Quick Trip Folds of Honor 500 preview
The Monster Energy Cup Series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Folds Of Honor Quiktrip 500.
Since 2015, this track has played host to the second race of the season and after all the smoke cleared last week at Daytona, these drivers will now face a new challenge. As mentioned last week, the sport will be using a new rules package here at Atlanta which has caused much intrigue among spectators and drivers alike. There have been many questions regarding this such as, Will there be pack racing like we saw at Daytona? Will the cars be tremendously slower than they have been? How will it effect the drivers ability to pass? All of these questions should be answered come first practice on Friday when the drivers go out and get a feel for the new set-ups.
Last Week Denny Hamlin captured his second Daytona 500 victory. It was a sentimental win for him and his owner Joe Gibbs after the loss of Joe's son JD. Over the course of the team's history, JD was a major part of the team and its success. His career in racing began in 1998 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He found most of his success when he left racing to become the president of the team in 2007 as his dad went back to coaching the Redskins. Over the years following JD would help shape one of NASCAR's most prestigious teams, in fact Hamlin was quoted in a Racingnews.CO article by Shane Walters as saying "JD was instrumental in bringing me to JGR. He is essentially the reason I got hired." Not only was the win huge for Denny but for the whole company as well. When the checkered flag flew, Joe Gibbs Racing finished 1-2-3 with Kyle Busch and Erik Jones finishing second and third. At the end of the day, I am sure somewhere JD was looking down and smiling ear to ear.
Another big story-line was the dispute between Joey Logano and Michael McDowell. In the closing laps, Logano appeared to have a big run on the leader and needed drafting help from McDowell. After the race Joey assumed that because both drivers drove for Ford, McDowell and his Front Row Racing team would be willing to help him win but instead McDowell chose to draft with Kyle Busch instead. When confronted McDowell replied "My team doesn't pay me to push Joey Logano to a win." Overall, what McDowell was saying makes a lot of sense for a team that does nothing for Front Row Motorsports why should McDowell and his team do anything for Logano? Over time NASCAR drivers have become more vocal about things like this and while this isn't anything new, Joey was wrong to go and confront McDowell for something he would have probably done if roles were reversed. I wish McDowell luck this season in his situation because I think that he is a good race-car driver and I commend him on not caving to Logano and the Penske elites.
The favorite coming into this week's race at Atlanta has to be Kevin Harvick. He enters this race at 4/1 odds of winning on Sunday and he also holds the third highest average finishing position here. Despite last week's disappointing 26th place finish, this is a track where Harvick absolutely shines. Another good reason is that Harvick is the only driver who won in anything remotely close to the aero package they are running on Sunday, Harvick won last year's famous All-star race. He should be tough to beat come Sunday. It should be quite the race as no one really knows what we are going to see but overall it will be intriguing to watch.
(All stats and information used in this article is brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com the best website for all NASCAR stats).