a slow start to the season.  However, Keselowski is the Penske guy today.  In only five career races here, Blaney finishes on average 16.20.  Looking back to Homestead, which to me is a good indicator for other 1.5-mile tracks, he finished 29th.

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Dixie Vodka 400 Picks

Homestead – Miami Speedway – 267 laps / 400 miles

Winners/Top 3 Finishers:

Kyle Larson (+700): Larson has never won at Homestead. He was having a great race his last outing here until a blown engine caused a DNF. His last five races at Homestead resulted in: DNF, 13th, 2nd, and 5th. He also has the sixth best driver rating out of all active drivers at this track. +700 odds isn’t spectacular value, but like I said last week, this guy is too good to not win one sooner rather than later (please be sooner because I can’t bet on you every week).

Matchups:

I had three potential fades this week: Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, or Chase Elliott. I only pick plus money on matchups because I don’t think there is any value in matchup favorites. With Bowman and Ku. Busch being the 10th and 15th favorites to win, respectively, finding any good plus money against them is just about impossible. That leaves me to fade the second-favorite-to-win Chase Elliott.

Fade Elliott: Chase has a pretty good track record at Homestead (pun), but his overall track record on 1.5-mile tracks is not great. In fact, everyone in the top 10 of odds-to-win today, besides Bowman, have a better average finish and driver rating than Elliott at 1.5 mile tracks. Like I’ve said on Twitter, I put a ton of weight into lineup position and pit stall position. Elliott has a sub-par pit stall of 21, and is starting 11th in the lineup today.

Kevin Harvick over Chase Elliott (+125): Kevin Harvick is starting 4th in the lineup and has a favorable pit stall of 14. In the past three races at Homestead, Harvick has a better driver rating (106.7 to Elliott’s 96.8) and has two top 5 finishes to Elliot’s one. While Elliott has a better average finishing position than Harvick, the driver rating difference suggests some bad luck may be the cause of Harvick’s lower finishing position. On a track where pit strategy is key, I’ll take Harvick and his team over Elliott any day.

Martin Truex Jr. over Chase Elliott (+130): Martin Truex Jr. is starting 9th in the lineup but has a pit stall of 29. Truex’s driver rating of 112.9 is favorable to Elliott’s and he has an average finish of 5.33 in the last three races here while Elliott has an average finish of 8. He has also led 123 laps compared to Elliott’s 27. A win for Truex is well overdue and he is the king of 1.5-mile tracks, so the value of +130 is incredible.

Kyle Larson over Chase Elliott (+110): Kyle Larson has a favorable pit stall of 16 but is starting 17th in the lineup. Let’s not forget Larson was out of the Cup Series last season, and his last race at Homestead resulted in a DNF after engine failure, which really hurts his average finishing position. With that aside, he has the sixth best driver rating here and is currently running the best equipment of his career being a part of Hendrick Motorsports. I expect Larson to be the best Hendrick driver today.