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QuikTrip 500 Stats

Dan Beaver
Friday, March 3, 2017

This week’s race: Folds of Honor Quicktrip 500
Traditional Name: Atlanta 500
Other Notable Names: Motorcraft Quality Parts 500, Kobalt Tools 500, Golden Corral 500, MBNA 500, Cracker Barrel 500, Primestar 500, Purolator 500, Coca-Cola 500

Similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks are much more predictable than restrictor-plate, superspeedways and that means a driver’s record is important in the current week’s handicap. Since Atlanta hosts only one race per year, streaks on this course indicate that a driver and team have been strong for quite some time.

Hendrick Motorsports has been the class of this particular field recently. Last year they finished one-two with Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. That organization has also won four of the last six Atlanta starts. Joe Gibbs Racing took the other two.

10 best drivers at Atlanta

Over the past three races, these drivers have the best average finish on this track, (current configuration only).

1. Denny Hamlin
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 2.00
Career avg. finish: 10.7 in 25 attempts

Johnson qualified poorly for this week’s QuikTrip 500. He rolls off the grid 18th, but was quick to point out that is his best starting spot in the past three years. He won the last two events from 37th in 2015 and 19th in 2016. Segment points matter, but the biggest prize is still paid out when the checkers wave.

2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 5.33
Career avg. finish: 11.6 in 29 attempts

Last year Earnhardt had a disappointing finish in the Daytona 500—just like he did in 2017. He rebounded quickly at Atlanta to finish immediately behind Johnson. That second-place result was his second straight top-five and his fifth consecutive result of 11th or better.

3. Kurt Busch
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 8.50 (2 starts)
Career avg. finish: 16.0 in 25 attempts

Busch has been mostly strong at Atlanta throughout his career. Since fall 2006, he has logged 13 top-15s in the past 14 starts. Two of these were wins, three others top-fives, and three more of sixth through eighth. There is very little downside to starting him.

4. Matt Kenseth
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 8.67
Career avg. finish: 12.3 in 28 attempts

Kenseth entered last year’s edition of this race with a 16-race streak of finishes 13th or better. The majority of those were top-fives and all ended on the lead lap. He fell two off the pace in 2016 and finished 19th. That just proves that he is human.

5. Kevin Harvick
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 9.00
Career avg. finish: 17.6 in 26 attempts

Harvick’s average would be much better if not for late-race crash damage sustained in August 2014. He still managed to earn major points in all fantasy games that weekend because he led laps. His last two efforts reveal that misfortune did not slow him any. He was second in 2015 and sixth last year.

6. Kyle Busch
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 9.50 (two starts)
Career avg. finish: 15.2 in 18 attempts

Busch had an eight-race streak of top-10 qualifications end last year at Atlanta. He rolled off the grid 39th and most experts discounted his ability to challenge for a win. He added 36 place-differential points to his total and earned near maximum markers for his third-place finish.

7. Joey Logano
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 10.00
Career avg. finish: 18.8 in 10 attempts

Logano has not exactly been consistent in recent Atlanta races, but he has shown signs of strength. After suffering through six seasons with Joe Gibbs Racing, he final scored his first top-15 on that track for Roger Penske. In fact, he was runner-up in 2013 and has not finished worse than 14th in the three years that passed.

8. Aric Almirola
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 11.67
Career avg. finish: 21.7 in 7 attempts

Players looking for a solid dark horse will do well to consider Almirola. His last three efforts have netted only one top-10, but a worst result of 15th. Last year’s finish was marred by crash damage on the final lap, so he should have been even strong. He qualified 30th this week, but that will add to his place-differential points and make him even more attractive.

9. Martin Truex Jr.
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 12.00
Career avg. finish: 18.9 in 18 attempts

Truex has one bad finish skewing his three-year average. He lost a lap to crash damage in 2014, but has crossed under the checkers seventh or better in four of his last five races. He needs to quickly get the bad taste of Daytona out of his mouth with a few nice Georgia peaches.

10. Kasey Kahne
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 12.67
Career avg. finish: 18.6 in 20 attempts

Kahne has three wins at Atlanta and they came with three different teams. The most recent of these was earned fir Hendrick Motorsports in 2014 and it should put him on fantasy owners’ radar screens.
 

Rank

Driver

3 Yr. Avg. Finish

Attempts

1.

Jimmie Johnson

2.00

3

2.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

5.33

3

3.

Kurt Busch

8.50

2

4.

Matt Kenseth

8.67

3

5.

Kevin Harvick

9.00

3

6.

Kyle Busch

9.50

2

7.

Joey Logano

10.00

3

8.

Aric Almirola

11.67

3

9.

Martin Truex Jr.

12.00

3

10.

Kasey Kahne

12.67

3

 

11.

Ryan Newman

13.67

3

12.

Danica Patrick

14.00

3

13.

Paul Menard

16.33

3

14.

Denny Hamlin

19.00

3

14.

Brad Keselowski

19.00

3

16.

Kyle Larson

20.00

3

17.

Trevor Bayne

20.50

2

18.

Ty Dillon

21.00

2

19.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

22.00

3

20.

Jamie McMurray

24.33

3

21.

AJ Allmendinger

24.67

3

21.

Austin Dillon

24.67

3

23.

David Ragan

25.67

3

24.

Clint Bowyer

32.33

3

25.

Michael McDowell

34.67

3

25.

Cole Whitt

34.67

3

27.

Reed Sorenson

36.50

2

27.

Matt DiBenedetto

36.50

2

29.

