NASCAR: Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 preview, picks

Start your engines! Photo via: Wiki Commons.

The NASCAR Cup Series heads to the Atlanta Superspeedway and its new configuration for the Folds Of Honor QuickTrip 500. The track’s banking is much wider and the front stretch has been completely revamped. After some test runs, Cup Series regulars Chris Buescher and Ross Chastain described the new track layout akin to a mile and a half version of Daytona International Speedway. An interesting caveat to this race we’re hearing is the similarities to pack races we see at larger tracks, like Talladega. This is uncommon with smaller tracks, such as Atlanta. We are in for quite the unknown on how this will play out come Sunday when the green flag drops. The race will also feature the yellow line rule we see on those tracks as well, it will be important for drivers to stay on the racing surface when passing.

Last week, Chase Briscoe went on to capture his first career victory at Phoenix Raceway. Briscoe made the race-winning pass on Ryan Blaney with 14 laps remaining and never looked back en route to the victory. Throughout the course of the season, Briscoe has been showing great signs of improvement from his rookie season, and It was only a matter of time before he would get his first victory.

For the past couple of seasons, I’ve had high praise for California driver Tyler Reddick. He continues to impress week in and week out, and last week’s third-place effort was no different. Each race, he just gets closer and closer to that elusive first victory. Over the past four races, no one has led as many laps and if it wasn’t for a flat tire, there is no doubt that he would have won at California. It has been a thrill to follow his improvement from his rookie season to now. All he needs is a clean race and much like Briscoe, he will get that first career victory.

While Briscoe and Reddick are in the midst of a hot streak, on the opposite end of the spectrum lies Austin Cindric. It’s been rough sledding for the rookie after his surprise victory at Daytona. He’s been in a bit of a slump with multiple accidents at Auto-Club and Las Vegas and a poor 24th place finish at Phoenix. There could be a multitude of reasons for this, including his inexperience and this new racecar. On a positive note, they have shown how fast they are on superspeedways, so Atlanta can be a chance to turn it around for the #2 team

While there have been so many impressive showings from the new drivers, in the end, the cream always finds a way to the top and the familiar faces usually come out ahead. This week will be no different as the driver I have winning is Kevin Harvick. Last season was quite possibly his most disappointing as he failed to win a race for the first time during his tenure at Stewart-Haas racing. At first, Harvick and his team were considered the championship favorite, but in the end, 2021 just was not their year, and now they are coming back with a vengeance. After an impressive sixth-place finish last week in Phoenix, this team seems to be on a much more consistent path and closer to a victory. And what better place to go back to victory lane than the track where he got his first win. Look for Harvick to continue to build off his teammate’s victory with a win of his own come Sunday.

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