Sunday, February 28, 2016

Final Atlanta Notes: 2016 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500

Ryan Newman worth a bet at 100/1 just based on quality final practice
LAS VEGAS -- The major theme for today's Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway was whether Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske would have as big of an edge as they did last season on the two tracks where NASCAR's new low-downforce package was introduced. After Saturday's final practice, it appears Chevrolet has closed the gap considerably.

JGR still had a major presence during the session with three of the top six speeds, led by last week's winner, Denny Hamlin. But the most impressive looked to be three-time Atlanta winner Kurt Busch and four-time winner Jimmie Johnson based on 10-consecutive average lap speeds, in which Chevrolet posted the top six times.

Perhaps the biggest surprise between Friday and Saturday's practices was that Penske Ford drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano looked ordinary. Both were almost on par with JGR last season with the new package at Kentucky Speedway and Darlington Raceway — Logano finished second and fourth, and Keselowski was sixth and second. But in the final 80-minute practice Saturday, Logano was 32nd and Keselowski 17th.

What all that means at Las Vegas sports books is that some major adjusting will occur in odds to win and driver matchups. Logano was listed as the early 5-1 co-favorite, but his poor practices downgrade him severely. Busch was 15-1, but he has been upgraded to one of the favorites.

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