If you know what to expect this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway then you should share your premonitions with everyone else.
Sunday’s Cup Series race (3:15 p.m. ET, Fox) is the first at the reconfigured and repaved track. The 1.5-mile track had long been a favorite of drivers because of its multiple grooves in the corners and worn out pavement. Now the pavement is fresh and the track is designed to mimic the racing that you see at Daytona and Talladega.
It’s an audacious project by Atlanta and NASCAR, and billed as a redesign meant for NASCAR’s new Cup Series car. The track and sanctioning body claimed to use iRacing to find out the best track configuration for the recently released Cup Series cars.
Anyone who has spent time on iRacing knows that it’s not real. It’s a video game. And it’s fascinating to see if a video game can accurately predict what type of racing will happen in real life. While tracks have the same characteristics on iRacing as they do in real life, tire wear is not accurately replicated and iRacing races are typically far closer than races are in reality.
What’s different at Atlanta? The track is narrower so there could be fewer lines for drivers to take in the corners. The corners are also steeper too so that drivers can carry more speed through them and don’t have to get off the gas.
The cars will also have the same specs that they do at Daytona and Talladega. That means lots of downforce and very little horsepower to encourage pack racing and drafting.
Will that pack racing and drafting happen? We have no idea. And if it does, will drivers be able to easily pass each other? Again, we have no idea. There’s a wide range of plausible outcomes for Sunday’s race and hardly anything would be surprising.
That’s why we’re not in a position to offer you any betting advice this weekend. This is an unprecedented change for modern NASCAR and we aren’t comfortable predicting who will and won’t be good at Atlanta this weekend. Here are the top 10 favorites at BetMGM ahead of the weekend, and you can find the full list of odds and make a bet here.
Kyle Larson (+900)
Ryan Blaney (+900)
Chase Elliott (+1200)
Denny Hamlin (+1200)
Joey Logano (+1200)
Kyle Busch (+1200)
William Byron (+1200)
Alex Bowman (+1400)
Kevin Harvick (+1400)
Martin Truex Jr. (+1400)