NASCAR hopes to recap a headline-filled week when it heads home to Atlanta.
It started when Kevin Harvick slipped through last week’s Phoenix race due to a late-race booking. If you were like me and held the Harvick total ticket in your hands, it was brutal. However, he snuck back for a T5 and all three of the best bets featured here cashed.
But the excitement didn’t end there as NASCAR imposed one of the harshest penalties ever for unauthorized part modifications on all four Hendrick Motorsports teams (Nos. 5, 9, 24 and 48) and the No. 31 Kaulig Racing team. Additionally, Denny Hamlin was fined for admitting to intentionally wrecking Ross Chastain in the final rounds of his podcast: “Actions harmful with Denny Hamlin.”
Still, the show must go on. And what a show it is as we head into what some have called “the biggest mystery of the NASCAR season.” The recently configured Atlanta Motor Speedway is now a 1.54-mile quad-oval that boasts the highest bank of any NASCAR intermediate track.
Essentially, it’s a superspeedway-like race over a mile and a half. Although there is debate as to whether the teams will use an actual Superspeedway pack, the books treat it as if it were and give us greater chances to attack with the following datasets.
- Current performance & statistics for 2023
- 2022 Atlanta #1 & 2 finished & overall speed rankings above ifantasyrace.com
- Daytona 500 finishes overall speed rankings
Here is the map for Hotlanta:
2023 Ambetter Health 400: NASCAR at Phoenix Odds, Picks & Predictions
All recommended bets apply to 1u.
Top 5: William Byron (+170 via bar stool sportsbook)
It’s the chalkiest T5 in any book, and with good reason. William Byron comes into this race after another hot start, winning consecutive races and finishing second this season with 240 laps.
Byron won that first race at Atlanta last spring and had top six overall speeds in both races there, leading a total of 152 laps over the two races. Top-10 in overall speed at the Daytona 500, Byron will have the car and resources to fight for another win if he can avoid the big ones.
Top 10: Alex Bowman (+130 via Barstool Sportsbook)
Alex Bowman now has four straight top 10 finishes, five if you include the Busch Light Clash. I had the pleasure of driving the last three. While the book still offers plus money for this bet, I don’t see the No. 48 slowing down any time soon.
What gives me confidence in the Arizona native is that he’s been fast on all types of tracks this season; Short, Superspeedway and Intermediate. He also has an extreme chip on his shoulder now, as NASCAR’s penalty ranges from first in points to 23rd.
Bowman finished that race last season in the magical number 10 and was classified in the top six in overall speed in both Atlanta competitions. I think he’ll do it again this weekend and help us make some more money.
Matchup: Corey Lajoie (-125) vs. Todd Gilliland (-105) via Caesars Sportsbook
We took advantage of Chris Buescher’s misjudged matchups last week, and we’ll try to do the same here with Corey Lajoie. The No. 7 driver has had a career year, is currently 17th on average and is now in the top 15 in points due to penalties on Bowman and Byron.
Also, Atlanta was arguably the 31-year-old’s best track last season. Lajoie finished fifth at that spring race and was a serious contender for victory at the summer race, leading 19 laps and finishing 13th in overall speed.
His opponent in this week’s matchup is Todd Gilliland, a second-year Cup Series driver, not much to write about just yet. Gilliland’s average finish this season is 26.8, nine points below Lajoie’s 17.8, and he only has a T20. With Gilliland averaging 22nd here last season, I’m confident of placing at least a unit if not more than 7th.
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Seth Woolcock is a well-known author at BettingPros. For more sports betting and fantasy sports analysis from Seth, be sure to follow and follow In-Between Media @Between_SethFF.