NASCAR at Atlanta 2022: Odds, Preview and Top Storylines

Joe TanseyJuly 9, 2022

NASCAR at Atlanta 2022: Odds, Preview and Top Storylines

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    David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    There are eight more chances for drivers on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit to qualify for the postseason.

    The reality of that situation was thrust into the spotlight after Tyler Reddick captured his first career Cup win at Road America last Sunday.

    Reddick became the 13th driver to qualify for the NASCAR playoffs with a victory. There are three more spots up for grabs.

    Sunday's race at Atlanta Motor Speedway has the increased potential to produce a 14th winner of the season because of its revamped superspeedway format.

    NASCAR shifted to a package that is usually reserved for Daytona and Talladega at a repaved Atlanta this year, and that could fit the specialties of a few drivers looking to jump from one side of the playoff bubble to another.

    William Byron won the spring race at Atlanta, and it would be a welcome sight for those already in the playoffs if the No. 24 car or another one of the 12 clinched drivers prevails Sunday.

    There is a situation in play if NASCAR has more than 16 regular-season winners that some of them would not make the postseason, but that would only happen if there are more victors than playoff spots.

Quaker State 400 Odds

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    Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook

    Ryan Blaney (+1000; bet $100 to win $1,000)

    Chase Elliott (+1000)

    Ross Chastain (+1000)

    Bubba Wallace (+1200)

    Kyle Busch (+1200)

    Kyle Larson (+1200)

    William Byron (+1200)

    Joey Logano (+1200)

    Denny Hamlin (+1200)

    Tyler Reddick (+1500)

    Daniel Suarez (+1500)

    Christopher Bell (+2000)

    Martin Truex Jr. (+2000)

Will a Winless Driver Emerge Victorious?

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    Atlanta presents one of the best opportunities for winless drivers, especially those with recent superspeedway success, to join the 16-driver playoff field.

    Ryan Blaney, who enters as a co-favorite to win the race, could confirm his postseason status with a win. He would be the first driver through on points if there are not 16 race winners.

    Blaney can clear up his playoff situation by securing a victory at a track in which he has one win, three top-five places and three top-10 finishes. The car configuration from a high-wear intermediate, but the 28-year-old could use his experience to help him get to the front.

    Bubba Wallace and Michael McDowell could be the two most dangerous drivers this weekend. Both competitors have had a lot of success at Daytona and Talladega, and they could see the drafting track as their best chances to qualify for the playoffs.

    Wallace's only Cup Series win came at Talladega last fall, and he took 13th in the Atlanta spring race. McDowell was a surprise winner of the 2021 Daytona 500 and is typically in the mix by the end of races of this style.

    McDowell finished eighth at Talledega and seventh at Daytona this season. He could be the more reliable long-shot pick for the Quaker State 400 since Wallace has gone through a litany of issues on pit road this season.

    Corey LaJoie and Chris Buescher are also worth watching. Both drivers landed inside the top 10 at Atlanta in March, and they should be going all-out for a victory to sneak into the postseason.

How Will Atlanta Adjustments Affect Race?

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    The first race at Atlanta this season produced more fireworks than previous races at the track because of the new pavement and the introduction of the superspeedway package.

    There were 46 lead changes over 325 laps for a 500-mile race that brought some new circumstances to teams because of the different style of racing at Atlanta.

    Sunday's race at 3 p.m. ET presents the Cup teams with a chance to make adjustments from the spring event that could benefit them at the front of the pack. Teams that are already locked into the playoff field may have more motivation to remain at the front to prevent a first-time winner.

    On the other hand, the teams going all-in for a victory could use a combination of adjustments and different strategies to get to the front.

    Experience on the track could be what two of the big teams, Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing, could use to distance themselves from the field.

    Strength in numbers is vital in a superspeedway format. Teammates and drivers from the same manufacturer typically run together in drafting lines.

    Hendrick placed William Byron in Victory Lane and had Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman finish inside the top 10 this season at Atlanta, while Gibbs had Martin Truex Jr. in eighth.

    The knowledge gained from that race could help the big teams adjust their strategies and remain at the front while others jockey for position in what has the potential to be a dangerous middle of the field.

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