Driver Handicaps: Atlanta
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on August 28, 2014 | 3:15 P.M. EST
Matt Kenseth (20), still seeking his first victory of 2014, and three-time winner Jeff Gordon hope to extend their recent run of strong finishes at Atlanta Motor Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)
To assist in making your fantasy racing picks, MRN.com's Pete Pistone helps steer you toward Sunday’s Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Who's HOT in "The ATL"
Jeff Gordon: He’s putting together one of the best seasons of his career and that success could continue at Atlanta, where Gordon has been hot in recent years. He won in 2011 and followed that with finishes of second and sixth.
Matt Kenseth: Will the 0-for-24 winless drought end in Atlanta for Kenseth? There’s a good chance based on past history of the Joe Gibbs Racing driver, who has six top-10s in his last 10 Atlanta outings.
Kurt Busch: There’s been some life in the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing team of late and Busch has been stellar in Atlanta throughout his Sprint Cup career. He has a 9.2 average finish over his last 10 starts including four of the last five AMS races.
Kevin Harvick: Atlanta was the scene of Harvick’s dramatic 2001 victory and has been good to the Stewart-Haas Racing driver throughout his career. He has six top-10 runs in his last seven starts.
Kyle Busch: The defending race winner needs to snap out of a downward spiral of bad finishes and Atlanta could be just what the doctor ordered for Busch. He’s had three top 10s in the last four trips to Georgia.
Jamie McMurray: The Chip Ganassi Racing driver needs a win in one of the final two regular-season races to get into the Chase. But the odds are stacked against him based on past performances on the 1.54-mile track. McMurray hasn’t had a top 10 since 2008.
Paul Menard: Another one of the drivers that needs a "Hail Mary" to grab a Chase spot. Menard has an average finish of 21.0 over his last 10 races in Atlanta.
Kasey Kahne: There was a stretch in recent years where Kahne performed well in Atlanta, including a trip to Victory Lane in 2009. Recently, things have not gone so well for the Hendrick Motorsports pilot with four straight finishes of 32nd, 34th, 23rd and 36th.
Marcos Ambrose: One top 10 in his eight career Sprint Cup starts at Atlanta is all Ambrose has on his record.
Clint Bowyer: The good news is that Bowyer has three sixth-place finishes in his last 10 trips to Atlanta. The bad news is he also has six finishes of 20th or worst.
Who to Keep an Eye On at Atlanta
Jimmie Johnson: It’s easy to count him out with the recent stretch of challenges he’s endured. But the fact remains he’s had some very good days in Atlanta during his career, with four top-five runs in his last 10 starts.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: The No. 88 team has shown that its willing to throw caution to the wind in search of victories since Earnhardt is locked into the post-season Chase. Look for crew chief Steve Letarte to take a gamble (or two) to put Earnhardt in position to take another checkered flag.
Greg Biffle: There was a glimmer of hope for the Roush Fenway Racing team earlier this month in Michigan, where all three drivers finished in the top 10. Biffle’s a good driver on worn tires and Atlanta chews them up in a hurry.
Denny Hamlin: Won at Atlanta two years ago but finished 38th last season. If his arm isn’t sore from throwing his HANS device at Kevin Harvick in Bristol, look for Hamlin to be a factor Sunday night.
Brad Keselowski: He’s finished sixth and third at Atlanta. He’s also been credited with 35th and 36th.
MRN.com Staff Picks
Pete Pistone: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dustin Long: Jeff Gordon
John Singler: Matt Kenseth
Jeff Wackerlin: Kyle Larson