RACE PREVIEW

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KOBALT TOOLS 400

LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

MARCH 6th, 3:30PM CHARLOTTE TIME FOX TV

1.5 MILES 20 Degrees of Banking

I have never missed this race or this weekend.  This has been one of the most fun cities to watch a race in, but in the beginning it wasn’t the most fun race to watch. All of that changed ten years ago the minute the 2006 race ended.  Right after the checkered flag flew workers began to make changes to this track. Garages were bulldozed and the track surface was ripped up, re-banked, and rebuilt. The 12 degrees of banking was replaced with a steeper, faster, and racier 20 degrees of banking. Now the country’s most exciting city might just have one of its most exciting tracks. We have had two great races to kick off the season with Toyota winning at Daytona and Chevy at Atlanta. Roush Fenway used to dominate here with five wins in the first seven races. Since they reconfigured the track Roush has only had two wins in nine races – still pretty good, but not the domination they once had. Chevy has four wins since the track has been redone: Hendrick Motorsports and Stewart Haas Racing each have two of those wins. Ford has three wins, the two Roush Fenway wins plus one for Team Penske. Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing has won twice. Will Chevy or Ford continue their slight lead in most wins or will Toyota catch up? We’ll know on Sunday.

Tuesday look for our Top 10 drivers on Downforce Tracks.

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TOP FIVE DRIVERS

Quik Trip 500 from ATLANTA

My #5 pick is a driver that has never won here, #20 Matt Kenseth. Matt is 0 and 27 here. 27 starts, no wins and ten Top 5’s. More importantly both of his last two starts here were Top 5 finishes. Matt is one of the most consistent drivers here, giving him the #1 highest-average finish over the last seven years.

The #4 is a driver without great stats but should not be overlooked, #22 Joey Logano. Joey has nine starts with just two Top 5’s. But his two Top 5’s were recent – 2013 and last year. Joey and his crew looked great at Daytona and are still hot coming out of 2015.

The #3 driver is the newest team to switch to Toyota, #78 Martin Truex. Martin has 17 starts, no wins and just two Top 5’s. Those Top 5’s came recently in 2012 and 13. Last year he had a 6th place finish. Most importantly he did switch to Toyota and an alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing. That change helped him to come inches away from winning the Daytona 500. It should also get him another Top 5 in Atlanta.

My #2 driver is a former winner here in the A-T-L, #4 Kevin Harvick. Kevin has 25 starts, one win, and six Top 5’s. Kevin doesn’t have the best stats in Atlanta, but he finished 2nd here last year and seven of his last nine races here were Top 10’s. Lastly, he is my #1 ranked intermediate track driver.

My #1 driver is a another former-winner in Atlanta #18 Kyle Busch. Kyle has 17 starts: two wins, and five Top 5’s. He missed this race last year due to his injury the week before at Daytona. His last win came here in 2013 and he is ranked #5 for me on tracks like this. The Joe Gibbs Racing team all did great at Daytona look for that to continue in Atlanta.

 

Monday look for our preview of the Kobolt Tools 400 from Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

TOP 30 DRIVERS:ATLANTA

TOP 30 POWER RANKINGS

QUIK TRIP 500 from ATLANTA

 

  1. KYLE BUSCH #18
  2. KEVIN HARVICK #4
  3. MARTIN TRUEX #78
  4. JOEY LOGANO #22
  5. MATT KENSETH #20
  6. KURT BUSCH #41
  7. JIMMIE JOHNSON #48
  8. CARL EDWARDS #19
  9. DALE EARNHARDT JR #88
  10. RYAN NEWMAN #31
  11. KYLE LARSON #42
  12. DENNY HAMLIN #11
  13. PAUL MENARD #27
  14. KASEY KAHNE #5
  15. BRAD KESELOWSKI #2
  16. ARIC ALMIROLA #43
  17. JAMIE MCMURRAY #1
  18. GREG BIFFLE #16
  19. AUSTIN DILLION #3
  20. REGAN SMITH#7
  21. A. J. ALLMENDINGER #47
  22. DANICA PATRICK #10
  23. TREVOR BAYNE #6
  24. RICKY STENHOUSE #17
  25. CASEY MEARS #13
  26. DAVID RAGAN #23
  27. CLINT BOWYER #15
  28. CHASE ELLIOTT #24
  29. RYAN BLANEY #21
  30. TY DILLION #14

 

Friday we break down the Top 5 drives to watch.

