We are now five races into the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season, and after a series of odd winners, things have started to get back to normal. We saw our first true regular, Martin Truex Jr., take the checkered flag at Phoenix Raceway last week. I suspect that we’ll see another regular win this race, too. Here are the top NASCAR betting picks for Sunday’s event at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Isaiah’s NASCAR Betting Picks: Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta
After a 2-1 showing at Phoenix, Isaiah’s best bets are 8-7 (+4.1u) on the season.
#1. Top 10: Kurt Busch (-120 at DK Sportsbook)
I believe that there is a ton of betting value on Kurt Busch this weekend, so I’ve expanded this section to include four bets so that I can feature him twice. Atlanta Motor Speedway’s well-worn track surface rewards the sport’s most experienced and talented drivers, and Kurt Busch falls into both of those categories.
The elder Busch brother has the fifth-best driver rating over the last three Atlanta races, and he finished inside the top 10 in those three events. He is tied with Kevin Harvick for the most career wins (3) and top 10s (15) at this track, although he has a higher top-10 rate (51.7%) than Harvick (50%).
There is another upshot to taking Kurt Busch this weekend — his recent form. Busch already has two top 10s this season, at the Daytona Road Course and Homestead. While he may not have the raw speed necessary to be a favorite here, he has always overperformed his equipment at Atlanta. In 2013, he finished 13th for Phoenix Racing; in 2014, he finished fourth for Furniture Row (before its alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing). If we exclude that start for Phoenix Racing, Kurt Busch has finished outside the top 10 at Atlanta just once since 2010!
#2. Head to Head: Kurt Busch (+100 at FOX Bet) vs. Alex Bowman
I genuinely do not understand this line. The betting favorite, Alex Bowman, has started the year terribly. He has just two top 10s and an average finish of 18.8. He sits at 17th in the point standings, and he has led only one lap.
Trouble for Alex Bowman after a stack-up in Phoenix Sunday!pic.twitter.com/Qxx5xsjNcY
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) March 15, 2021
Also, Bowman has finished ahead of Kurt Busch just once. Perhaps that’s why DraftKings Sportsbook has this head-to-head at -115 for both sides. Yet, for some reason, Busch’s line sits in the plus money at FOX Bet. Huh.
#3. Top 5: Martin Truex Jr. (+100 at DK Sportsbook)
I hate to call NASCAR predictable, but let’s take a look at the recent data from Atlanta Motor Speedway, shall we?
Look at those average finishes! We have four drivers who have average finishing positions inside the top 5, and two of those drivers (Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr.) haven’t finished outside of the top 5.
The implied odds for this line sit at a comfortable 50%, but Truex has a hit rate of 100% through the last three years at Atlanta. He hasn’t finished worse than third since moving to Joe Gibbs Racing, too.
Like Kurt Busch, Truex has gotten out to a strong start to the season. He is coming off a win at Phoenix, and he has strung together three-straight top 10 finishes, including a pair of top 5s. He should keep the streak running on Sunday, and the plus money makes this bet even more attractive.
Truex will also be racing angry on Sunday, as a late pit-road penalty prevented him from winning the Xfinity Series race that he dominated on Saturday.
#4. Top 10: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+275 at DK Sportsbook)
Okay, this bet is a longshot, but hear me out. Stenhouse has the 14th-best average finish and the 12th-best driver rating of all active drivers over the last three Atlanta races. He hasn’t finished inside the top 10 in any of those events, but he has finished inside the top 10 here before — back in 2016.
Stenhouse never finished outside the top 10 in his three Xfinity Series starts at Atlanta. He even won his final Xfinity race here in 2012.
I like this pick even more because of how strong JTG Daughtery Racing has looked to open the year. They have two top 10s (both of which belong to Ryan Preece) and six top 15s (split evenly among Stenhouse and Preece). Stenhouse finished 13th, 11th, and 12th in his last three events, respectively, and he has a real shot at getting his first top 10 of the year tomorrow.
Top NASCAR Betting Picks to Win: Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta
Favorite: Kevin Harvick (+600 at DK Sportsbook)
Harvick is the betting favorite at every book. That shouldn’t be surprising, as Harvick has won two of the last three events at Atlanta, including last year’s race. He even led 46.5% of the laps here last season.
The veteran hasn’t gotten off to a strong start to the year, but Atlanta is tied with Indianapolis for his best track over the last three seasons in terms of average finish. If there were ever a time for him to rebound, it’s now, and there is decent betting value on the favorite for Sunday’s event.
Dark Horse: Kurt Busch (+3000 at FOX Bet)
I already hyped up Kurt Busch above, but let me emphasize his ability to win here. Now that Jimmie Johnson has retired, Kurt Busch is tied with Kevin Harvick for most wins at Atlanta (3) among all active drivers. He won here in 2002, 2009, and 2010. All of those wins may have come more than 10 years ago, but remember, Busch has won at least once each year since his sophomore season (excluding 2012-13, the two years he spent in mid-pack equipment).
Busch manages to manifest one win out of thin air each season, and that victory may come at Atlanta this year.
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