Thursday, February 25, 2016

Logano and Harvick favored to win at Atlanta

Matt Kenseth is looking for his first Atlanta victory.
LAS VEGAS -- Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway will be the first of 11 Sprint Cup races on 1.5-mile tracks this season, and it’s also the first race at Atlanta using the low down force package that was introduced last season at Kentucky and Darlington. Drivers doing well consistently on these types tracks will likely find themselves as one of the final four racing for a championship at Homestead in November.

On Tuesday, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook opened Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano as 5-to-1 co-favorites to win simply because they’ve been the best on the 1.5's the past two seasons. In 24 races the past two seasons, including Darlington’s 1.36-mile layout, Harvick has led the series with 15 top-5 finishes while also leading 1,599 laps — winning four times. Logano has four wins also, 14 top-5's and led 1,001 laps. No one else in the series has more than nine top-5 finishes over that span. Impressive stuff and quite worthy of being the co-favorites this week.

But here’s where the monkey wrench comes into play that completely puts 22 of those 24 races of statistics into question. The new low down force package makes a big difference and we only saw it in two races. Each time, a Joe Gibbs Toyota won.

Gibbs absolutely dominated Kentucky Speedway in July, which isn’t banked as high as Atlanta, but it’s still a great barometer to use because it’s the only real relevant data on the package we have. Kyle Busch won that race leading a race high 163 of the 267 laps. Logano was second, followed by Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski. That’s all four Gibbs car in the top-five and then both Penske cars filling up the top-six. Chevrolet came in seventh with Jeff Gordon and Harvick finished eighth. Jimmie Johnson, who won four times on 1.5's last season, finished ninth.

When the package was used again at Darlington in September, it was almost the same story. Edwards won, Hamlin was third and Kyle Busch in seventh. Keselowski was second while leading a race-high 196 of 367 laps. Logano was fourth and Harvick fifth.

Read More Here.......driver by driver breakdown on

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