TOP TEN TEAMS

TOP 10 TEAMS POST DAYTONA

  1. JOE GIBBS RACING (LW #2)
  2. TEAM PENSKE (LW #1)
  3. RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING (LW #5)
  4. FURNITURE ROW RACING (LW #4)
  5. CHIP GANASSI RACING (LW #6)

 

  1. STEWART HAAS RACING (LW #7)
  2. HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS (LW #3)
  3. JTG RACING (LW #8)
  4. ROUSH FENWAY RACING (LW #9)
  5. RICHARD PETTY MOTORSPORTS (LW Off)

 

One race into the season Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske.swap spots. Richard Childress Racing move two places to #3. Chip Ganassi Racing advances a place to #5. Stewart Haas Racing also move up a spot. Hendrick Motorsports drop four places coming off a very bad race. The next three are our single car teams. JTG Racing and Roush Fenway stay put this week Germain Racing falls out of the Top 10 and Richard Petty Motorsports debut in the Top 10. Look for this to shake up a little more in the first few weeks of the season.

 

Thursday look for our Top 30 drivers for the Quik Trip 500.

TOP DRIVERS by TRACK TYPE

TOP 10: INTERMEDIATE TRACKS

  1. KEVIN HARVICK #4
  2. JOEY LOGANO #22
  3. JIMMIE JOHNSON #48
  4. CARL EDWARDS #19
  5. KYLE BUSCH #18
  6. MATT KENSETH #20
  7. DEAR EARNHARDT JR. #88
  8. MARTIN TRUEX #78
  9. RYAN NEWMAN #31
  10. BRAD KESELOWSKI #2

Top 10 drivers on Intermediate tracks, Wednesday look for our Top 10 Teams and Thursday look for our Top 30 driver rankings for Sunday’s QUIK TRIP 500 from Atlanta Motor Speedway.

RACE PREVIEW

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QUIK TRIP 500

ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY

February 28th, 1:00PM ET on FOX TV

1.54 Miles 24 Degrees of Banking

Atlanta is the fastest and probably the #1 favorite track amongst the drivers to drive on. Great sweeping turns and a smooth surface are two of the main reasons. At 1.54 miles, it is a tad bigger than the many other “cookie cutter tracks.” But the date for this race has seen many changes over the years. For the second year it is the second race of the year, or really the first “real race.” Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing are the two most dominate teams here in the last 10 years. In the 15 races run, HMS and JGR each have five wins. Note too that each team has three wins in the last six years. No question these two teams dominate this track. Who will get the first non-restrictor plate win of the year? We’ll find out on Sunday.

Tuesday look for our Top 10 drivers on intermediate tracks for week two.  Thursday we rank the top 30 drivers for the QUIK TRIP 500.

TOP FIVE DRIVERS

Top 5 Drivers to Watch:Daytona 500

 

My #5 driver knows his way around a plate track, #2 Kevin Harvick. Kevin has 29 starts, two wins and eight Top 5’s. Two of those top 5’s came here last year. He is #4 rated on restrictor place tracks. He ended the year last year #2 hottest, I look for the heat to continue.

 

My #4 pick had to sit out last years race, #41 Kurt Busch. Kurt is my #8 rated restrictor plate driver and he has 29 starts, no wins and 12 Top 5’s. His last two races here were Top 5’s. Kurt had to sit out the start of 2015 but he did finish the year in the Top 10, look for a great start for Kurt in 2016.

 

My #3 driver to watch was the big winner Saturday night in the Sprint Unlimited, #11 Denny Hamlin. Denny has no points wins but in his 20 starts he has five Top 5 finishes. Denny has finished 6th or better in his last four points races and is my #7 ranked plate track driver.

 

The #2 driver is a former-winner here at Daytona, #48 Jimmie Johnson. Jimmie has 28 starts, with three wins and 11 Top 5’s. He finished 2nd in the July race last year. He is #3 hottest coming off a strong end of last year. His team Hendrick Motorsports, are no strangers to success here at Daytona. And speaking of HMS…

 

My #1 pick is a four-time former-winner , #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Dale has 32 starts, four wins, and 13 Top 5’s. Dale is my #1 rated restrictor plate racer. His last points’ win came in the July race last year and his most recent non-points win came in the first duel race last night. Current success plus knowing he has the #1 best average finish means you should look for Dale Jr. dominance to continue.

 

Monday look for our preview of the Quik Trip 500 from Atlanta.