Landon Cassill

36.67

3

Drivers with Only One Start

 

Chase Elliott

8.00

1

 

Ryan Blaney

25.00

1

 

Chris Buescher

28.00

1

 

Jeffrey Earnhardt

38.00

1

 

Exercise Caution

Most caution flags: 14, 2007 Pep Boys Auto 500
Fewest caution flags: 1 (2 times), 1970 Dixie 500, 1961 Festival 250
Average number of caution flags per race: 6.1
In 2017: 8.0

Final Caution, last five races:
February 2016: Lap 330 of 330: 4-car accident on back stretch on the final lap (Aric Almirola, Ryan Blaney, David Ragan, and Landon Cassill)
March 2015: Lap 306 of 325: 6-car accident in turn 3 with a 9:01 red flag (Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse
Jr.
Joe Nemechek, and Kyle Larson)
August 2014: Lap 330 of 335, to set up second green-white-checker attempt; 4-car accident on frontstretch (Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Paul Menard, and Jimmie Johnson)
September 2013: Lap 299 of 325: 2-car accident in turn 4 (Jeff Burton and Austin Dillon)
September 2012: Lap 321 of 327 (green-white-checkered): 1-car accident on frontstretch (Jamie McMurray)

Most caution laps: 99, 1977 Dixie 500
Fewest caution laps: 7, 1986 Atlanta Journal 500
Average number of caution laps per race: 40.7
In 2017: 40.00

Leading the way

Most leaders: 17, 2000 Cracker Barrel 500
Fewest leaders: 3, 1977 Atlanta 500
Average number of leaders: 8.7
In 2017: 18

Most lead changes: 45, 1982 Atlanta Journal 500
Fewest lead changes: 7 (2 times), 1961 Dixie 400, 1960 Atlanta 500
Average number of lead changes: 21.7
In 2017: 37

Victory Lane

Last five winners at Atlanta (starting position):
February 2016: Jimmie Johnson (19th)
March 2015: Jimmie Johnson (37th)
August 2014: Kasey Kahne (10)
September 2013: Kyle Busch (9)
September 2012: Denny Hamlin (7)

Worst starting position for race winner: 39th, Bobby Labonte 2001 NAPA 500

A race at Atlanta has been won by the pole sitter 14 times and from the front row 26 times in 109 races.

Recent races won from the pole:
Kasey Kahne, 2006 Golden Corral 500
Bobby Labonte, 1996 NAPA 500
Dale Earnhardt Sr., 1990 Motorcraft Quality Parts 500*
Rusty Wallace, 1988 Atlanta Journal 500
* Set by NASCAR’s rule book.

Active winners at Atlanta:
Jimmie Johnson: 5
Kurt Busch: 3
Kasey Kahne: 3
Kyle Busch: 2
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 1
Denny Hamlin: 1
Kevin Harvick: 1

First time winners at Atlanta:
2005: Carl Edwards, Golden Corral 500
2001: Kevin Harvick, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 500
2000: Jerry Nadeau, NAPA 500
1966: Jim Hurtubise, Atlanta 500
1961: Bob Burdick, Atlanta 500
1960: Bobby Johns, Atlanta 500

All-time Winners at Atlanta:
Top 10

Dale Earnhardt: 9
Cale Yarborough: 7
Bobby Labonte: 6
Richard Petty: 6
Bill Elliott: 5
Bobby Allison: 5
Jeff Gordon: 5
Jimmie Johnson: 5
Fred Lorenzen: 4
David Pearson: 4

All-time winners
Similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks (Atlanta, Charlotte, Texas, Las Vegas, Kansas, Chicagoland, and Kentucky)
Top 10

Jimmie Johnson: 30
Jeff Gordon: 24
Dale Earnhardt: 23
David Pearson: 18
Bobby Allison: 16
Cale Yarborough: 15
Tony Stewart: 15
Darrell Waltrip: 14
Richard Petty: 14
Bill Elliott: 13
Carl Edwards: 13
Matt Kenseth: 13

Running at the End

The following active drivers have been running at the end of every Atlanta race they started:
Joey Logano (10)
Aric Almirola (6)
Danica Patrick (5)
Austin Dillon (4)
Trevor Bayne (3)
Kyle Larson (3)
Ty Dillon (2)
Ryan Blaney (1)
Chris Buescher (1)
Matt DiBenedetto (1)
Jeffrey Earnhardt (1)
Chase Elliott (1)

Kyle Busch failed to finish in his first attempt in 2004, but has been running at the end of all 17 since then.

Great Starts

Active drivers with top-10s in their first start on this track:
Kevin Harvick: first (2001)
Kasey Kahne: third (2004)
Paul Menard: seventh (2006)
Jamie McMurray: seventh (2002)
Chase Elliott: eighth (2016)
Kyle Larson: eighth (2014)
Ryan Newman: 10th (both 2002 races and spring 2003)

Current Streaks

At Atlanta
Jimmie Johnson, two top-fives (including last two wins)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., two top-fives
Kevin Harvick, two top-10s
Brad Keselowski, two top10s
Martin Truex Jr., two top-10s

On Similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks (Atlanta, Charlotte, Texas, Las Vegas, Kansas, Chicagoland, and Kentucky)
Matt Kenseth, seven top-10s
Kyle Busch, four top-10s
Kasey Kahne, four top-10s
Joey Logano, two top-fives
Kevin Harvick, two top-10s

In 2016-2017
Joey Logano, seven top-10s
AJ Allmendinger, two top-10s