By Jerry Jordan, Editor
Heading into this weekend’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, I have to quote Denny Hamlin, “It is so hard to win in the Cup Series.” That is an established fact and everyone – myself included – who is trying to pick the right driver to wager a bet on for the win each week has a very difficult task even if my record of picking a winner this season stands at one in five.
No matter how much you break down the odds, look at trends and study on-track performance – if there is any – leading up to the race, winning ain’t easy! And this week, things are really crazy because even the oddsmakers at WynnBET Sportsbook aren’t sure who will have you making a trip to the payout window.
If you look at the odds, Chase Elliott was at +550 earlier in the week and now he is at +1000. That is nearly double his opening odds. Bubba Wallace was at +12500 and now he starts the race at a paltry +1400. That’s a huge swing. I guess when the oddsmakers posted lines on Wednesday, they forgot Atlanta Motor Speedway was transformed into a shortened superspeedway from an intermediate track.
With qualifying rained out and no practice, the field was set per the NASCAR rulebook, so we don’t even know who is fast. That makes picking three drivers who can potentially win a total crapshoot at this point. So, all I can do is go back and look at the results from the race in March and roll the dice.
The one thing I can say is that William Byron was fast, led 111 laps and won the race in the inaugural running of the new Atlanta configuration. And reviewing his odds at +1200, I am going to go with him as my favorite to make a return trip to Victory Lane. Most likely, the team has studied everything they learned from their first outing and it wouldn’t surprise me if Team Hendrick brought back the winning car. Byron rolls off the grid in 13th and is trying to be the first driver since Jimmie Johnson in 2007 to sweep both Atlanta races.
For my mid-tier or value bet as I call it each week, I am going with Joey Logano. Yes, I realize that his odds are +1300 but in reality, those should be mid-tier odds. I can’t help the oddsmakers overlooking Byron’s potential for a repeat. I picked Logano for a few reasons, he is good on superspeedways if he can stay out of trouble, he finished ninth here in the spring, his odds are appealing and he won the Atlanta Motor Speedway Peach Dash or, at least, his peach won.
It’s too much to go into but basically, representatives from AMS poured a bushel basket of numbered peaches down the banking and Joey’s number finished first. You can see it here but remember AMS is now a superspeedway and we’ve all seen the chaos that can happen, so really anyone could win.
With that thought in mind, I am picking Brad Keselowski as my longshot driver to win this week. I talked to him earlier in the week about his season, his goals as a driver and team owner and I even tried to get him to evaluate and grade Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing to this point in the season. He declined. But he wants a win and we have seen him out front at superspeedways in the past.
In March, Keselowski finished 12th and comes into the race with a nice potential for payout at +3300 odds. He and his teammate, Chris Buescher, did win the opening races at Daytona Superspeedway earlier this year, so don’t be shocked if he drives the No. 6 to Victory Lane. I won’t be.
That’s going to do it for this week. Best of luck to everyone taking a chance with their hard-earned money. If you have a driver that you think has a better shot, tweet it to me at @JerryJordan_KTT and I will give you a shoutout.
Remember, my suggestions are based on what I see at the track and from past performances by drivers. It’s called gambling for a reason and there is no guarantee the drivers I pick will end up in victory lane. If you can’t afford to bet, then don’t. And if you aren’t 21 years of age, you cannot legally gamble, so don’t even think about it. Should you have a problem with sports betting or other forms of gaming, you can get help at 1-800-GAMBLER.
Atlanta Motor Speedway Odds – Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart
|DRIVERS||EARLY ODDS||RACE DAY ODDS|
|Martin Truex Jr||+1400||+2000|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||+40000||+3500|
|Corey LaJoie||+100000||No Odds|
|Ty Dillon||No Odds||+15000|
|Landon Cassill||No Odds||No Odds|
|Garrett Smithley||No Odds||+50000|
|Noah Gragson||No Odds||+25000|