|3 stages Sunday: Day, Dusk and Night|
The last time we saw action on a 1.5-mile track was at Kentucky on June 30, and the last time we saw a race run on a similar high-banked 1.5-mile layout like Atlanta was at its sister-track in Charlotte on May 26. A lot has changed since then, so from oddsmaking standpoint, a lot more has to be reviewed other than simply looking at the results from Las Vegas, Texas and Charlotte.
If we were looking specifically at the performances from those early seasons races, the easy favorite would be Matt Kenseth, who won on three of the five 1.5-mile tracks. Although he’s never won at Atlanta, Kenseth comes at 6-to-1 odds this week, a number that indicates lots of respect. But so much has changed with the Toyota engine program from then to now that has forced his number below the favored Johnson.
While trying to get a more durable engine ready for drivers expected to be in the Chase, Toyota sacrificed some of their horsepower, and it was noticeable. Kyle Busch won at Texas and Fontana early in the year, but his only win since April 13 came on the road course at Watkins Glen. Despite Busch's mini-drought on horsepower tracks, he’s still listed as the co-third choice to win in Atlanta at 7-to-1 odds.
Kasey Kahne also comes in at 7-to-1 odds this week. He’s a two-time winner at Atlanta, his last victory coming in 2009, and he's shown plenty of horsepower all season long. He has yet to win on a 1.5 mile track this season, but was runner-up in three of the five races, including Charlotte.
Jeff Gordon made his first career start at Atlanta in 1992, the same race at which we said farewell to Richard Petty. Since then, Gordon has compiled five wins at Atlanta with an 11.9 average finish. His last win there came in 2011, and last season, as part of his miraculous Race to the Chase, he finished second. His 10-to-1 odds offered this week look to be the most attractive among the favorites.
Kevin Harvick is also 10-to-1 this week, but it’s not necessarily due to winning at Charlotte in May. The entire Richard Childress stable looked fast during the August 18 race at Michigan. While the set-up for the cars will be different due to the steeper banking at Atlanta, the consistent horsepower showed during that race – where he finished second – suggests he’ll be very fast Sunday night and contend for the win. This place has a special meaning for Harvick because it's the site of his first career win, only weeks after taking over the GM Goodwrench Chevy for Dale Earnhardt in 2001. It remains his only Atlanta win, but he did finish fifth last season.
Denny Hamlin has gone 10 straight races with finishes of 18th or worse, but because of his affiliation with Joe Gibbs Racing and winning this race last season, he’s still a driver to respect, which is why he’s 15-to-1 this week. In most of those poor finishes, he’s qualified well, an indication that his Toyota engine is somewhat sound and capable of running well. He just needs to get over the hump, and a track like Atlanta is the type that could see him bounce back with a big effort.
Read More Here..........Complete List of LVH Atlanta Odds