Fantasy Article

Rotoworld

Update: Atlanta

Dan Beaver
Saturday, March 4, 2017

Atlanta Motor Speedway had only two practice sessions before the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. One of these was run on Friday as drivers and teams split their time between qualification and race trim. The other was run on Saturday as they put the finishing touches on the car.

Ryan Newman was in search of his eighth career pole on this track. He has been locked in a tie with the legendary Buddy Baker since 2007 and came close only once since then. Newman qualified second for the 2010 Emory Healthcare 500 and finished eighth. In his last three attempts, he’s been relatively close again with a pair of fourth-place efforts and a seventh. Newman was fastest in the first practice session, but he missed the top spot in time trials by .081 seconds.

Kevin Harvick laid down the only lap north of 190 mph on Friday and took the pole for the QuikTrip 500. This is his second pole in 27 attempts at Atlanta and his first effort did not go entirely according to plan. He sustained late-race crash damage and finished 19th in August 2014. The next year, he qualified on the outside pole and finished second. His overall strength on this track in the past three years is such that he should anchor most fantasy rosters.

Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five in qualification.

Jimmie Johnson was not as fortunate. He failed to advance to the final round of time trials and posted only the 18th-best speed. After that session, he was quick to point out that he was further back in each of the past two events before winning those races. Johnson had to take some risks along the way and is not a sure thing this week, but he should almost certainly earn some major place-differential points this week.

A whopping 34 of 39 drivers made long runs Saturday, and those average results are probably the most important tool in handicapping this week.

Newman tops this list. His first 10 laps on the track were completed with an average of 181.429. That combination of speed and durability over the long run makes him very attractive this week in light of his modest salary cap in most games.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. came to Atlanta last year after suffering a disappointing run in Daytona International Speedway. He finished second. This year, he also had a tough start to the season and posted the second-quickest 10-lap average in final practice. Earnhardt advanced to the final round of qualification and rolls off the grid 12th.

Jamie McMurray posted the third-quickest average speed in final practice with a 181.360. He drew some fire last week for the way he was drafting and was even credited with causing a "Big One" crash by some of the competitors. The best way to make them forget about that is to start them talking about his speed. McMurray qualified seventh and that should be a good omen, but he was third and second in his last two qualification efforts and finished outside the top 20 both times.

Ty Dillon was the quickest rookie in final practice. With an average of 179.797 mph during his first 10 laps on the track, the No. 13 Chevrolet was 10th on that leaderboard. He is determined to put his name at the forefront of the Rookie of the Year conversation and runs well on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks.

 

Start

Driver

Qual Speed

Practice 1

Rank

Final Practice
Rank

Avg. Rank

           

2

Ryan Newman

      189.870

1

6

3.0

3

Kyle Busch

      189.850

3

15

7.0

7

Jamie McMurray

      188.591

2

12

7.0

4

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

      188.854

5

13

7.3

8

Kyle Larson

      187.722

6

10

8.0

5

Brad Keselowski

      188.783

10

2

5.7

10

Denny Hamlin

      187.652

8

5

7.7

16

Matt Kenseth

      186.428

4

14

11.3

9

Martin Truex Jr.

