NASCAR Odds & Liev Jackson Picks: Folds of Honor is the name of This Week’s Race in Atlanta

by Liev Jackson

NASCAR Odds & Liev Jackson Picks: Folds of Honor is the name of This Week’s Race in Atlanta

With the most dramatic finish in Daytona 500 history still fresh in everyone’s mind, will Atlanta serve up a fitting encore?

Last week Denny Hamlin won his first Daytona on the strength of a final lap that will be remembered for as long as there is Nascar racing. From the fourth position he split right between Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr. to inch into the lead. From there it was peddle to the metal as Hamlin won the race over Truex Jr. by one-one-hundredth of a second.

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The overall theme of the weekend was the continued dominance of Joe Gibbs Racing as Hamlin was the winner, Kyle Busch the defending Sprint champ took third and while Matt Kenseth finished 14th, he also led for 40 laps before fading on the last lap -second most in the field behind Hamlin.

So will they be able to keep the momentum going this weekend?

They are not off to the greatest start as Busch was disqualified after clinching the pole position after he failed his race inspection. He will start the race from the back of the pack. Hamlin starts 12th and Kenseth is right behind him at 13.

The fastest qualifying times have all come from the Chevys and Fords. Kurt Busch racing for Haas leads the way and Jamie McMurray going for McDonald’s is in second. The top five qualifiers are rounded out by Trevor Bayne, Ryan Newman and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

This is the first race on the season to institute the new low-downforce aero package that changes how the cars drive. The idea is to create a more entertaining race that puts more control in the hands of the drivers and less in the hands of the crew and car.

The teams raced with it twice last year, but expect that more seasoned drivers will have an advantage this weekend.

The defending champion is Jimmie Johnson who is also a three time winner. He has proven to be one of the best on 1.5 mile tracks, thus he remains one of the favorites at 13/2. He is starting out of the 19th position.

If Johnson has an equal at 1.5 miles it is Kevin Harvick who seems to accumulate top five finishes on these kinds of tracks like it is no big deal. Thus he is the race favorite at 9/2.

McMurray has surprised with his front row start, so he makes for a tantalizing upset pick with 50/1 odds.

Of the rest of the lead competitors Dale Earnhardt Jr. at 12/1 is another intriguing pick as he looked so good in practice in the lead up to Daytona before flaming out on the track. He was one of several drivers who couldn’t deal with the handling of the car in the restricted plate race. But he was a third place finisher here last year after starting ninth. This year he starts 16th.

Martin Truex Jr. will start from the ninth spot this week and you have to bet he is eager to put last week’s heartbreaker behind him.

The Picks:

Favorites: Truex Jr.

Upset: McMurray

Kevin Harvick #4   +475
Denny Hamlin #11   +575
Joey Logano #22   +650
Kyle Busch #18   +700
Jimmie Johnson #48   +725
Matt Kenseth #20   +875
Brad Keselowski #2   +950
Carl Edwards #19   +1000
Kurt Busch #41   +1100
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. #88   +1500
Martin Truex, Jr. #78   +1600
Kyle Larson #42   +1900
Kasey Kahne #5   +2500
Jamie McMurray #1   +2800
Chase Elliott #24   +4000
Austin Dillon #3   +5000
Ryan Newman #31   +6600
Ryan Blaney #21   +7500
Clint Bowyer #15   +8000

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