The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Atlanta this weekend for the 2020 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at the Atlanta Speedway.
The green flag drops at 2 pm ET on Sunday, March 15, 2020, with the drivers slated to race for 325 laps around the 1.54-mile equal oval. The race is sponsored by QuikTrip Corporation and non-profit organization Folds of Honor.
This race was originally Atlanta’s second race of the season and was a late-season race during its early history and from 1987 to 2001, it was the final race of the season. From November, it was moved to October beginning 2002 until 2008. It was moved to Labor Day weekend in 2009 and from 2011 to present, it is Atlanta’s only race date. This year, the QuikTrip 500 is the fifth race in the NASCAR Series calendar.
Brad Keselowski is the defending race winner with Martin Truex Jr. and Kurt Busch completing the podium. Keselowski also won in 2017 and he has the most wins by any current driver. Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Bobby Labonte, and Jimmie Johnson share the record for most wins in the QuikTrip 500 with four victories each. Kevin Harvick won the race in 2018 while Kurt Busch was the race’s winner in 2013.
This year, Harvick is the odds on favorite to win the race at +450. Kyle Busch is at second in the odds board at +550 while Keselowski is currently at +600. Kurt Busch is a far +2200. Here are the complete odds to win the 2020 NASCAR Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. These odds were taken from the online sportsbook SportsBetting as of 03/13/20:
|Martin Truex Jr.||+600|
Who Are Our Favorites?
Kevin Harvick is the race favorite because the 44-year old is almost always a contender to win when the series heads to its annual stop in Atlanta. Harvick’s success at the track began as early as 2001 when he defeated Jeff Gordon by .006 of a second in only his third start at the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 500 while filling the spot vacated by the death of Dale Earnhardt. But that’s not the only reason why he is the favorite. Harvick has averaged a Top Four finish in Atlanta since 2013 and he has not finished outside the Top 10 since 2010. In his last eight races there, Harvick he has led at least 100 laps.
Brad Keselowski hasn’t led as many laps as Harvick has in Atlanta, but he’s always in the mix and is almost always there when it matters. Keselowski has won two out of the last three races in Atlanta and was the runner-up in the race he didn’t win. He achieved those even without leading for more than 40 laps in those three races. During his win last year, his averaging running position was 9th place and we know that Penske Racing cars get better as the race progresses.
Kyle Larson is the third driver who has performed well in Atlanta. He displayed terrific car control when he finished in second place here in 2017. He led last year’s race for 142 laps and he has a Top 8 average running position during his last three races in Atlanta. Larson hasn’t had a big 2020 as he’s led for only two laps so far. But he had a Top 10 running position in Las Vegas and Phoenix plus he’s had a Top 5 and three Top 10 finishes in four races started. The track in Atlanta is known to wear tires quickly and Larson’s car control could be a factor in this race.
Kurt Busch is also a driver known for his car control which should be a factor in Atlanta and he is coming off four consecutive Top 8 finishes at this track heading to this race. He finished third last year, in his first-ever Atlanta race for Chip Ganassi Racing. Busch’s average running position last year was sixth and it was the third time in the last four years where his average was 6th or better. Last year, he won in Kentucky and finished in the Top 5 in Kansas and Las Vegas. Overall, he had seven Top 10 finishes in 11 races.
Clint Bowyer is another driver who has driven well in heavy-wear tracks. Since joining Stewart-Haas Racing, he has driven well in Atlanta with a Top-11 average running position in the last three races. In the last two, his average running position has even been better at Top 8 and he finished in the Top 5 in both races. This season, Bowyer has two Top 6 finishes including a 5th place finish last weekend in Phoenix, which also has a track that wears tires easily.
When you talk about the Atlanta Speedway, you talk about tires wearing out faster than usual and this causes more sliding and slipping than usual. That’s the reason why we picked most of the names above as our personal betting favorites.
I like Karl Larson because while he doesn’t have an impressive resume in Atlanta like Harvick, the new rules on intermediates are likely going to favor those who drive best on them and Larson loves these oval tracks. His last two races in Atlanta have also resulted in a second and 9th place finish, respectively so you have to like him as well. Larson is also coming off a disappointing Daytona where he suffered several wrecks so he should be hungry and ready to impress here.
But you can’t say no to Kevin Harvick in this race because he’s finished in the Top 10 in his last four races in Atlanta. Last year, Harvick led in 182 out of the 352 laps in the race. In his last five races at the Atlanta Speedway, Harvick has led in a total of 915 out of 1640 races or an impressive 55.7%. That consistency is hard to ignore so yes, I will go with the betting gods in this race and pick Kevin Harvick.
Prediction: Kevin Harvick