      187.716

11

25

15.0

14

Ryan Blaney

      186.623

9

21

14.7

6

Joey Logano

      188.738

18

11

11.7

1

Kevin Harvick

      190.398

25

27

17.7

15

Trevor Bayne

      186.604

12

9

12.0

13

Kurt Busch

      186.988

14

3

10.0

11

Chase Elliott

      187.589

19

1

10.3

20

AJ Allmendinger

      185.084

13

4

12.3

29

Kasey Kahne

      185.090

7

7

14.3

21

Daniel Suarez

      185.028

16

19

18.7

12

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

      187.089

26

8

15.3

19

Austin Dillon

      186.165

20

17

18.7

18

Jimmie Johnson

      186.309

21

23

20.7

17

Paul Menard

      186.397

22

16

18.3

26

Ty Dillon

      186.121

17

20

21.0

30

Aric Almirola

      184.591

15

24

23.0

25

Clint Bowyer

      186.522

23

18

22.0

24

Danica Patrick

      182.705

27

31

27.3

28

Chris Buescher

      185.245

24

26

26.0

23

Erik Jones

      184.107

29

22

24.7

22

Matt DiBenedetto

      185.022

31

32

28.3

27

Landon Cassill

      185.300

30

33

30.0

34

David Ragan

        13.126

28

28

30.0

31

Gray Gaulding

      182.362

34

35

33.3

36

Michael McDowell

              -  

32

29

32.3

33

Reed Sorenson

      180.604

35

34

34.0

32

Corey LaJoie

      181.188

36

36

34.7

37

Cole Whitt

              -  

33

30

33.3

36

Jeffrey Earnhardt

              -  

38

37

37.0

38

Derrike Cope

              -  

37

38

37.7

39

Cody Ware

              -  

39

39

39.0

 

10-Lap Averages

 

10-Lap Averages

 

Avg

Practice 1

 

Final Practice

 

Rank

                 

 

Ryan Newman

 

 

1

Ryan Newman

  181.429

 

1.0

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

 

 

2

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

  181.398

 

2.0

4

Jamie McMurray

      179.067

 

3

Jamie McMurray

  181.360

 

3.5

 

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

 

 

4

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

  180.661

 

4.0

 

Denny Hamlin

 

 

5

Denny Hamlin

  180.623

 

5.0

2

Ty Dillon

      179.407

 

10

Ty Dillon

  179.797

 

6.0

 

Ryan Blaney

 

 

6

Ryan Blaney

  180.583

 

6.0

 

Brad Keselowski

 

 

7

Brad Keselowski

  180.287

 

7.0

5

Kyle Larson

      178.658

 

11

Kyle Larson

  179.717

 

8.0

7

Chase Elliott

      174.336

 

9

Chase Elliott

  179.803

 

8.0

8

Cody Ware

      165.218

 

 

Cody Ware

 

 

8.0

 

Austin Dillon

 

 

8

Austin Dillon

  179.973

 

8.0

3

Kyle Busch

      179.140

 

15

Kyle Busch

  179.405

 

9.0

1

Kevin Harvick

      179.977

 

19

Kevin Harvick

  178.486

 

10.0

 

Paul Menard

 

 

12

Paul Menard

  179.669

 

12.0

 

Martin Truex Jr.

 

 

13

Martin Truex Jr.

  179.549

 

13.0

 

Trevor Bayne

 

 

14

Trevor Bayne

  179.546

 

14.0

6

Daniel Suarez

      178.497

 

25

Daniel Suarez

  177.660

 

15.5

 

Joey Logano

 

 

16

Joey Logano

  179.126

 

16.0

 

Matt Kenseth

 

 

17

Matt Kenseth

  179.092

 

17.0

 

Erik Jones

 

 

18

Erik Jones

  178.786

 

18.0

 

Kurt Busch

 

 

20

Kurt Busch

  178.445

 

20.0

 

Clint Bowyer

 

 

21

Clint Bowyer

  178.412

 

21.0

 

Chris Buescher

 

 

22

Chris Buescher

  178.331

 

22.0

 

Jimmie Johnson

 

 

23

Jimmie Johnson

  178.158

 

23.0

 

David Ragan

 

 

24

David Ragan

  177.712

 

24.0

 

Kasey Kahne

 

 

26

Kasey Kahne

  177.592

 

26.0

 

Michael McDowell

 

 

27

Michael McDowell

  177.407

 

27.0

 

Matt DiBenedetto

 

 

28

Matt DiBenedetto

  176.230

 

28.0

 

Danica Patrick

 

 

29

Danica Patrick

  176.166

 

29.0

 

AJ Allmendinger

 

 

30

AJ Allmendinger

  176.067

 

30.0

 

Aric Almirola

 

 

31

Aric Almirola

  175.827

 

31.0

 

Cole Whitt

 

 

32

Cole Whitt

  174.604

 

32.0

 

Landon Cassill

 

 

33

Landon Cassill

  174.570

 

33.0

 

Gray Gaulding

 

 

34

Gray Gaulding

  174.055

 

34.0