NASCAR Betting Guide: Quaker State 400
The re-configured Atlanta Motor Speedway is kind of a drafting oval like a hot dog is kind of a sandwich.
While the cars are configured in tight packs like a drafting oval, the "big one" hasn't really been a mainstay. At Daytona and Talladega this season, 17.0 cars on average were off pace or out due to crash damage. Only eight cars fit that description in Atlanta.
Leading and running up front also appear to be far more predictive based on speed. Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski combined to lead 187 of 260 laps from the Ford camp in March's event.
That said, the Quaker State 400 betting odds at FanDuel Sportsbook are fairly wide for a reason. It's tough to say at this point who will emerge, but Logano and Keselowski qualified in the top-four spots earlier this year, and the polesitter has won consecutive events here.
Our job today is to guess who that dominant car or team could be this weekend.
Ross Chastain to Win (+1600)
If there's a driver among the elite profiles undervalued at these current odds, it's Ross Chastain (+1600).
Of course, Trackhouse Racing is on top of the Cup Series at the moment with Chastain's win two weeks ago at Nashville followed by Shane Van Gisbergen's won-and-done effort in Chicago on Sunday. Momentum alone is nice, but Chastain's overall ability at this track has come to fruition in all three races on this configuration.
Chastain finished second in both races here last year, and he led five laps at the front before triggering the huge accident in March's race. He never rebounded from having to pit after that, and while Chastain not bumping into other cars is a concern baked into this number, perhaps the calmed-down version we saw at Nashville helps in that department.
Above all, in my adjusted blend of median lap times from Daytona, Talladega, and Atlanta this year, Chastain is tied with Joey Logano (+1200) for the best average ranking (10.5) among the field. He also won at Talladega last April.
He's got a lightning-quick car with a positive track history here, but his odds sit behind lesser median times and histories.
Corey Lajoie to Finish Top 3 (+850)
Corey Lajoie to Win (+3000)
The one similarity of the new Atlanta configuration to drafting ovals is the ability for lesser equipment to compete. Corey Lajoie (+3000) has proved that.
Lajoie finished fifth last March, and he scored a fourth-place finish this March. The one "exception" was actually his best effort. Chase Elliott (+1100) put Lajoie into the wall on the final lap to deny him his first Cup Series win. If there's a track where he can still score that elusive victory, this one has to be at the top of the list.
Don't get me wrong; Lajoie's car has been super fast during this time, too. In the modern aero package in March, Lajoie posted the third-best median lap time (30.35 seconds). He also posted the 11th-best median time at Talladega, and a crash-damage result in this year's Daytona 500 shouldn't be held against him.
Spire Motorsports is an underdog each week at the track, but they're fully aware Lajoie's drafting prowess and the general equality of speed gives them a chance here above all other places. These numbers are far too distant for a driver that's speed and results rank among the best in the field.
Chevrolet to Win (+120)
It's a bit unnerving to target Chevrolet to Win (+120) when Ford (+130) was so dominant here in the spring, but their standing as a slight favorite should be our first clue.
In addition to Chastain and Lajoie, Kyle Busch (+1000) and Chase Elliott are the betting favorites to win overall. Busch won at Talladega in April and posted the fourth-best median time here at Atlanta in March. I've got no qualms with anyone that wants to make him the favorite.
Elliott missed this event in the spring, but he's the defending winner at this event, and teammate William Byron (+1600) was the winner of the inaugural event on this configuration.
Ford's run in March might have been a bit fluky. Median lap times -- which I'll admit aren't the end-all or be-all at drafting ovals -- favored Chevrolet. They held 5 of the top-10 median laps within their camp, including Daytona 500 winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+2500) as a name not mentioned yet.
Surprisingly, four Toyotas joined them, and only Logano's Ford -- which won the race -- cracked the top 10. Chevrolet's speed was better than the results they showed in March, so instead of backing Logano and Keselowski's dominant one-race sample, we might want to lean toward a bowtie emerging on Sunday.