Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500
Yahoo: Top 30 Drivers
Yahoo / Fox / NASCAR: Quick Picks
Last weekend's Daytona 500 delivered the carnage and excitement we have come to expect from the season opener, but any driver or crew chief will tell you that the season really begins after Daytona.
Despite its status as NASCAR's biggest race, the Daytona 500 is a terrible indicator of what to expect from the season as a whole. Thanks to the restrictor-plate bunching up the field and causing wreck after wreck, we still have no idea which drivers are going to be fast on weekly basis.
Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway will be the first true test for race teams and the first real chance for fantasy owners to start to judge the drivers. Every year there are rule changes, and this year, even the format of the races is different. The changes always benefit some drivers more than others, and we will start to find out Sunday at AMS who the early winners and losers are going to be.
Given the uncertainty heading into Sunday's race, I always like to play it safe and load up my Yahoo lineup with big names. While some drivers will finish in the Top 10 one week and outside the Top 20 the next, there is that exclusive group of elite drivers who usually end up in the Top 15, regardless of whether they have their best stuff.
The 2017 season is still a clean slate, so I'm hesitant to take chances on the mid-pack drivers and sleepers whose results tend to fluctuate wildly. Instead, I'm going to target drivers with a consistently high floor and a proven history of success at Atlanta this weekend.
1. KEVIN HARVICK, #4 JIMMY JOHNS, STEWART-HAAS RACING [YAHOO CLASS A]
Over the last five races at Atlanta, Harvick's four Top 10s are tied for the most of any driver, and his 8.2 average finish ranks third. He has also led more than 100 laps four times in that span, leading 381 more laps than any other driver. Expect him to show up with a car capable of challenging for the win Sunday.
2. JIMMIE JOHNSON, #48 LOWE'S/KOBALT TOOLS, HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS [YAHOO CLASS A]
Johnson has always run well at Atlanta, and he actually seems to be getting better. He has won back-to-back races at the track, and for his career, he has five wins to go along with a 10.7 average finish.
3. KYLE BUSCH, #18 M&M'S, JOE GIBBS RACING [YAHOO CLASS A]
He missed the 2015 race while recovering from a broken leg, but Busch returned with a bang last year, finishing third. He also won here in 2013, and he has compiled a series-leading 6.5 average finish at AMS since 2012.
4. JOEY LOGANO, #22 SHELL-PENNZOIL, TEAM PENSKE [YAHOO CLASS A]
Logano has been locked in at Atlanta since joining Team Penske. He has four straight Top 15s at the track, including a second-place run in 2013 and a fourth-place run in 2015. He should be a Top 5 option again this weekend.
5. MARTIN TRUEX, JR., #78 FURNITURE ROW, FURNITURE ROW RACING [YAHOO CLASS B]
He was the most dominant driver in the series at 1.5-mile tracks last year, and Truex has always been reliable at Atlanta. He has finished seventh or better in four of his last five starts here, and his 8.6 average finish in that stretch ranks fifth in the series.